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Saturday, 16 December 2017

Free Pattern/Tutorial: Flat Pack Travel Tray [FSC Pt 2]

Spoonflower Swatch Flat Pack Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Adding back the "cut corner" from my travel tray project...
In mid-February of 2014, I posted my second freebie tutorial, for the Cutting Corners Collapsible Travel Tray. It's been my third post popular link. The one and only tray that I made while writing up the tutorial has been with me on my travels far and wide since then.

At the time, I had been looking for a different take on the standard square-shaped tray. As part of my Spoonflower swatch challenge, it's time to revisit the project and turn it back into a square... because a Spoonflower swatch makes a perfect sized travel tray.

Let me be clear that while this idea is by no means original, I'm not knowingly adapting anyone else's tutorial without giving credit or attribution. This is a variation that's been on my mind since I first created the triangular tray.

Spoonflower Swatch Flat Pack Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
A tray like this is very handy when travelling...

In this follow-up post, I indicated that if I were to incorporate a permanent way to secure the corners, it would be via a loop and button solution, which is what this is.

Here's how to make it.

Gather Supplies

You'll need the following:
This is the size of elastics (Goody brand) I used...
  • two Spoonflower swatches (cut with a 1/4" seam allowance all the way around) or a couple of 8.5" square pieces of fabric
  • one 4" square of Peltex (or substitute with whatever you have to provide structure; I actually recycled a piece of a blanket)
  • one 8" square of fusible fleece (cut smaller than fabric to keep out of seam allowance)
  • two hair elastics (see photo)
  • four 1/2" diameter buttons (with shank)
And of course, thread, pins, clips, etc.

Apply Interfacing

Take the piece of fabric that you want to use as the exterior and put it wrong side up on your work surface.

Center the square of Peltex in the middle of the piece of fabric, fusible side down. Then center the 8" square of fusible fleece on top, also fusible side down; pin.

Take this whole assembly to your ironing board, very carefully flip it over and fuse.

Mark Elastic Placement

Take the remaining piece of fabric and place it right sides together with the interfaced piece of fabric.

Spoonflower Swatch Flat Pack Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Make a mark 1.75" from the edge on each of the four sides as shown...

On the right side of the interior fabric (the one on the bottom as shown above), measure and mark a dot, 1.75" from the top edge of the fabric as shown. If you make the mark in the seam allowance, you can use a regular pen or pencil.

Measure and mark three more dots, one on each side, as indicated by the red arrows. These will be the locations for the hair elastics (half of one at each spot).

Insert Elastics & Sew

Insert a couple of pins to remind yourself of where you need to leave a gap for turning. If you actually used Peltex (which is stiff), make sure you leave a large enough opening.

Decide where you will start sewing and pin your hair elastics at the first two locations that you'll encounter. The following picture shows how the elastic is placed between the two fabrics.

Spoonflower Swatch Flat Pack Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
The gray loop approximates the location of the hair elastic between the two fabrics...

Pin the elastic so that about 45% of it is hidden between the two fabric layers, right on top of the dot that you made. (I'm not making you do math; just ensure that a larger portion of the elastic remains on the outside.)

Start sewing the two pieces of fabric together, using a 1/4" seam allowance. (This should be right along the edge of the fusible fleece.) When you get to the elastic, reinforce the area by sewing back and forth two or three times.

Cut Elastics & Continue Sewing

After you've sewn over your second elastic, cut away the excess from both... but don't throw them out!

Spoonflower Swatch Flat Pack Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Snip away the excess loops...

Use a pin to keep the two ends of each cut elastic together and place them at the other two marked locations.

Spoonflower Swatch Flat Pack Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Insert the two loops of elastic at the marked locations and continue sewing...

Continue sewing, reinforcing at each elastic. Don't forget to leave the turning gap!

Trim, Turn and Press

Trim off any excess elastic and clip away the corners as shown.

Spoonflower Swatch Flat Pack Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Clip and trim...

Turn the whole thing right side out and give it a good press, paying particular attention to the turning gap.

Spoonflower Swatch Flat Pack Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Pin the turning gap closed in preparation for topstitching...

Pin the opening and close it up by topstitching around the entire outer edge at about 1/8".

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Sew Around Base

Make a base for the tray by stitching around the perimeter of the Peltex piece.

Spoonflower Swatch Flat Pack Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Create a base by sewing around the Peltex...

By all means, use a ruler and draw lines with a fading marker if that's easier for you.

Spoonflower Swatch Flat Pack Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Almost there!

This is what you should have now. You're officially done at the sewing machine.

Attach Buttons

Use clips to hold the corners into position as shown.

Spoonflower Swatch Flat Pack Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Clip the corners together to help with placing the buttons...

Sew a button on the opposite side of each elastic loop.

Spoonflower Swatch Flat Pack Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Finally get to use my anchor themed buttons!

Be generous with the thread and attach your buttons securely, because the elastics will be pulling on them.

Spoonflower Swatch Flat Pack Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
The "flat packing" factor...

And there you have it — a collapsible, flat packing tray that will keep your small items safe wherever you go. This one holds a lot more than my original triangular version, and the depth (about 1.75") is perfect.

Spoonflower Swatch Flat Pack Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
A project imagined almost four years ago is finally realized!

Another two Spoonflower swatches put to good use. (The fabrics shown above are from my Inspiration collection.) Several more to go, so maybe I'll make another...

Spoonflower Swatch Flat Pack Travel Tray by eSheep Designs
Here's one featuring my Paisley Project fabrics...

Look for part three of my Spoonflower swatch challenge in the new year.

Like it? Want to keep it? For a copy of this tutorial in PDF format,
download it for free here!

Terms of Use

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

eSheep Designs swing tag


  1. This looks like a great take on the travel trays. I have one with Velcro on the corners that a friend made for me and I love. I've wanted to make some for others but it seems a bit fiddly to stitch little pieces of Velcro.This looks like an easier way to make the corners and you can buy the hair elastics at the dollar store.

    1. Yes, love the dollar store option for getting supplies. (My buttons even came from a dollar store.) If you don't mind the hand-sewing part to put on the buttons, I think this looks a lot nicer than using velcro, too.

      Thanks for stopping by, Sandra.

  2. Great idea to make this to fold down flat! I made a similar basket years ago, although it was sewn at the sides, so it didn't fold flat. I love bowls and baskets as they are so useful! Nice tutorial!

  3. Thank you so much for this tutorial. I just made 4 of these and instead of loops, I made buttonholes. Without your tute, I probably wouldn't have made these. So, again thank you.

    1. You're so welcome, Karen. Fantastic to hear that you've been busy with this project. Great idea to make "do with" buttonholes; thanks for sharing the tip!

  4. Clever idea to use buttons - love your choice, too. They go perfectly with the awesome text fabric!

  5. מקסים, תודה על השיתוף

  6. great idea for anyone for little things to keep from falling off of a counter ...thank you great ideas ....

    1. You're welcome, and thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. :-)


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