The tooly toolholder is a pattern by sewtogether.net available for purchase on crafty.com. I stumbled across it on Instagram while searching for ideas for the #madhattersteaswap. It doesn’t have a big following online, but it looked perfect for my parter who makes vintage signs and works with machinery, so I decided to take a risk.
Overall, I am pleased with the product I produced. It’s a great idea, and the functionality of something like this is endless. But, and it’s a significant ‘but’ in my view, this is not the easiest of patterns to follow. I class myself as a intermediate sewer (I can follow patterns, put in zippers, make bags, basic clothing, etc) but I really struggled with parts of this pattern. The pattern contains diagrams and some colour photos but I think it would be far more approachable if it incorporated more of a step by step approach and some action photos.
Bottom line – If you’re not an advanced sewer, approach with caution and plan on making a practice version first!
Tips and tweaks
There is a cutting chart for using one print for the whole Toolholder, and separate instructions for making the pockets out of different patterns. But there are no instructions for using a directional print. Thankfully the fabric I used for the cover (Adventures in Wonderland by Windham Fabrics) is not strictly directional. However, what I can recommend if you are using a directional print is to cut and make the pocket in full first, then use it as a prop to figure out which way the print for the cover should run.
Making the pockets is the second step in the pattern but you really need to think ahead about what you want to store in your holder so you can customise the individual pockets. Also figure 2 and figure 3 are not the clearest of images to follow. I ended up with a stitched line across the bottom of the smallest pocket (lower left corner of image) which I’m pretty confident should not be there because I was attempting to follow the fold and stitch lines by the images.
So my advice to you is abandon the figures 2-4, lay out your pocket pieces with the things you want to store placed in situ and mark your own dividing sew lines.
3. Easing the pocket
Three of the four pockets are smaller in width than the back pocket. The idea is that you will ease pockets 2-4 into 1 during basting so that the pockets have some dimension to fit your tools. This is the hardest step in the pattern and one that I belive needs much more detail in both written and visual instruction to make it approachable for sewers of all levels.
Easing 3 pockets (all of which are double thickness) into the width of the back pocket when you have already fixed all layers together by the pocket diving lines was, frankly, a nightmare. Unless you are very proficient in easing seams, you will likely end up with puckers. You can see in the picture below how my once straight pocket lines ended up curved!
My suggestion is that you just cut all the pockets to the width of pocket 1 and skip this step all together. In the end product, because of the board dimension for the cover, you really can’t include bulky tools anyway, so this step really creates more heartache than its worth
4. Joining the lining
The pattern suggests whipstitching the two lining pieces together. Now I whipstitch often joining hexies for my English paper piecing projects but I strongly recommend you do not whip stitch this join. This seam is what you will see all the time as it sits at the top of your tool holder when it’s open, and even the best whipstitcher will end up with a messy (to my eyes) edge.
Instead, I used the ladder stitch technique and the result is almost invisible.
5. Fleece substitute
The fleece piece serves multiple functions. It protects your tools, it stablises the toolholder, doubles as a pin cushion when rolled up and can serve as a protective mat when laid out flat. I didn’t have fleece to hand so I cut an extra piece of the lining material to length and fused it to a piece of low pile batting. I then edged both pieces in a tight zigzag stitch to finish it off.
I substituted the recommended elastic band closure for ribbon and it works really well. I attached press studs in two locations on the ribbon so as it be able to close the holder snuggly regardless of how many tools are inside.
I made this Tooly Toolholder for my partner as part of @annarelle’s #madhattersteaswap. The idea waz to create a medium size craft item, then add in your favourite tea and a favourite receipe. It was a fabulous swap; well run, well structured and nicely policed.
Here’s an overview of what I made:
I also got very lucky with an amazing partner who put a lot of effort and love into making me a custom mirror sign.