By Diane Gilleland
With less than a yard of oilcloth and some simple sewing, you can have a pretty way to carry your trowel, cultivator, pruners, and gloves. And if it gets dirty in the garden, just hose it off and hang it up to dry.
3/4 yard oilcloth
Scraps of contrasting oilcloth
Low-tack painter’s masking tape
Sewing machine and thread
Notes on working with oilcloth: Since oilcloth doesn’t take well to pins, I usually attach my pieces for sewing by taping them. You can sew right over the tape if you like, but you may find that when you pull it away, remnants remain, as seen above. Instead, I try to remove the tape or peel it out of my way as I sew.
You might find it easier to sew on oilcloth if you use a Teflon presser foot on your sewing machine. Or, try this great trick from Futuregirl.
Step 1: Cut a 20″x34″ rectangle from the oilcloth. Using a ruler and a Sharpie, draw some fold lines on the wrong side of the oilcloth. Use the diagram above as a guide.
Note: You may want to adjust the dimensions of this caddy to suit your own garden tools.
Step 2: Fold the short ends of this rectangle in toward the center, folding along the lines you marked in Step 1. Tape the oilcloth in place with masking tape.
Step 3: Turn this piece over so you’re looking at the right side of the oilcloth, with those 2 folds at the right and left. Use a ruler to measure across this piece from fold to fold, and then find the center. Mark it near the bottom edge, as shown.
Repeat this process to make a center mark near the top edge as well. Then, remove the tape and flatten the oilcloth back out.
Step 4: Next, make 2 handles. Cut 2 strips of contrasting oilcloth, each measuring 4 1/2″x13″. Fold each strip into thirds lengthwise and press the folds with your fingers. You may want to tape the edge of the fabric down. Sew 1/4″ from each folded edge.
Step 5: Fold a handle into a “U” shape as shown here. Then tape it about 1″ from the long edge of the oilcloth. Use that center mark you made in Step 3 as a guide for placement — the handle should be centered on that mark.
Step 6: Repeat Step 5 to tape the other handle to the opposite side of the oilcloth.
Step 7: Sew the ends of the handles to the oilcloth, being careful not to stitch over the edges of the handles. Use a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Step 8: Next, fold the handle in the opposite direction, covering its raw edges. Tape this in place if you like.
Step 9: Sew across the ends of the handle again, about 3/8″ from each fold. (See how I’ve peeled my tape back a bit so I won’t sew over it?)
Repeat this process with the other handle.
Step 10: Now, we’ll finish the 2 short ends of the rectangle. Cut two 2″x20″ strips of oilcloth, and fold each one in half lengthwise. Oilcloth will tend to unfold itself, so you may find this step easier if you use this more permanent pressing method from Oilcloth Addict.
Wrap this folded strip over the edge of the rectangle, as shown here. Tape it in place if you like.
Step 11: Sew along the edge of the strip with a 1/4″ seam allowance.
Step 12: Repeat Steps 10 and 11 to finish the other short edge of the rectangle. Here’s what your project should look like at this point.
Step 13: Re-fold the oilcloth, using those fold lines you drew in Step 1. Tape the oilcloth in place.
Step 14: Sew along both sides of the caddy, using a 3/8″ seam allowance. When you sew near the handles, be sure to fold them out of your way, so you won’t sew over them again.
Step 15: Now, finish the 2 sides. Cut two 2″x18″ strips of oilcloth and fold them in half lengthwise. Repeat Steps 10 and 11 to attach edging. Trim away any excess edging after you sew.
Step 16: Lay the caddy flat, with the pockets facing up. Measure across the larger pocket and divide it into 3 or 4 smaller sections, adjusting the sizes as needed for your tools. (I made 2 larger divisions for my trowel and cultivator, and one smaller one for my pruners.)
Mark these lines with tape.
Step 17: Sew along these tape lines from the top of the large pocket to the bottom.
Note: Incidentally, I left the small upper pocket in my caddy undivided. It’s a good size for my gloves and trash bags. But you can certainly sew across this pocket too, if you need it divided into smaller sections.
Step 18: Load your caddy up with tools, and fold the handles together for carrying.
Oh, and by the way, with the tools out, you can also use it as a waterproof pad to protect your knees from damp grass and dirt.
About the Author:
Diane Gilleland produces CraftyPod, a blog and bi-weekly podcast about making stuff. Her first book, Kanzashi In Bloom is currently out in bookstores.