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Saturday, 15 February 2014

Free Pattern/Tutorial: The "Cutting Corners" Collapsible Travel Tray

Cutting Corners Collapsible Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
My Cutting Corners Collapsible Travel Tray...
You know how in the classier hotels, the water glasses are capped with these paper "hats" that are about an inch deep? Without exception, I always end up putting my ring, watch, and necklace into one of those when I turn in for the night. A year and a half ago, I purchased a small brass plate from Tunisia to serve that function, but I worry about leaving it behind somewhere and thus losing a cherished souvenir.

Which means, of course, that I have to step up and create my own collapsible tray! You know what I mean — one of those "flat pack" things where, when you pinch the corners together, it forms a tray that you can use to hold small items. Depending on the size of the square that you start out with, you can make these as tiny or as large as you need.

I've already encountered several patterns/tutorials for these things during my online browsing over the past year and some. Oddly enough, however, none have enticed me to make one yet, likely because for such a small item, all of the patterns seemed to require a bit more work than I was prepared to do. So leave it to me to design a version that literally "cuts a corner" out of the equation, leading to the name of the project.

Instead of starting with a square, I thought, why not make it a triangle? (One less corner to deal with... who won't appreciate that?) And instead of all those little ribbons and ties or snap fasteners or hooks and eyes, what about simple binder clips? This one will take you no time at all to put together; I'm talking you'll be using it in about a half an hour!

Material requirements: one piece of fabric about 17” x 10”; fusible stabilizer or interfacing (I used D├ęcor Bond) cut to a slightly smaller size, a small piece of Peltex about 4.5" square, and contrasting thread. Oh, and of course, three small binder clips (half inch size).

Make the Pattern

As with my Wave Purse Organizer, all you need for the pattern is a piece of 8.5" x 11" paper. Place it down landscape mode in front of you and make two marks, 0.5" in from each edge, along the bottom left and right (this results in a 10 inch edge along the bottom, between the marks).

Also mark the centre of the page at the top.

The Cutting Corners Collapsible Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Make three marks on a regular 8.5 x 11 piece of paper...
Draw a line connecting each mark on the bottom of the page with the centre mark at the top of the page. This creates an approximate 10 inch equilateral triangle. (Don't bother telling me that it therefore isn't equilateral, I'm just trying to keep things simple.)

Cut out your triangle pattern piece.

Next, measure and cut out an equilateral triangle measuring 4.5". (I will provide instructions on how to create an equilateral triangle of any size in my posting next week.)

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Cut the Fabric

Pin your large triangle pattern to your folded piece of fabric. (The bottom of your triangle should be cut on the fold.)

The Cutting Corners Collapsible Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
The bottom edge is cut on the fold...

Cut and Apply Interfacing

Use your small triangle pattern piece to cut your piece of Peltex, then set aside for the moment.

Before I used the large triangle pattern piece to cut my interfacing, I folded the edges in to create a slightly smaller triangle. (The seam allowance for this project is going to be 3/8", so use that as your guide.)

The Cutting Corners Collapsible Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Fold in edges of pattern piece by about 3/8" before using it to cut the interfacing... 

You will need to cut and apply two pieces of interfacing, one to each (wrong) side of your fabric piece.

The Cutting Corners Collapsible Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Fuse interfacing pieces to the wrong side of your fabric piece...

Fold your fabric in half, right sides together and press; pin together to prepare for sewing.

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Sew it Up

Sewing doesn't get much simpler than this. You will need to leave a turning gap, so start sewing about an inch and a half in front of one of the corners along the edge that you are going to leave open. Stitch, using a 3/8" seam allowance.

The Cutting Corners Collapsible Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Sew along the edges using a 3/8" seam; leaving a gap for turning...

Continue sewing all the way around — even along the folded edge — until you sew past the other corner on the open side. Reinforce stitching at both start and end points.

Finish it Up

Clip the corners and turn right side out, carefully poking out the corners as you do so. Press well, paying particular attention to the side with the turning gap.

Slip the Peltex piece inside and centre it in the middle of the whole assembly. Once you are satisfied with the placement, press well to fuse it to your fabric.

The Cutting Corners Collapsible Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Centre Peltex piece inside and fuse...

Stitch around the entire triangle, close to the edge. This will close up your turning gap.

The Cutting Corners Collapsible Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Stitch all around to close the turning gap...

You're done! Pinch the corners and clip them together with your binder clips and you've got yourself a collapsible travel tray!

The Cutting Corners Collapsible Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Presto! Done and ready to use in under an hour...

Next week, I'll follow up with a posting about how to modify this so that you're cutting "fewer" corners... ;-)

UPDATE: Did you enjoy this? How about trying out a similar project with all four corners??

If you want to have a copy of this tutorial in PDF format,
you can download it for free here!

Terms of Use

If you are "sew" inclined, feel free to make and sell as many Cutting Corners Collapsible Travel Trays as you care to; I only ask that you credit me and this blog by attaching the following card to the item.

eSheep Designs swing tag


  1. I like it but I would misplace the clips I think I will try it with snaps. Thank you for inspiring my imagination.

    1. Most welcome! And I always say - whatever works best for you, go for it.


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