Flashback: Colorful Canvas Containers

Craft & Design Yarncraft
Flashback: Colorful Canvas Containers

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By Sonya Nimri

For those of us who have painted a wall or two, have an extra drop cloth lying around, and need containers for our craft supplies, this project cannot be beat. It’s economical, highly functional, and easily coordinated with your home décor. It’s just a bit of simple sewing combined with a good dose of therapeutic mud-play, and a little bit of patience. The result is a sturdy container that makes a great holder for anything from a plant (needs to be lined with plastic), to craft supplies, to sea glass and shells.


Canvas drop cloth
Fabric scissors
Sewing machine
Smaller scissors with sharp blade tips,
for cutting the X for the side handle holes
Plaster of Paris or Fast Set Lite 20
Popsicle stick,
for stirring
Disposable latex gloves
Acrylic Paint,
optional. Containers will be white if no paint is used.
I used the following Folk Art colors:
628 Pure Orange
503 Yellow Citron
425 Medium Gray
633 Baby Pink
2551 Moon Yellow
403 Navy Blue
481 Aqua


Step 1: Cut a strip of fabric measuring 7″ x 22″. I tore the long side along a cut notch in the fabric to save time.


Step 2: Cut another piece that measures 5-1/2″ x 5-1/2″.


Step 3: Sew the two 7″ ends of the rectangle together, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance. This will create your first side seam.


Step 4: Now that your rectangle is sewn together at only one side, your fabric should form a loop. Sew 3 more vertical seams to create the other three corners of your container. To do this, sew a vertical seam at 5″, 10″, and 15″ from your first side seam, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance on each seam. Keep the fabric inside out.

Step 5: Starting at the seam at the corner, line up the corner of the 5-1/2″ x 5-1/2″ square and sew your first bottom corner seam, leaving 1/4″ seam allowance. Sew the other three sides so all four sides are sewn to the container. Now you have a nice, soft, floppy container. Trim extra fibers off the edges of the seam.



Step 6: Turn right side out. Cut an X in the two opposite sides of the container according to the diagram, about 1 -1/2″ down from the top of the middle of 2 of the sides. Fold the fabric triangles made from the Xs back, which will form a peep-hole rectangle, then sew an edge around this rectangle.


Step 7: Fold the top edge under 1/2″, then iron the whole container, folding the sides flat.



Step 8: Mix a 1/4 cup scoop of plaster of Paris and a squirt of paint together with a little more than the same amount of water until the mixture is the consistency of applesauce.


Step 9: Put some gloves on, then saturate the mixture into the fibers of the canvas by pouring into and outside of your canvas container and rubbing it really well with your hands to get it evenly coated on both sides, under the fold at the top, and in between the fabric all around. Ring it out so it is not too saturated.


Step 10: Gently fold your container and lay it down to dry, flipping it over once the first side is completely dry. Or simply let your container dry open and in it’s intended shape. It will take about 24 hours to dry depending on your climate.

Alternate Shapes:



Alternative 1: Use a 9″ pie tin to trace the bottom onto your canvas with a pencil. Cut around the drawn line, leaving a 1/4″ seam allowance. Measure enough of a length of fabric to sew to the whole circumference with a 1/4″ at each end. I made this one 14″ high so I could double-wall the fabric sides of the container.


Alternative 2: Trace the top of a spray paint can to create a nice paint brush holder using the same technique as the pie tin. Fill the bottom few inches with sand to hold the brushes in place and to prevent the container from tipping over.


Alternative 3: For a rectangular container make the initial rectangular fabric 32″ long and seam at 5″, 15″, 20″, and 25″. Make the bottom 5-1/2″x10″ with a 1/4″ seam allowance.


Tip 1: For super-sturdy sides make the fabric double the desired height and fold under. This will double-wall the fabric on the sides, helping it to keep its shape extra-well. The pink container is an example of this. Allow for extra drying time.

Tip 2: For a weathered look, plaster the canvas container without adding paint, then paint over the white plaster after it’s dry. It will use more paint but will have a weathered finish with cracks and brush marks. I used this technique on the navy blue container.

About the Author:

Sonya Nimri lives and crafts in a little house in Venice Beach, Calif. She is the author of two books: Beadalicious and Just for the Frill of It. Visit her at Sonya Style for lots of project ideas.

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Haley Pierson-Cox from Red-Handled Scissors is a maker of crafts, a lover of cats, an avid swearing enthusiast, a cross-stitch book author, and a general purveyor of quirk. She's also sometimes an irritable cartoon named Tiny Cranky Haley. https://www.redhandledscissors.com

View more articles by Haley Pierson-Cox


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