Everything Bucket Sewing Project

By Sanae Ishida

April 2018

sewing happiness

In Sewing Happiness (Sasquatch Books, 2016), author Sanae Ishida shows readers the power of a little creativity in their lives. After being diagnosed with a chronic illness and losing her corporate job, Ishida discovered that sewing can be a life-saving meditative activity, and is now using her latest sewing pattern book to show readers that anyone can pick up a needle and find happiness is sewing. The following excerpt is her pattern for an everything bucket.

There’s something about containers that makes my heart flutter. My husband has complained about my tendency to accumulate a massive number of baskets and fabric boxes and miscellaneous holders of things. I’m of the opinion that one can never have too many containers, and I have yet to be proven wrong. After I finished making these buckets, and placed them in the entryway, my husband spotted them and asked (in a horrified tone), “Did you buy more baskets? These look expensive!” Shhhh . . . they cost far, far less than the fancy ones I love. They also require minimal effort to stitch up, especially if you opt to omit the handles and the color-blocking.

What makes this project extremely adaptable is that you can create all manner of fabric buckets in any size imaginable, with or without handles, and all you need is a simple formula to figure out the dimensions.

Supplies and Materials

  • 1 yard woven fabric, for the bucket
  • 1 yard woven fabric, for the base
  • 1 yard woven fabric, for the lining
  • Decor-weight interfacing (optional)
  • Coordinating thread
  • Screw-on metal hardware (I used 1/4 inch screws) (optional)

Fabric recommendations

Sturdy fabrics like duck canvas, burlap, jute, and faux leather work best for these buckets. Duck canvas is fantastic as a lining too, although the one I used had an overpowering smell. A word of caution if you decide to use burlap or jute: the fibers get everywhere. I wanted a softer feel for the burlap/jute baskets so I didn’t use interfacing. Make sure to prep woven fabrics by washing, drying, and pressing.

Finished dimensions: 14-inch-high two-fabric bucket with a 10-inch-diamenter base


Fabric pieces: Bucket Upper (1), Bucket Lower (1), Base (1), Bucket Lining (1), Base Lining (1), Strap (2) (optional)fabric

Interfacing and Lining Info:

I highly recommend using heavier, decor-weight interfacing for this bucket. It will help keep the sides upright and look more professional. The iron-on interfacing I used didn’t actually stick that well to the fabric, but you end up stitching it in, so it shouldn’t be an issue. But feel free to baste it on if it’s a concern. If you want to make the bucket extra sturdy, consider fusing interfacing on both the outer and lining fabrics. If you do, you’ll probably need to use a thicker needle, such as a leather or denim needle, to sew it all together.

Construction Steps:

1. We’ll start with a little math that’s not too daunting. Let’s use a 1/2-inch seam allowance throughout and tackle these first two measurements: circular base and bucket width (a.k.a. circumference). Be sure to jot them down once you’ve figured them out:


Circular Base

It can be as small or as big as you want! I made mine 10 inches because it was a nice even number. It will be 1 inch smaller after it’s sewn because of the seam allowance. So if you want to end up with a 10-inch base, you’ll cut out an 11-inchwide circle.

Bucket Width (Circumference)

We’re going back to grade school math here: diameter multiplied by Pi equals circumference. Pi is approximately 3.14. With a 10-inch base, it’s easy to calculate: 31 2/5 inches. But 31 2/5 inches is sort of awkward to me, so I rounded it up to 31-1/2 inches. Add the 1-inch seam allowance and the width is 32-1/2 inches. It turned out to be just fine, but a word of caution not to round up too much since attaching the circular base may become more fiddly.

2. Next, calculate the bucket height: For this example, I chose 14 inches for the height. If you just want a plain and simple bucket without color-blocking, simply add 1 inch to the height. Because I wanted to colorblock with canvas and faux leather, I split up my 14 inches this way:

  • Canvas = 8 inches high
  • Faux leather = 6 inches high

The fabric will need a 1/2-inch seam allowance, so 1 inch should be added to the height for each piece. This means 9 inches for the canvas piece and 7 inches for the faux leather piece. Jot down your measurements.


For the lining, just add a 1-inch seam allowance to the 14-inch height, making the lining piece 15 inches high.


Jot down these height numbers for future reference.

Tip: A good rule of thumb is, the taller the height, the bigger the base should be. This is to avoid the bucket from toppling over.

3. To reduce bulk it’s a good idea to make the interfacing ever so slightly smaller than the fabric on which you are fusing—1/4 inch smaller should do the trick. In this sample bucket version, the interfacing will be fused onto the upper bucket piece only since the faux leather is thick enough on its own.

