The Four-Hour Gift

A while back I posted about this sewing organizer that I made for myself. (Here is the link.)

This was the caddy-cum-sewing-room-organizer that I made, but since I had had to improvise so much I was unable to give good directions.

Well, next week is my club's Christmas dinner and the highlight of it is the gift exhange. (No, it's not the dry turkey with awful dressing, lumpy mashed potatoes and boiled carrots that is the highlight!)

I'm in the middle of producing several bag samples for a potential client, so I needed to make something nice, multipurpose, and fast.

So I thought I might as well write down the procedure, for myself and for anyone out there who might need a quick-to-make gift at any time of the year.

This project took me exactly four hours.


You need two or three different fabrics: one for the exterior, another for the interior, and possibly a third one for the binding. I will call them Fabric A, Fabric B, and Fabric C.

You also need a stabilizer like fleece or foam, fusible or not, and a fusible interfacing. This latter could be light weight or medium weight, depending on the type of fabric. It gets fused to half of the exterior pocket fabric, and it gives body to the pockets.

You need a "#10" can - that is, a can that measures 6.25 inches in diameter and 7 inches in height. I used a 3-lb coffee can from Costco.
FABRIC A: Cut 2 pieces measuring 7.5 inches by 20.5 inches - one for the exterior and one for the interior. Caution! Depending on the thickness of the fabric and of the stabilizer used, you might need an extra half-inch on the width, so I would recommend starting with 21 inches, and adjusting later if necessary. Also take into account that your fabric may shrink when you fuse the stabilizer.

Cut 1 piece measuring 10 by 20.5 inches for the interior pockets (optional).

Cut 2 circles measuring 6.5 inches across for the bottom.

FABRIC B: Cut 1 piece measuring 10 inches by 34.5 inches for the exterior pockets.

FABRIC C: Cut 2 strips measuring 3 inches by 20.5 inches. This is for the binding, and it doesn't have to be cut on the bias.

STABILIZER (Fleece or Foam): Cut 1 piece measuring 7.5 by 20.5 inches for the exterior. This does not have to be one piece. I often assemble several pieces with a zigzag stitch as this material is quite expensive. See photo further on.

(Optional: another similar piece for the interior. I didn't use one.)

Cut two circles of 6 inches in diameter, for the bottom.

INTERFACING: Cut 1 piece measuring 5 inches by 34.5 inches, for the exterior pockets. This does not have to be all in one piece - see photo. I used Pellon SF101.



Iron all Fabric A, B, and C pieces.

Fold the exterior pocket piece in two along the length; do the same with the interior pocket piece. (Fabric B)

Fuse interfacing to one half of the exterior pocket piece, on the wrong side.

This piece measures 34.5 inches, but interfacings come in a 20-inch width, so you will have to join several pieces. A slight overlap like this works very well.

Fuse stabilizer (fleece or foam) to the exterior piece (Fabric A), on the wrong side. (If using non-fusible stabilizer, baste it all around with a long stitch.)

Here you can see how I joined two remnants with a zigzag stitch.

Fuse stabilizer (fleece of foam) to both circles (Fabric A), on the wrong side.

Note the extra quarter-inch of fabric all around.

If you use non-fusible stabilizer, don't baste it, just pin it in place for the moment.

On the exterior piece mark a line half an inch from each end at the very bottom, then divide the rest of the space evenly. This will give you seven lines approximately 2 and 3/4 inches apart.

With a disappearing marker, extend those lines to the top.

Take the exterior pocket piece, mark a line half an inch from each end at the very bottom, then divide the rest of the space evenly. This will give you seven lines approximately 4 and ¾ inches apart.

With a disapearing marker, extend those lines to the top.

Place the pocket piece on top of the exterior piece, then join the lines at the bottom and at the top; pin in place.

Sew along the lines to attach the pockets, backstitching carefully at the top.

Fold and clip or pin half an inch at each end of each pocket.

Sew or baste along the bottom, ¼ inch from the edge. (You may want to baste this by hand if you're not sure.)

Now comes the most crucial step: fitting around the can to see if it fits! 

You should have from ¼ to ½ inch overlap for your seam, but don't be surprised if it's a tight fit, and if it's too tight, don't panic, just add a strip of binding. (Trust me, this can happen to anyone, and it has happened to me twice!)

Attach the folded inner pocket piece to the inner piece on the long side, at the bottom. 

To do this, place any side of the pocket to the wrong side of the inner piece, then flip it to the right side of the inner piece. The seam allowance will be on the inside.

Press the seam, then sew vertical lines at distances that will suit your purposes. (I did mine at 2.5 inches because I use them for skinny tools.)

Assemble the outside and the inside with a length of binding between the two.

A good way to do this is to fold in and press half an inch at each long edge, then to sew each side very close to the edge.

Alternatively, you may join the binding to each piece right side to right side, or one of each, as I did.

Now sew some binding to the bottom of the exterior piece, using your favourite method. I like Annie Unrein's technique of simply folding the binding (without ironing), sewing raw edges together on one side, then flipping the binding to the other side, and sewing that down.

Test around the can again for fit, then sew the two raw edges together with the proper seam allowance.

You now have a tube.

If the seam allowance is very small,  overstitch the seam with a zigzag or overcast stitch.

Turn the tube inside out.

Assemble the bottom disks, wrong side to wrong side, with a zigzag or overcast stitch

Then place it on the bottom of the can.

Finally, slip the tube over the can, arrange the inside part carefully all around...

Et voilĂ !

Good Luck!

If you have any questions, ask them here in the Comments.

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