Pickle Project: Variations on the Tool Roll

Pickle Project_ Variations on the tool roll (PDF)

Tool rolls are a handy way to keep the tools you need ready to hand, organized, and contained. There are endless variations on this simple item, and they are pretty straightforward to make.

Three tool rolls outside

And they’re good for more than just cycling: The same basic concept can be used to carry drum sticks, knitting needles, knives, a set of travel silverware, toiletries, art supplies like pencils and brushes, all kinds of stuff. It’s a blank slate that you can fill with whatever slots and pockets you need, then roll up and carry with you. With so many ways to make a tool roll, they can be wonderful, personal, practical handmade gifts for almost anyone.

Tool Rolls Inside

You might not know this, but in addition to Dill Pickle bags, I also make soft cases for historical woodwind instruments, which you can find at www.canzonet.net. These are basically padded tool rolls, too!

Alto Recorder Roll

There are infinite ways to make them, as complicated or as simple as you like. They can even make a perfect first sewing project!

Under-seat roll

This tutorial will show you how to design your own tool roll to suit your own needs, or exactly how to duplicate the ones I made.

Click here to download the PDF: Pickle Project_ Variations on the tool roll

It doesn’t cover all the basics of things like zippers and sewing on straps though, because that is covered in last year’s tutorial on luggage and travel accessories (with a whole section just on zippers). So do check back to that one if you’re unsure on any of these steps!

As always, I created this free tutorial for your personal non-commercial use. If you enjoy it, please consider making a donation to Days for Girls (www.daysforgirls.org/). They harness the enthusiasm and skills of home sewing volunteers to make washable, re-usable sanitary pads for women and girls in developing countries who otherwise do not have access to feminine products, and often lose several days of school or work per month due to stigmas surrounding periods and the lack of available products to let them get on with their lives during that time. If you have ever wondered, “gee it must be inconvenient to get your period while on a long brevet”, you can imagine what an important but hidden cause this is for millions of women.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions, comments, or corrections, or just to show off your handiwork! I love to see what people make!

Thanks, and enjoy!

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Pickle Project: Make your own wedge-style saddle pack

*** This pattern is now also available as a kit! The kit includes everything you need to make any of the options for pockets in the pattern, and an assortment of fabrics and colors. Check them out on the “Accessories” page!***

Last year I posted a free sewing pattern for a cycling cap, as a DIY project you can make with either new or reclaimed materials. If you missed it, check it out. It’s got two brim options and optional earflaps, so it works for summer or winter.

So this year I thought I’d continue the tradition and post a pattern for a basic wedge-style saddle pack. There are a million different ways you can go with this: You can buy new materials, or you can cut up an old backpack. You can use canvas, leather, denim, Cordura, vinyl, etc. It’s small enough that if you don’t have a sewing machine, it won’t take unmanageably long to sew it by hand. The pattern pieces are  in jpeg format; click on the image for a full-sized file that you can print onto letter-sized paper. The exact scale isn’t that critical, as long as all three pieces are the same scale. The pdf of instructions does include details on how to make it bigger in each direction, but you can also save yourself some trouble and print at something other than 100% if you want to change the size. It will work fine as long as the three pieces are to the same scale; the ruler is included on each page so that you can double check that the scales match.

Here are two finished examples:

blue finished        Pink finished







The blue one is made of vinyl-coated polyester, which is the same stuff as a lot of tarps and banners. It’s a great way to make use of that stuff if you have an old banner or if you ask a sign/banner shop for scraps. You’ll also notice that the sewn-down loops are made of old inner tube, and that the edges are bound with a cut-up inner tube, too.

The pink one is made of a really cheesy backpack that I bought in a drug store for cheap years ago while I was traveling and needed something for a drop bag. It’s been sitting in the closet ever since. The backpack had the added bonus of saving me a step, since I was able to use the already-existing zipper.

You can download the full instructions as a PDF complete with photos and including the full sized pattern pieces here.  The PDF is really huge because it has lots of photos, so alternatively, you can view the instructions as a web page here. The thumbnails of the pattern pieces are below; click on the thumbnails to see full-sized jpeg images, which should fill standard letter-sized paper when printed at 100%.

The instructions are fairly comprehensive and include plenty of tips about construction, materials, etc. Have fun, and let me know what you think!

This pattern is available for free for your personal use. If you enjoy it, please consider donating to Bikes Not Bombs, the League of American Bicyclists, or some other worthy cycling organization. If you intend to sell items made from this pattern or any version of it, please contact me first.

If you have any feedback, questions or comments, please consider posting them as comments to this post so that others can benefit from your experiences. Happy Holidays!

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