The month of June includes a lot of gift-giving opportunities, including Father’s Day on June 16th. Our bucket tote is a great gift for the Mister-Fix-It Dad in your life, who has been known to shout, “Who stole my screwdriver again?!” loudly enough for the neighbors to hear. With this generous bucket, he can keep all his “tools of the trade” in one place so it’s easy to take them wherever he needs to go. The finished tote is approximately 12″ tall and 10″ in diameter with a 6¾” deep pocket panel. A perfect size for small jobs around the house. We don’t recommend trying to machine wash this tote when completed. It is meant to be wiped clean. Spraying the finished tote with a coating of Scotch-Gard® will help keep tool dirt at bay.

To give the bucket the stability it needs, it’s important to use a heavyweight fabric, such as a cotton twill, canvas or even an outdoor or marine fabric. We used a combination of Diversitex Topside Eco-Friendly Cotton Twill from The two exact colors shown (Snow and Key Lime) are not currently in-stock, however, there are nine other options from which to choose. The Diversitex product is an 11.5 ounce, heavy weight cotton twill fabric that, while not organic, is an all natural cotton colored with “low impact dyes.” 

For more gift ideas for Dad, see our recent Father’s Day series sponsored by You’ll find a great device case, BBQ apron and hot mitt, safari duffle, and a super soft jumbo pillow and blanket. Lots of choices for lots of Dads!

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

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  • 1 yard of heavy twill or canvas for the main bucket and bucket lining (the white in our sample)
  • ½ yard of heavy twill or canvas for the bucket pocket panel (the green in our sample)
  • 1¼ yard of heavyweight fusible interfacing, such as Fast2Fuse or Heat ‘n’ Bond  
    NOTE: These type of products are normally only 18″-20″ wide, which meant we couldn’t quite fit our two pieces side by side. We found and bought our interfacing off the bolt at our local fabric store so getting 1¼ yard wasn’t a problem. If you have to buy packaged interfacing, carefully check the amount; you may need more than one package. Because it is fusible you can piece it, but it that is not the best choice for stability.
  • 1 yard of ½” cotton rope; we used a natural rope we found at our local hardware store
  • Four ⅜” metal grommets; we used Dritz Metal Grommets in Antique Brass
  • One ⅜” grommet tool; your grommets may come with a tool – ours did not
  • All-purpose sewing thread in a color to match the main body and contrast with the pocket panel: we used Coats & Clark Dual Duty XP in White
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • See-through ruler
  • Straight pins
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Large safety pin

Getting Started

  1. From the fabric for the bucket pocket panel (the green in our sample), cut ONE 32½” by 8¼” rectangle.
  2. From the fabric for the bucket exterior, lining bottom and strap (the white in our sample), cut the following:
    ONE 32½ x 14¾ rectangle for the exterior
    ONE 32½” by 12½” rectangle for the lining
    TWO 11″ diameter circles for the exterior base and the lining base
    NOTE: We used a pan lid to make my circle pattern, because it happened to be exactly 11″ in diameter.
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  3. If you aren’t that lucky, here’s how to draw your own circle pattern: Fold a 12″ square of pattern or graph paper into quarters. Make sure your original square is even and true.
  4. Place a see-through ruler at the exact center of the upper left corner of your folded square. Swing the ruler from the top to the bottom of the square, like a pendulum, measuring and marking a dot at the 5½” point in three to four spots. You are creating a semi-circle.
  5. Draw an arc to connect the marks. If you own a large compass, you could also use it to create your 5½” arc. Cut along the arc, then unfold your 11″ circle.
    NOTE: Take a look at our Whimsy neck roll pillow tutorials for additional step-by-step photos of this circle pattern technique.
  6. From the interfacing, cut the following:
    ONE 31½” x 10¼” rectangle
    ONE 10¼” diameter circle for the exterior base and the lining base
    NOTE: Make a new circle pattern as described above or, after you’re done cutting the canvas, trim your existing 11″ circle pattern by ¾” all around.

At Your Sewing Machine& Ironing Board

As we always recommend: start every new project with a new needle. This advice is especially important with this project because you will be sewing through thick canvas and heavy interfacing.

For extra stability, we serged the raw edges of all our fabric pieces before starting. If you don’t have a serger, check out our machine seam finishes tutorial for other options.

