How to Make a Roll-Up Tool Organizer, Complete with Embroidered Size Labelscomments (7) December 20th, 2008
Here's the perfect accessory to make if you have small hand tools without a home. Tired of looking for your 3/8-inch wrench? Or maybe you're tired of looking for someone else's? This tool roll is so quick and easy to make, you can whip up one for yourself and one for all your crafting friends in time to stick them under the tree. Don't be put off by the machine-embroidered size labels if you don't have an embroidery machine; you can label the pockets by writing the sizes using a Sharpie marker!
If you do have an embroidery machine, use the built-in numbers to stitch them out. My good friends Sue and Dan suggested this project to me when I was trying to come up with the perfect guy craft last week. I had already started the cozy baseball cap headband, but I loved this idea, too. I got on the phone with my dad to see if he needed one of these to organize his wrenches and he spent the next half an hour explaining the differences between his two sets—one being metric and the other in inches. Somewhere in the conversation I interjected, "Yes, Dad, I know. There's 25 mm to an inch" (I think he was impressed!). Anyway, I told him I was making a leather tool roll, and I would embroider the sizes on the pockets so he could organize one of his sets of wrenches. I wrote down the details and got off the phone. Not two minutes later, he called me back to say that he thought I should make one out of canvas or denim to make the project more user friendly. I thought this was a great idea...so I made two, one leather and the other denim. There are slight differences in the steps because you don't have to finish the edges of the leather. No matter which one you choose to make, your tools will be very happy!
You can customize the size of this project to fit your set of tools. You will need the length and width measurements of the smallest and the biggest ones. You will also need to know how many tools there are in the set. I am making a tool roll for a set of wrenches with the smallest wrench being 5 inches long and 1 inch wide. The largest is 9 inches long and 1-1/2 inches wide.
Here's what you'll need:
- One 14-inch x 18-inch piece of leather (if you are making yours out of denim, you need a 28-inch x 18-inch piece)
- One piece of leather (or denim) that is 18 inches wide and 2 inches shorter than the longest tool in the set
- Two 14-inch pieces of leather, twill tape, or grosgrain ribbon for the ties (I used 1/2-inch-wide strips of leather for both)
- Leather or metallica needle, size 14 or 16
- All-purpose polyester thread
- Heavy topstitching thread
- Embroidery machine with built-in numbers, tear-away stabilizer, 505 Temporary Adhesive Spray, embroidery thread
To make the pocket piece, measure the shortest and longest tools and subtract 1 inch from the shortest and 2 inches from the longest. To place the tools shortest to longest, mark the left side with the smaller measurement and the right with the longer one. Measure from the bottom edge on both sides. My shortest wrench was 5 inches, so I marked the left edge 4 inches from the bottom. The longest wrench was 11 inches long, so I marked the right edge 9 inches from the bottom.
Here are the two pieces you need to make a leather tool roll. If you are going to make yours out of denim, the back piece needs to be twice as high—you can fold it in half and sew around the edge to finish the raw edges.
Measure the width of your tools—it's likely that the shorter ones will be narrower than the taller ones. I made my pockets three widths: 1-1/2 inches for the smaller tools, 1-3/4 inches for the middle-sized ones, and 2 inches for the two tallest. You want to allow about 1/2 inch extra room to make it easy get the wrenches in and out of the pockets.
Lay a ruler along the bottom edge of the pocket piece. Starting 1 inch in from the left side, begin marking the pockets with a small vertical line of chalk. (I drew four lines 1-1/2 inches apart to make the three narrowest pockets. Then I switched to drawing lines 1-3/4 inches apart for the next two pockets, and finally 2 inches apart for the last two pockets, making a total of seven pockets. To make a guideline for the embroidered numbers, mark the center of each pocket with a vertical line. Draw a horizontal line 2 inches up from the bottom edge across all the vertical lines. Use this horizontal line to stitch the numbers on. Check your tools to see if they are metric or inches.
Hoop a piece of heavy tear-away stabilizer and use 505 Temporary Adhesive Spray to adhere the pocket in the hoop. I line the bottom edge of the pocket with the long edge of the hoop. You can stitch several labels in one hooping. Program the first size, orient it sideways on the screen, and move it to the first marking. After you embroider it, clear your screen, program the next number on the screen, and repeat the process until you've stitched as many labels as will fit.
When you remove the leather or fabric from the hoop, trim all your threads first and then carefully pull it away from the stabilizer without removing it from the hoop. If you're careful, you should get little holes where the numbers stitched. Use a scrap of stabilizer and some spray to patch the holes. Patch the holes from inside the hoop so you don't have to worry about the scrap falling or folding over under the hoop while it's embroidering.
My denim tool roll will be home to a set of wrenches that are sized in inches. If you have embroidery software that allows you to customize lettering, it's much easier to make the fractions on the computer and import them to your embroidery machine (my machine didn't have a back slash to make the fraction).
After you're finished embroidering, remove the stabilizer and finish the top edge. I used a three-step zigzag.
After you finish the edge, press it under 1/2 inch.
Topstitch along the edge to finish it. If you are working with leather, stitch 1/4 inch away from the top edge to help keep it from stretching.
Position the completed pocket on the lower edge of the backing. Cut two pieces of 1/2-inch leather, grosgrain ribbon, or twill tape approximately 14 inches long. Position them at the midpoint along the left edge. If you are making a leather tool roll, position the pocket and ties as shown, then sew all the way around 1/4 inch from the edge.
Fold the top edge of the denim over, aligning it with the bottom edge. Press to get it to lie perfectly even, and pin along the edge.
Stitch along the raw edges, leaving a 6-inch opening on the left side so you can turn the tool roll to the right side.
The lower corners are going to be really thick—three layers of denim. Trim the point and a few inches of the seam allowance down to 1/8 inch so you can get a crisp point when you turn it to the right side.
Press the seam allowances under 1/2 inch along the opening.
Draw lines with chalk, centered between the numbers to make the individual pockets. Start sewing 1 inch to 1-1/2 inches from the bottom edge. (Don't sew all the way to the bottom edge...the tools will fit in there better.)
Add a bartack at the top edge of each line of stitching to reinforce the pocket openings.
Also, bartack 1/8 inch away from the edge over the ties to reinforce them.
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
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