Posted by: michelenel | 4 September, 2014

Upcycled plastic jar to sewing kit…..

Has anyone else noticed just how expensive good glass jars have become?  I adore all glass containers, but especially those old fashioned ones that we use in the kitchen and pantry; great examples are Kilner, Ball, Mason and Le Parfait to name a few.  To be fair, part of the problem is probably one of our own making because we are constantly finding imaginative ways to use them in the home…other than preserving that is!

A few years ago I spent a wonderful afternoon with some lovely ladies showing them how to make a sewing kit from a glass jar – the ones with the ring seal.  They are so useful and pretty and make a great gift for anyone who is just starting to sew and I know just the person that would appreciate one of these.  Not having any spare jars, and not wanting to spend too much money on the kit, I realised that I could do almost the same thing but using an empty food jar – not as beautiful, but just as useful.

Rather than just show you the finished product I decided to take pictures as I went along – a tutorial for anyone wanting to try this for themselves – after all, Christmas is on the way and these could make wonderful gifts.

Here is the finished product….


You will need…

  • a reasonable sized glass or plastic jar to fit things like snips, pins, needles, tape measure etc.
  • Fabric for the pin cushion
  • Wadding, batting or anything soft to stuff the pin cushion
  • Strong thread and needle
  • Awl or thin nail and hammer
  • Optional: ribbon to decorate
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun or strong glue

Here is the plastic jar I used…it is from a large container of couscous from Costco…


Remove the lid and if it has a cardboard or plastic lining in the lid remove it…..


Take something circular and smaller than the lid and use it to draw a circle on the inside of the lid…..




Using the awl (or a nail and hammer) puncture a ring of holes around the lid on the line you made.  Make the holes big enough for your needle to thread through easily.   Mine are about 1cm apart but don’t be too fussy about this because it really is just to secure your pincushion to the lid…..




Cut out between 6 and 10 circles of wadding/batting starting at the same size as your punched holes down to about half the size of the circle.  These just need to be graduated to create a nice dome shape.  If you have no wadding/batting just use anything you have – scrap fabric, pantyhose etc…..


Cut a round piece of fabric for the pincushion, a couple of centimetres bigger than your lid.  I used pinking shears but you could also sew a small hem. Thread your needle with strong thread which is at least 3 times as long as your circle – I used linen thread but quilting thread or thin string is good too…..

Draw a circle on the fabric about the size of your lid (I made mine a bit smaller but wish it had been bigger to give a more rounded and pouffier pincushion)…..

Make a row of stitches on the line around your fabric leaving a tail of thread at the beginning and end…..IMG_0550

Place your circle of batting onto the fabric…..

Gently pull the thread until you have a very slightly gathered circle which is domed (your gathered circle should now be the same, or very similar size, to your punched hole circle…..


Tie a knot to stop the gathering from unravelling (do NOT cut the threads)…..


Using one of the thread tails begin to sew the fabric to the lid through the holes you made.  Sew on top of your gathering stitches to keep it neat and tidy…..


The inside of your lid should now have a row of stitches which have secured the pincushion to the lid.  Tie this off with a knot and clip the threads…..


Using the cardboard lining from the lid, cut out a circle of fabric to go inside the lid…..




Optionally you can also cut a circle of wadding/batting for the inside of the lid but this MUST be a few centimetres smaller all round or the lid will not screw back on…..


Using a glue gun stick down the wadding if you are using it.  I made sure that I ran the glue over the threads to make them super secure…..


Then glue down the new fabric lid lining…..


On the top of the lid, raise the frill on the pincushion and carefully glue all around where your stitches go through the fabric and into the plastic lid; this is to ensure the fabric pincushion does not come off the lid if any of the threads ever break…..


Optionally you can now add a ribbon, beading or any other type of trim around the pincushion at the level of the stitching.  This will cover your threads to make them more secure and finish off the pincushion…..

IMG_0563 IMG_0564

PS.  My glue gun skills are appalling!!! I really should just stick with needle and thread!  I had plenty of dried glue strings and blobs to get rid of after I was finished.

Get creative… stitch a few fabric loops inside the lid for attaching needles or safety pins to; paint your jar in lovely matching colours or with the recipients name; glue braid or ribbon around the edge of the lid or the jar to make it really decorative; splash out and enjoy yourself!

IMG_0566 IMG_0573

Place your lid onto the jar, and just as importantly, fill it with lovely sewing goodies and give it to someone special!

Happy sewing everyone.


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