The boys' garden-themed Easter baskets were a huge hit. You won't be surprised to hear that they went for the candy first, but the gardening tools and tool belts were (to my delight) a very close second. Both boys wore the belts throughout our backyard egg hunt and family breakfast. It turns out that, despite their fascination with wielding real metal garden tools, they also enjoy using their belts for little toy treasures, and having a few extra playthings on hand when helping daddy in the yard makes things easier on everyone.
I made the tool belts from a few tiny pieces of striped denim, cotton webbing, and velcro. Of course, you could also always use longer straps (to tie) and no velcro at all. The belts are easy to construct (altogether, the project probably took an hour) and entirely machine washable (which is important, given how much time they'll spend in the dirt). More importantly, they hold lots of gear and can be customized for certain tools. I can't be sure yet, but I have a strong feeling that they're going to get a lot of inside wear as well.
Ready for the details?
- Two pieces of heavy cotton fabric (denim, canvas, or twill) measuring 8.5 x 12.5 inches and 6 x 16.5 inches. Assuming your fabric is wide enough and oriented correctly, this should be easy to cut from 1/4 yard of fabric. Note that these dimensions were based on basic measurements of my children. You may need to adjust for older or younger kids.
- 24 inches of cotton webbing for the waist. This will need to be a bit larger if you plan to tie (not velcro) the straps
- 2-3 inches of 1 inch velcro
- Basic sewing supplies
1. Finish the upper edges of both pieces of fabric with a double turned hem. Begin by folding and pressing the raw edges 1/2 inch.
Then fold and press another inch. Pin the one inch folds.
Sew the hem, leaving a 1/4 inch seam allowance from the bottom of the fold. If desired, repeat this step to create a very strong double stitch (I did).
2. Create the multi-compartment pocket by constructing pleats. Pleats are tiny folds (in this case, going in both directions) that create dimension in your fabric. Don't be intimidated--I've never used them before and this first-time attempt went just fine. Begin 1/2 inch from the left edge of your fabric and create one fold measuring 1/4 inch that points toward that edge. Pin. Now, create a double pleat (two folds measuring 1/4 inch each that meet) every 2.5 inches. This should give you three double pleats total. End with a single pleat pointing toward the rightmost raw edge. This pleat should fall about 1/2 inch from that edge. Press the pleats along the bottom.
Sew a straight seam along the bottom edge of your pocket with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. This stitch will hold the pleats. Repeat for a nice, strong hold.
3. Connect the pocket to the apron piece. Pin pocket to apron along the bottom edge of each piece. The right side of the pocket should be facing the wrong side of the apron.
Now, sew the two pieces together with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. This seam will go right over the one that you created in the last step.
Fold the connected pieces inside out and press to reveal the seam.
Pin the pockets closed just above each of your three double pleats.
To separate the pockets, sew from the bottom edge to the top of the pocket along the invisible line between each double pleat and the pin above it.
4. Finish the sides of the tool belt. Begin by over-edge stitching both sides of the tool belt. I used a serging stitch, though you could also use a nice, tight zig zag.
Fold and pin the stitched edges 1/2 inch, then stitch the hem.
At this point, you should have a finished pouch that looks something like this.
5. Attach the belt. Pin cotton webbing to your finished pouch so that overhang is equal on both sides and the top of webbing lines up with the top of your pouch.
Stitch webbing to pouch with two straight stitches 1/4 inch from either edge of the webbing.
Now, stop and measure your child's waist. If needed, trim the webbing so that it fits his or her waist with the ends overlapping about 2.5 inches. Pin the top and bottom of your velcro to the ends of webbing so that when closed, the webbing overlaps without any twisting.
And that's it! Stuff with tools and present to your Little Farmer.
Insist on a kiss of gratitude:).