Fabric trays and a riveting experience


I mentioned in my blog post a week or so back that I had tackled my sewing room, well more specifically my WIP drawer and made a batch of see through project bags – 19 no less. I’m afraid there are still more drawers to sort and the bookcase, but a start is a start. One thing that struck me when I was making my production line of WIP bags was how disorganised my sewing process was as well as storage. Sewing was fraught with trying to find things all the time. Essential tools like rotary cutters, markers, scissors  etc would get caught up in fabric and the general mess so I seemed to spend as much time looking for things, than actually sewing. Then there were the heaps of scraps that were generated when cutting, some for scraps, some for the cushions for the cat home – I needed a better process.

When I’m sewing, the tray at the front of my bionic gear bag serves to coral things like seam rippers,  pin cushion etc and I try hard to make sure I put everything back in the tray so it’s easy to find.


I needed the same for when I’m cutting and assembling. This, in the absence of a big enough standing height cutting bench (in my dreams…), is done on the floor. For big cutting jobs I use the island unit in the kitchen but for the odd pieces for blocks, assembling things etc it’s down on the floor. I struck upon the idea of fabric trays. A quick google search and it was a toss up between Aneela Hoey’s zip up tray, her stacking trays or the free pattern byAnna Graham Noodlehead Robert Kaufmann. I settled on the latter.


These were fun and quick to make.  It’s a very clever design and I presume given that  the pattern piece refers to Kaufmann’s Essex line, its a showcase for that product. This is a linen cotton mix so a lovely texture and with some heft to it. So for the first couple I stuck with linen mixes including the Essex Yarn Dyed range and this gorgeous screen print on that fabric from Carolyn Friedlander’s Euclids range.


3CD35679-4257-491F-9141-45E80807D730I’d found a very helpful post on making these by Sophie of Luna Loves Quilts. I enjoy her blog, she has a lovely fresh take on quilting and she writes it in both French and English….. bilingualism isn’t going to be happening any time soon on this blog I’m afraid given that I barely scraped through my French ‘O’ level much to the surprise of my French teacher and me! Sophie gave some excellent tips on changing up the construction which worked very well. I don’t want to steal her thunder and repeat them here so suffice to say the only change I didn’t do was make bias binding. She’s right it would be easier with those curved corners but I hate taking a lovely half yard of material then slicing it in two on the diagonal then having two awkward pieces left.


I made a number of sizes. The one in the pattern is on the small side made from a pattern piece 8.5” by 11”. I increased those sizes by 10%, rounded down to the nearest 1/4”, to get a set of three stacking trays.


Using Essex yarn dyed fabric and other linen mixes in my stash worked very well. Couldn’t decide whether it was better to put the stiff fusible interfacing on the exterior or interior piece. Pluses and minuses to both.

I then tried with quilting cotton…. not so successful.


Fusing this onto the stiff interfacing made it very wrinkly when folded up as the inside of the tray, it was better as an exterior but not much.  I presume the much greater wrinkliness (is that a word?) is because the fabric is a tighter weave than the linen mix even more so as this is an AGF fabric.  But I had a play and came up with the fact that if you add a fusible wadding to both pieces of fabric in addition to the stiff interfacing then it seems to work but only if the stiff interfacing is on the exterior piece. This tray features Helen Steele’s lovely new screen print designs, as I know her in real life I’ve left her name on there.


786096BB-4F38-4E4B-9766-0E1B93542FC7The riveted leather pieces have absolutely no purpose other than being decorative. I’ve been putting off learning how to do rivets despite the fact that I think they look very slick and make a totebag look professional and well finished. I just knew it wouldn’t be easy. And having bought leather, a hole punch and a variety of rivets this very much proved to be the case! I had a success rate of around one rivet per 4!  It looks very simple on YouTube videos and I think the knack is doing it in one hammer blow.  I had to order more rivets as I quickly worked through the relatively small number sent with the sample pack. But aside from gnashing teeth when they didn’t work, when they did they looked good.

And have these trays helped with organisation?  Well let’s put it this way as I made successive trays I used the finished ones  to help me be more organised with the latest trays  and a lot less things got lost.

They will also make great gifts so at watch  out family and friends…..

So for future reference

1. In terms of sizes an increase of 10% but then down to the nearest 1/4” makes them stack nicely.

2. With linen mix fabric I found the stiff interfacing can go on either the exterior or interior pieces.

3. With quilting cotton the exterior needs to firstly have a low loft fusible wadding like Pellon 430 fused on to it and then the stiff interfacing. The interior also benefits from a layer of low loft fusible wadding.


Linking up with Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts  

and Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts.

5 thoughts on “Fabric trays and a riveting experience

  1. These trays are really lovely! You did a nice job, and I appreciate all the links and insights you have shared. This looks like something I might like to try myself. ~smile~ Roseanne


  2. Pingback: Sunday stash – my most expensive fabric purchase ever | The Lilac Cat

  3. Pingback: 2017 review of highs and lows and a look at 2018. | The Lilac Cat

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