42. How to Cover a Coffee Canister

Pretty covered coffee canisters

This episode is subtitled: ‘A surprise for Laura…’

‘Yes, of course I will, no problem. Have fun with all those eight-year-olds!’

My sister Laura was going to be helping out on a two-day trip with Hannah’s Brownie pack and she was worried that Ray wasn’t going to be able to feed himself and Jake properly while she was away. I happily agreed to pop in and help with meals to put her mind at rest, even though I thought the two boys were probably looking forward to a vegetable-free weekend for a change.

‘Thank you, Jenny, that’s such a relief – they’d be on sausage rolls and baked beans for lunch followed by pie and chips for tea, given half a chance!’

Nothing wrong with that once in a while, I thought, but Laura is so good at making sure the family eats well that I know she’d struggle to accept her standards slipping too much. So after work on Saturday I called round ready to prepare something fairly healthy for the three of us.

Jake answered the door. ‘Dad’s upstairs,’ he said, crouching down to say hello to Blue.salvagebox.co.uk - Blue sitting It was unusual for Jake not to have to share Blue with his sister so he made the most of it and took him straight through to the back garden while there was still a bit of daylight.

‘Hi Jenny, come up,’ shouted Ray over the banister, his head bent slightly, revealing a thick grey stripe in his hair that I’d not noticed before.

I got upstairs and found Laura and Ray’s bedroom in complete chaos. Laura is always so busy doing things for the family that Ray had decided to surprise her by decorating their bedroom, but he’d started it without a full plan of how it would look at the end. She was due back tomorrow and it looked as though there was a week’s worth of work left to do!

‘I’ve painted the fitted wardrobes grey,’ he said (I could see for myself), ‘but they don’t look exciting enough. I know she wouldn’t want anything flowery but I’m not sure what I can do with the walls to jazz things up.’

I thought she would love a feature wall in floral wallpaper but then I had a flash of inspiration for an alternative solution. ‘Leave it with me and I’ll be back in half an hour,’ I said, part way down the stairs already.

I’d bought a set of bedding a while ago that had been much reduced and I thought I’d be able to use the fabric for something in the future. The design was bold but I was pretty sure Laura would approve. I picked it up from my immense stash and raced back to their house to test it on Ray.

‘Ta dah! What do you think?’ I asked, as I pulled the quilt cover out of the packet.

‘Nice colour, Jen, but how’s a single quilt going to help us?’ Clearly Ray’s mind was not whizzing through the possibilities of jazzy accents we could add to the room like mine was.

‘You finish painting the walls and I’ll work with this,’ I suggested.

We only worked for an hour or so before calling a halt for the evening but we’d left it too late for me to start cooking so I gave Jake the choice of Chinese or Indian and we ordered a takeaway.

‘Don’t tell your mum!’ I said as we tucked into crispy shredded beef and sweet and sour chicken. Well, it is only once in a while.

I returned very early on Sunday to finish off the wardrobe panels, which matched the cushions and the covered coffee canisters. There were plenty of accents in the room now. See episode 25 for instructions on how to make the cushion covers. Guidelines for the coffee canisters begin at Blue’s paw print below.

When we eventually finished we took a step back to admire our handiwork. Ray wanted it to be ‘exciting’. It certainly was – we just hoped Laura liked it.

Apparently she loved it (phew), probably as much because Ray had been thoughtful enough to do something for her while she was away as the décor itself.

Blue's signatureI covered the coffee canisters in a similar way to the plant pots in episode 27 only this time the sides were straight so there was need to make a curved pattern and no need to worry about the water from wet compost seeping through to the fabric.

I had two sizes of illy container (kindly donated by Kim) – 125g and 250g.

Pretty covered coffee canisters

Pretty covered coffee canisters

Firstly, I cut out a rectangle of fabric for each container. I had wanted to cover only from the bottom of the illy design to the top of the illy design, leaving some of the silver colour showing but just inside the rim can be sharp where the foil seal has been removed so this prompted me to take the fabric over the top and down inside the canister.

My rectangles of fabric were 30cm long by 20cm high for the large ones and 28cm long by 15cm high for the small one. I worked out the circumference (30cm for the large one) by wrapping a piece of ribbon round, allowing for a small overlap, and measuring the ribbon.

Pretty covered coffee canisters

I glued the fabric to the container by pasting a thin layer of Mod Podge on, making sure the bottom edge of the fabric lined up with the bottom of the canister’s printed design. I found it best to paste the glue on about one third of the way round and stick the fabric, then the next third, and then the final third.

Pretty covered coffee canisters

Pretty covered coffee canisters

Pretty covered coffee canisters

I then pasted glue onto the rim and about half way down inside the canister, before folding the fabric over and smoothing it into place. I didn’t need the glue quite that far down but I didn’t want to risk the edge of the fabric not being stuck.

Pretty covered coffee canisters

Now for the lid. I needed at circular piece of fabric and because the illy design didn’t fill the lid I was able to make the piece of fabric smaller, allowing more of the silver colour to show. The fabric circles were glued on in the same way.

Pretty covered coffee canisters

Pretty covered coffee canisters

I used the same principle to cover the other two canisters to create a cluster that could be used for sweeping up a few of the untidy things (like Hannah’s hair clips) that find themselves cluttering up Laura’s dressing table.

Pretty covered coffee canisters

Pretty covered coffee canisters

Want to see what everything looked like in the bedroom? Here you go…

Pretty covered coffee canisters

Pretty covered coffee canisters

Pretty covered coffee canisters


  • Make sure there is a thin layer of Mod Podge over the whole canister.
  • Use the seam of the canister to ensure your first edge is straight.
  • Smooth out any wrinkles in the fabric as you stick it on, before pasting on the next bit of Mod Podge.
  • There is no need to turn the raw edges over; the Mod Podge will deter fraying.

Salvaged Items:

  • illy coffee canisters

I have a few more of these canisters so do any of you have any ideas how I could upcycle them?

See you all again next week for some creative salvaging.

Jenny signature


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