caught in a towel

Pantry Problem

Has this ever happen to you? Using clothespins to hold tea towels together around a counter-top fermenting jar of sprouting beans or seeds, sourdough starter, kombucha, or wanna-be vinegar (my latest obsession), looks so messy while keeping the light out.

In addition, those dry goods (beans, herbs, apples, pasta, etc.) that look so pretty in the jars on the open shelves are actually losing nutrition, flavor, and color the longer they are exposed to the light. They ALL NEED COVERS!

It looked like I had a pile of rags in the corner of my kitchen counter where I was baby-sitting several jars of potential vinegar. Surely, I could make something more attractive than and just as functional as tawdry towels and clothespins. I did not have much time and no budget, so it had to be a recycling project.

Necessity is the mother of invention.
A quote that has been attributed to Plato, Aesop, Victor Hugo, et al., therefore, it must be true!

Simple Solution

Canning jar sizescanning jar dimensions
I quickly found materials to make several jar covers in bags of old clothes and a box of sewing scraps and notions leftover from other projects.

<- Click either image for a larger view, ->
or print Jar Sizes & Dimensions in a combined reference chart!

Baby clothes, and even some doll clothes, are very close in size to fitting the canning jars without much alteration (cut off and sew up the sleeves)! I had so much fun that I made more glass glad rags than I really needed. A little imagination goes a long way!

I measured all the various size jars I was using with the idea to make most of the Can Clothes universal so they could be used for a few different size jars. For example, if I made a cover-up that fit a 1/2-gallon jar, it would also fit a quart jar if I folded up a cuff at the bottom. I rarely used jars smaller than a quart for fermenting, but I could see the potential of custom cover-ups for pints and 1/2-pint jars to give as gifts. I also had a few odd sized jars that needed custom fittings.

  • If you do not have a measuring tape, wrap a string around the jar and measure the string with the ruler to get the jar's circumference, which is also the diameter (see Canning Jar Dimensions chart) x Pi (3.14).
  • Be sure to add another inch or more to the width of your fabric to allow for the seam, ease of movement, and to add a little fullness; and to the length of the fabric for a hem or as a chase for the elastic or drawstrings at the top.

jar bonnetsJar bonnets for ferments can be made from pieces of real cheesecloth (sold by cheese suppliers, not the grocery store), sackcloth, linens, or cotton pillowcases (to allow ferments to breathe). The fabrics can be draped over the jar opening to be used in place of the lid center and secured with the lid ring, or a heavy rubber band.

The white plastic lids made for canning jars can be used plain or embellished, or a decorative bonnet can be created from any type of cloth with elastic or draw-string ties to attach over the lids, and finished with lace and ribbon trim.

Embellish Can Clothes with pockets (or utilize existing pockets on the recycling garment), snaps, buttons, grommets, ties, and loops to attach tags to label the contents and make notes. Be creative and incorporate fashionable ways of attaching gift tags into the clothing designs!

I did not use bottoms for the Can Clothes of the large jars because I did not want them sliding around or tip over from an uneven surface. Non-slip material could be used for the bottoms (like on slipper socks and pajama feet), but that would be an additional expense and require more sewing that I could not afford.

The Results

Long-sleeved shirts, spent jeans, and old dresses become potential Can Clothes . . .
Kasual KerrMarlboro CanJar JeansGranny Glass

. . . along with the sleeves of adult sweat shirts and tees, and the legs of kid's sweat pants!
There is NO hemming required with knits, so NO stitching!
Belle from BallMuscle Mason

Crocheted Christmas covers can be made, as well as decorative dispenser designs!
Teasing tube socks with pearls and telling (iron-on) transfers are sure to please.
Glass Grinchde SpencerSassy Sockyda Mom


Can Clothes are good! They repurpose old scraps of clothes very well, allow creative energy to be spent, and dress up your kitchens, pantries, and cupboards. No more tawdry towels with clothespins and they make great gifts, too! So what are you waiting for? Make some clothes for those naked cans; put garments around the glass, and jeans on those jars! Oh, and have a very happy holiday, too!