  1. Make a ½” double turn hem along the top of the pocket panel (along one 32½”side). To do this, fold the raw edge down ½” and press. Then, fold down an additional ½”, press again.
  2. Increase your machine’s stitch length, and stitch the hem in place close to the fold.
  3. Place the hemmed pocket panel on the exterior panel (the 32½” x 14¾” piece), aligning the bottom raw edges of both pieces. Pin in place.
  4. Machine baste the two panels together along both sides and across the bottom, staying close to the raw edge.
    NOTE: This step allows you to treat these two pieces as one during the remainder of the construction, which makes them easier to handle and helps keep all your lines straight.
  5. Using your see-through ruler and fabric pencil, mark vertical lines for the pocket divisions. First, fold the pinned-panels in half to find the exact center and finger press to form a crease. Mark your first vertical line along this crease.
  6. Measure 8¾” to the left and 8¾” to the right of this first line. Draw two additional vertical lines at these measurements.
  7. With your machine still set to the longer stitch length, sew one seam from the bottom raw edges to the top hem along each drawn line. For a neater beginning and end to your seams, use a lock stitch rather than back-tacking or leave your thread tails long and tie a hand knot.
  8. We added a Sew4Home label along the middle pocket seam line.
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  9. Fold the exterior panel in half, aligning the 14¾” sides of the snow fabric and sandwiching the pocket panel inside. Pin in place.
  10. Re-set your machine for a normal stitch length. Stitch the sides together, using a ½” seam allowance to create an open tube. Press the seam open.
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  11. Find one 11″ circle.
  12. In order to attach the circular base to the open tube that will become the walls of the bucket, it helps to make “quarter-marks” on each piece. To do this, fold the circle piece in half, then in half again. Light press to set creases. Unfold and place a pin at the end of each crease.
  13. For the tube, first fold it in half so the seam is on your left and a fold is on your right. Place a pin at the bottom of the right-hand fold. Fold in half again, bringing the first fold across to meet the seam. Place a pin on either side at the second fold point. Your fourth quadrant point will be the side seam itself.
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  14. Place the base inside the bottom of the tote, with right sides together. Match up the pins you put in place on your quarter folds. Then fill in with pins all around.
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  15. Using a ½” seam allowance, sew around the circle.
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  16. Press the seam open.
  17. Repeat steps 9 – 16 with your lining piece and second 11″ circle to create the lining with one addition: first fuse the interfacing to the canvas.
  18. The fusing for the rectangle should be ½” from the bottom edge and 1¾” from the top to account for the seams and top hem. The interfacing circle should be centered within the base circle.
    Click to Enlarge
    NOTE: This type of interfacing is very heavy and not super fun to sew on, but it is important to the stability of the tool tote… so ya gotta roll with it.
  19. Press a top hem into the exterior tote. To do this, fold down the top raw edge ½” and press well. Then, fold down an additional 1¾” and press again.
  20. With the exterior tote still right side out, unfold the hem… just the second large fold, not the first narrow fold.
  21. Turn the lining wrong side out and place it inside the tote. The two pieces are now wrong sides together. Match up the side seams and push the lining down firmly. It should be nice and flat against the exterior fabric.
  22. Fold the top hem back down, covering the raw edge of the lining, and pin in place all around.
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  23. Re-set your machine to the longer stitch length.
  24. Topstitch all around the top of the bucket, nice and close to the 1¾” folded edge, through all layers.


  1. Insert two grommets on each side. The two pair must be exactly opposite one another and line up perfectly, otherwise your bucket will twist when you pick it up. Work with your center pocket seam line to help you determine the side points. Then double check your measures across the top with a ruler.
  2. The upper grommet should be placed ¼” above the top hem. The lower grommet is ½” from the bottom of the first grommet. Trace the inside of each grommet and cut a hole.
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  3. Following the manufacturer’s directions, place all four grommets. If you are new to the technique, check out tutorial, How to Install Metal Grommets.
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  4. Make a large knot in one end of the rope. Thread the rope from front to back through the bottom grommet then out through the top grommet, back to front.
  5. Bring the rope over the top, insert it into the top grommet on the opposite side from front to back, then come out the bottom grommet on that side from back to front. Adjust the handle to a comfortable carrying length and make a knot on the remaining end to secure.
    Click to Enlarge


Project Design: Alicia Thommas

Sample Creation: Debbie Guild

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