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It's all familiar but it's still always exciting to finally see the growth of what's been lying dormant, knowing it's so full of potential. And we also have the opportunity to, once again, celebrate the woman (or women) who have always been there, patiently waiting to see new growth of what they know is lying dormant and so full of potential in us. They nurture the good and prune away the bad and do their best to grow us into something strong and beautiful, all the while understanding just how delicate we really are. It's a fine balance!
The idea of something dormant being so full of potential found its way into my idea for a Mother's Day gift this year. I decided to transform an old pair of jeans into a gardening apron and a garden tool caddy for a 5-gallon bucket. The back of a pair of jeans provide great ready-made pockets for an apron while the weight and durability of the denim is perfect for withstanding the harsh realities of a life working in the garden. An added bonus is there is little finishing of edges because you can retain the jean seams and use them as your apron edges.
I started by ripping out the crotch seam of the jeans using the Fiskars Sew Taxi. You can just cut across the back of the jeans but ripping out the seam gave me a little extra length and allowed me to create a level edge along the bottom of my apron.
I used a Fiskars acrylic ruler, rotary cutter, and cutting mat to do this. Prior to cutting the bottom edge, I used the 8 inch Razor-Edge Softgrip Scissors to cut along outside leg seams which helped flatten out the back of the jeans and made it easier to cut them. I left the inside leg seams intact so the legs could be used for the garden tool caddy. I left notches along the waist band since the cut edge there would not be a finished seam. These were folded over and stitched down.
Rather than just hem the bottom edge, I added a simple ruffle and some crocheted trim removed from an old pillowcase. More potential lying dormant! To create the tie for the apron, I stitched 5 inch wide strips of fabric together end to end, pressed the seams open, and folded strip in half lengthwise with right sides together. I stitched the raw edges together leaving a small opening for turning. After turning the strip right side out, I edge stitched along the edge with the seam and looped the tie through the belt loops.
The legs of the jeans became the panels for the garden tool caddy. I used mens' bootcut jeans and when opened up, the legs were 17 inches wide. I measured burlap to a height of 7 1/2 inches. For the length, I measured 17 inches and added 3 inches for each pocket to allow for the deep sides. You can add more or less to fit your needs. I hemmed the bottom edge 1/2 inch, ironing it to crease it. Yes, you can iron burlap!
To make the binding for the top edge of the pockets, I divided the length of the burlap strip by 3 (for 3 pockets) and pieced together 3 different fabrics to this length. The height of the strips is 4 inches. I then folded and pressed the long edges of the strip in toward the center (wrong sides together) to create a 2 inch tall strip and folded it in half again ending up with a 1 inch tall strip. This was pinned over the top edge of the burlap pocket and stitched in place. Doing this piecing not only adds an interesting patchwork look but it makes the next step easier.
I divided the width of the jean leg by 3 (for 3 pockets) and marked the leg by drawing a line from the bottom edge up to the height of the pocket. I placed the burlap pocket on the jean leg and stitched the sides down and stitched again to reinforce.
Next, I found the seams for the binding strip along the top of the fabric and lined them up on the lines I marked on the jean leg, pinning them in place. I pleated the bottom edge of the burlap pocket just by eyeballing the material and pinned the pleats down. I then stitched from the top of the pocket to the bottom between the pleats and stitched again to reinforce. Finally, I stitched along the pleated bottom edge of the burlap pocket. I stitched again 1/4 inch from the first stitch line. To keep the pockets more formed, I pleated the top edge of the pocket (again by eyeballing it) and stitched 1/4 inch from the edge just in the binding area. You can stitch farther down the side of the pocket to stabilize it even more if desired.
I always carry a pen and a journal or index cards to the garden with me so I can make notes about my plants. I added burlap pockets to the flaps that fold over to the inside of the bucket to tuck these into. If you do this, make sure to sew the pockets on "upside down" so they will be right side up when the flap is folded over.
To finish the caddy, I stitched the 2 jean leg panels to a nylon strap that fit in the recessed area of the lip at the top of the bucket and added a velcro closure. This strap should be about 6 inches longer than the circumference of the bucket and have a metal ring stitched to one end. Looping the strap through the metal ring allows for the strap to be pulled very snugly around the top of the bucket and held tightly in place with the velcro. MotThe tie on my bucket is purely decorative as it wouldn't support the weight of the caddy when the pockets are filled.
Although men's jeans are perfect for this project because they tend to have large, deep pockets, if you'll be making these as Mother's Day gifts, using a pair of your own jeans makes the gift a more sentimental one.
1 pair of jeans (mens' jeans typically offer larger pockets)
1/2 yard burlap
2/3 yard fabric for ties