Modern Crafts

The tomato cage reincarnated as a lantern

By Kelly Wilkinson
Special to The Washington Post
Thursday, July 8, 2010

My garage is home to a graveyard of unused tomato cages. Every spring, seasonal amnesia sets in and I forget that the ubiquitous steel cages just don't have enough oomph to fully support my plants if it's a good growing year.

This project finds another use for those old frames, turning them into fabric lanterns. You can use any material for the shade. I used muslin and gussied it up with floral appliques attached using paper-backed fusible webbing. Sold in craft stores, the webbing is a wonderful invention that allows you to fuse two fabrics with an iron -- no sewing required. Or skip that step and use patterned fabric. I've even turned ripped bedsheets and old pillowcases into fabric lanterns.

The tomato cage lanterns are finished with simple hand stitching, but don't let that put you off the project: Passing a needle back and forth along the top and bottom goes quickly. And if your stitching isn't even, don't worry. Once you place a flickering light inside, all eyes will be on the twilight glow.

Wilkinson is a craft designer and journalist. Find more of her projects at

You'll need

- Tomato cage (I used a standard hardware-store variety, 33 inches tall with three rings and three legs)

- Strong wire cutters or hacksaw

- 1 yard of fabric, such as muslin or cotton

- 10 to 12 clothespins

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