A note on the lining: I used the same dimensions as the main fabric, but for a more snugly fitting lining, reduce the lining dimensions by a scant 1/8 inch on all sides for both the rectangular and circular pieces.

4. Finally, calculate the handle strap width and height, if desired. I would recommend two 5-by-10-inch pieces for the handles, but you may want your handles to be shorter, longer, thinner, wider, etc. If you are using leather or similar, there is no need to calculate for a seam allowance, but for woven fabrics like cotton, keep in mind that the handle pieces will be folded in half lengthwise and that you will need a 1/2-inch seam allowance. As with all the other measurements, jot down the dimensions you choose.

You should now have the measurements for all the pieces you need; I’ve noted mine here:

• Bucket Upper Piece: 32.5 by 9 inches
• Interfacing for Bucket Upper Piece: 32.25 by 8.75 inches
• Bucket Lower Piece (faux leather so no interfacing): 32.5 by 7 inches
• Circular Base for Bucket and lining: 11 inches
• Bucket Lining: 32.5 by 15 inches
• Handle Strap (if using them): 5 by 10 inches

If you are not using faux leather, you may want to just attach interfacing to the lining piece to make it easier. The only pattern piece you need is for the circular base, since all the other rectangular dimensions can be directly marked on the fabric. A plate is extremely handy for creating the pattern piece. Or, to measure out a pattern for your circular base, you can fold a square piece of paper into quarters and plot out a 5.5-inch radius for your 11-inch circle. Or create a half circle pattern and just flip it over to trace the other side.


5. Cut out all the pieces from your fabrics. Remember, these are all the pieces you need if you are using color-blocking with a faux leather base and are including handles:


6. To prep, iron-on and/or baste the interfacing to the WRONG side of the main upper piece.


If you are not using faux leather for the base, iron-on and/or baste interfacing to the outer circular base as well.

7. Time to sew! Note: If you don’t want to color-block your bucket, skip this step and go to step 8. Sew the bucket upper and lower pieces together RIGHT sides facing, 1/2 inch from the edge. Press the seam open. (With leather, remember to use clips rather than pins since pins may leave holes.) This is now the main bucket piece.


8. With the RIGHT sides facing lengthwise, sew 1/2 inch along the side edges of the main bucket piece. Press the seam open, again being careful with any leather or leatherlike material.


9. Find four equidistant points on both the bucket lower piece and the bucket base, as shown. With the RIGHT sides facing, clip or pin the two pieces together.


10. Stitch together, 1/2 inch from the edge, working with the bucket lower piece on the top so you can gently pull and adjust the fabric to keep it lying flat as you sew around the circle. To do this, place the bucket edge under the presser foot with the WRONG side of the bucket piece facing up and the base on the underside. Leather and faux leather tend to stretch a little, causing the fabrics to shift, so ease up on the foot pedal and stitch slowly.


11. Cut notches into the seam allowance, taking care not to snip the seam. This will help prevent puckering and smooth out the curve.


12. Make the handles, if desired. If you are using a leatherlike material, skip to step 13 since there is no need to sew anything. If you are using fabric, such as canvas, fold the handle piece in half lengthwise with the RIGHT sides facing, and stitch 1/2 inch from the edge. Trim the seam allowance to 1/4 inch, turn RIGHT side out, and press. Topstitch three parallel rows. Repeat to make the second handle piece.


13. Positioning the main bucket piece with the seam in the back, mark the desired handle positions. Pin or clip the straps to the main bucket piece with raw edges matching, RIGHT sides together. Baste the straps 1/4 inch from edge.


14. Repeat steps 9 to 11 for the through lining and the lining base.


15. Insert the main bucket piece into the lining RIGHT sides together. Stitch 1/2 inch from the top edge around the perimeter, leaving about a 4-inch opening and slowing down when stitching over the handles to prevent fabric shifting due to the bulk.


16. Turn the bucket RIGHT side out through the opening, adjusting the lining to fit inside. Press. If you made canvas handles, lift them up and sew the perimeter of the bag 1/4 inch from the top to close the opening and finish off the bag. Done!


Leather Handles Variation

For leather handles, measure the desired positions first. Using an awl, poke a hole on both ends of the handle (I kept about a 1/2-inch space from each edge). Poke corresponding holes in the main bucket. (I placed mine about 2 inches from the top.) Make sure the holes go all the way through the main fabric and the lining, and are big enough for the screws. Line up the holes, and screw in the rivets. Repeat for the other handle.

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© 2016 By Sanae Ishida. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Sewing Happiness: A Year of Simple Projects for Living Well by permission of Sasquatch Books.

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