Fat Quarter Project ~ Tin Can Carrier

on April 25 | in Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 19 Comments

Wendi from Shiny Happy World designed this Tin Can Carrier. It makes a great storage container for all sorts of toys! Learn more about Wendi in her intro, and spend some time at Shiny Happy World (we especially like her Sewing School + Embroidery School resources). Wendi also has a shop stocked full of patterns, kits and more.

Today’s post is part of our Fat Quarter Series. Don’t forget to vote for Round 1 in our Fat Quarter Idol Contest, and enter to win Round 2: Meet Me at the Picnic. Enjoy more Fat Quarter Projects here, learn all about fat quarters here and pick up a stack here!

This tin can carrier makes a terrific toy (and toy tote) for kids. It’s a pineapple juice can, completely covered with fabric, with a small, elasticized opening in the top making it easy to reach in and grab toys, but hard for toys to fall out when you’re just carrying it around.

It’s fun to stuff large, squishy toys through the small, stretchy opening, and rocks dropped in the hole make a satisfying clanging sound when they hit the metal can! The instructions are for a short carrying handle, but you could easily lengthen it to an over-the-shoulder strap.

(If you’d like to make the snake you see wriggling out of the can you can find a free pattern here.)


  • One pineapple juice can (7 inches tall and 13 1/2 inches around)
  • One fat quarter of your favorite fabric (I used Backyard Baby Gray Bug Jars)
  • One 6 inch piece of 1/4 inch elastic

Make It
Step 1: Cut fabric.
Cut one rectangle 10 1/2 inches tall x 13 3/4 inches long (or height of can + 3 1/2 inches x circumference of can + 1/2 inch, if you’re using a different sized can).

Cut one strip for the handle 4 inches x 14 inches.

Trace the base of the can onto the same fabric and cut two circles.

Step 2: Prepare the handle.
Fold the short ends of the fabric up 1/4 inch at each end. Press.

Fold the strip in half the long way and press a crease down the middle.

Open the strip back up and fold each long edge in to the center crease. Press.

Refold along the center crease and press again. You should have a nice, sturdy handle with no visible raw edges.

Stitch all the way around the edges of the handle, as close to the edge as possible. Press to set the stitches.

Set the handle aside.

Step 3: Prepare the base circle.
Place the two fabric circles right sides together. Stitch all the way around the edge with a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

Cut a small slit (about 2 inches) in the center of ONE of the circles. Be very careful not to cut through both layers.

Turn the circles right side out through the small slit. Smooth the curves with a chopstick and press. You have a neatly finished circle to sew on the base of your can. Set it aside.

Step 4: Prepare the main can cover.
Turn the top edge of the fabric down 1/4 inch and press. (If you’re using fabric with a right and wrong side up, make sure you’re working with the top edge.) Turn it down another 1/2 inch and press. Stitch along the folded edge, creating a channel for the elastic.

Step 5: Add the handle.
Place one end of the handle so that the bottom of the handle is 3 inches below the top (folded) edge of the can cover, and the edge of the handle is 3 inches from the edge of the can cover.

Repeat with the other end of the handle on the other side of the can. Make sure not to twist the handle between the two sides.

Sew the ends of the handles in place. I like to sew a box roughly 1 inch square, with an X across the middle of it. This makes a nice strong handle.

Step 6: Sew up the can cover.
Thread the elastic through the channel at the top of the cover. Be careful not to pull the ends through.

When the ends of the elastic are flush with the raw edges at ends of the channel, fold the cover right sides together and stitch the side seam using 1/4 inch seam allowance. I like to start with the elastic end so I’m sure that’s lined up perfectly, sew through the elastic, backstitch back over the elastic, then sew through the elastic again and then on down the rest of the seam. This makes it extra strong at the stress point where the elastic is.

Press your seam allowance open.

Step 7: Cover the can.
Slide the sleeve over the can. Center the elastic opening over the open end of the can.

Turn the can over and tape the raw edges of the bottom of the sleeve to the base of the can. The tape will be covered– so don’t worry about how ugly it looks here– but make sure the fabric is gathered neatly around the edge of the can.

Center the prepared circle over the tape and hand stitch it in place. I recommend using ladder stitch; you can find a video tutorial for that here.

Done! Hand it off to a small person and see what they stuff inside!

Happy sewing!

Pin It

Related Posts

19 Responses to Fat Quarter Project ~ Tin Can Carrier

  1. Jodie says:

    This is so precious! It think this would make a very cute party favor at a child’s birthday party or picnic. I am not sure what to do with edges of can that are sharp. Would sandpaper work on cans?

  2. GENIUS! Another cool thing I wish I’d had a pattern for when my kids were littler!

  3. becky says:

    totally cute! love the stuffed snake too

  4. Wendi Gratz says:

    Hi all! Just a quick note about the sharp edges. I’ve found that most can openers now leave a nice clean edge on the can itself. I tested on mine and a few friends and they were all good. Test yours (of course) and if you’re worried about it a quick bit of duct tape like Mary Beth suggested should do the trick. Also be aware that once you get the whole thing together the elastic doesn’t stretch far enough to reach the edge of the can.

    I include instructions for measuring for other containers – just make sure to use something with straight sides and a flat bottom, like an oatmeal container. But cardboard won’t be nearly as durable as metal and I expect this toy to be dragged around a LOT. 🙂

  5. Mary Beth says:

    Awesome project! Thanks for sharing it.

    About the sharp edges. I would use a pair of pliers to crimp the edge of the can and then use some duct tape to cover it.
    I’ve done this before with success.

  6. Kathy says:

    How about using a large, plastic coffee can? The dimensions would be different, of course, yet no metal edges.

  7. Cindy J says:

    I agree about the sharp edges…how about an oatmeal container?

  8. katie says:

    I love this idea! Concerned about the sharp edges sometimes left on a tin can though – even when you are careful and check it over!

  9. Kelly Braund says:

    Sooo cute! I can see lots of great uses for this over the summer!

  10. Collette says:

    How completely fun is this???

  11. Laura says:

    Great idea! We used to recycle the old metal coffee cans like this. The elastic is a neat trick!

  12. Wendi Gratz says:

    Thanks so much! 🙂

  13. Kathleen says:

    This is just the neatest thing! This could be a guessing can with assorted small objects inside. Reach in and before pulling an object out, try to guess what it is by the feel of it. I am loving this!

  14. Celia says:

    Nice mix of materials!

  15. lisa says:

    this is awesome!! my boys would love this!!

  16. Peggy Grow says:

    Super cute and a great idea for a toddler. Will have to make one for my nephew.

  17. Suzanne says:

    What a very fun idea!

  18. Irma F says:

    I love this craft idea, but to make for charity, I was wondering if this could be adapted to use on a 2 liter drink bottle instead of a can. I am concerned about sharp edges, and would like to make these. Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks

  19. Catherine says:

    What a creative idea! I have never seen a tutorial like this. 🙂

« »

Subscribe to the sewmamasew.com newsletter

Sewing inspiration, projects, events and offers delivered conveniently to your email.


Get the latest sewmamasew.com news via