DIY Canvas Tote Using a Five Gallon Bucket and Drop Cloth

You know those ideas you get and you're not sure how they'll work out?

That's how I felt about my idea to turn a five gallon bucket into a canvas tote.

We just recently had some built ins put in upstairs in our old house, to block off a really dangerous ledge that goes out over the staircase.  We designed it mostly for the purpose of keeping the kids safe, but I also thought I could use the shelves for storage and pretty things.

I needed a couple of large totes and I had something very specific in my mind.  That's where I decided to try my hand at fixing up a humble old five gallon bucket.  Heavens knows we have plenty of those laying around.

diy 5 gallon bucket to canvas tote

For this project I used the same painter's drop cloth that I used for my couch slipcovers, bench slipcover, and that I talked about bleaching in this post.

It's safe to say I like working with drop cloth.

To begin this project, I measured across the top of the bucket to get the size for the bottom circle.  Since the top is larger than the bottom, I thought it would be best to measure the largest point.

So, for my five gallon bucket, I cut out two circles 12.5" in diameter.  

The reason I cut two is I will need one for the inside and one for the outside.  If this is confusing, you will see what I mean later. 

diy 5 gallon bucket canvas tote

To get the circle shape I cut around the top of the bucket.

diy 5 gallon bucket canvas tote

Then I folded it over itself twice to even up the edges.

diy 5 gallon bucket canvas tote

It took a little tinkering to get to my perfect 12.5" circle.  

Then, I used that circle as a pattern to cut the second one.

diy 5 gallon bucket canvas tote

Next, I measured around the bucket to determine the width I would need for the main rectangular piece I would use to go around the bucket.  I added on an inch for seam allowance.

So, for my bucket, I made the width of the rectangular piece 40", since the bucket was 39" in diameter and I would need 1" for seam allowance.

I didn't want to make anything fit too tightly, because I wanted it to look like a relaxed canvas tote.  

diy 5 gallon bucket canvas tote

Next I needed to get the length of the main rectangular pieces.

Again, there would be two.  One for the inside and one for the outside.

BUT, here's the catch.  These two rectangular pieces had the same width but not the same length.  This is because I wanted to fold the inside piece over the outside of the bucket about five inches and the outside piece needed to be quite a bit longer to secure it to the inside.

That sounds like a whole lot of mumble jumble, but I promise it will totally make sense when you see the upcoming pictures.  

This truly was an easy project.  

diy 5 gallon bucket canvas tote

So to recap, the cut list for a standard size five gallon bucket (is there such a thing?) is as follows:

2- 12.5" diameter circles

1- 40" by 29" rectangle for the outside piece

1- 40" by 20" rectangle for the inside piece *For this piece make sure to cut one of your long ends (40" side) along the drop cloth's already hemmed edges.  This will come in handy later when you go to fold it over the outside of the bucket.  You won't have to do any additional hemming.

The reason the inside piece is 40" by 20" is as follows.  Since the bucket is 14.5" tall and I wanted the inside piece to fold over the outside about five inches or so, 20 inches would be the right length to accomplish this. 

To sew:

First, fold the rectangle in half along the long side and sew the short ends together, with a 1/2 inch seam.

So, when you sew the 40" by 29" piece together you will end up with a piece that is 20ish inches wide and 29" long when laid down flat.

Next, pin that piece to the circle as I have done below:

diy 5 gallon bucket canvas tote

In the picture below I had sewn the circle to the inside piece, so when you look down into the bucket you will not see the raw edges, but a nicely sewn seam.

Just make sure the the raw edges of the rectangle and the raw edges of the circle are all on the same side.

Notice how in the picture below the raw edges for the rectangular piece and the raw edges for the circle are all visible?  That is because it is going to be placed down inside the bucket.  

Also, please note that the top is the drop cloth's original hemmed edge.  If you are using some kind of other canvas fabric, and not pre-hemmed drop cloth, you will need to put a hem in the top, so it will be nicely finished when you go to fold it over the outside of the bucket.

diy 5 gallon bucket canvas tote

Next, I slipped the outside piece (the original 40" by 29" rectangle, the longer one) onto the outside of the bucket.

I pushed all the excess inside and then hot glued it, on the inside, into place.

diy 5 gallon bucket canvas tote

All raw edges are hidden inside.

diy 5 gallon bucket canvas tote
diy 5 gallon bucket canvas tote

Next I took my inside (shorter piece) and placed it inside the bucket hiding the raw edges and hot glue from my outside piece.

diy 5 gallon bucket canvas tote

I folded the inside piece over the top and to the outside.

*See the image of the completed project at the top of this post to see how I folded the inside piece over about five inches, if this doesn't make sense.

I purchased this leather strip from Joann's to use for making the handles.

I cut out two 12" pieces.

Next, I used some short wood screws, and antique upholstery tacks, to attach the leather straps.

wood screws

I simply placed the 12" leather straps on opposite sides of the bucket and used the screws, and my drill, to drive them in. 

diy drop cloth tote

To cover up the screws, and make it look more polished, I broke the tack parts off of some antique upholstery tacks and hot glued the tops over the screws.

diy canvas tote

I loove the way this project turned out.

I want to make about five more.

Hey, it seems like a great way to put to use some of the five gallon buckets that we are hoarding in the garage.

canvas tote with leather handles image

Pin it for later:

DIY 5 gallon bucket to canvas tote

What do you think? Will you try to make your own canvas tote using a five gallon bucket?  

I can't wait to hear how it goes for you!

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