I often find when I am sewing I use my handy sewing clips and like to be able to have a place that they can live and I can just drop them so I can carry on sewing. For so long I just let them drop on the table and would find them scattered everywhere and even the floor.
I finally stumbled upon the idea of having a catch-all tray, somewhere for everything to be caught when I am busy concentrating on sewing in a straight line.
These trays are super easy to make and even easier to use. They can be made in any size or material and can be used for pretty much anything you need them for.
For example, they would be great to put keys in, great to use in drawers for cutlery and great for storing items such as jewellery, make-up and hair grips.
- Rotary Cutter
- Quilting Ruler
- Fabric – one pattern for lining and another the outer layer. (these can also be in a variety of sizes to suit the person and purpose)
- Matching colour thread
- Sewing Machine Preferably
- Sewing Clips if available – these are just easier to use at a later step.
- Fabric stiffener – you can choose how rigid you wish to make the fabric catch-all tray depending on it’s designed to use and purpose.
Check out my resources page for all the tools and equipment I use and recommend.
How To Make A Fabric Catch-All Tray
Before starting to cut out fabric and piecing fabrics together you want to work out the true purpose of the catch-all tray, where it will be used and what for.
That way you can make it to the right size, you can add in fabric stiffener if you wish and you can even quilt it to add detail.
I found that I was making a number of sizes to be used in my sewing room, one for my sewing clips and another for my tape measures.
I always like to start by making sure my measurements are correct. I decided to make a simple square fabric catch-all tray enough to fit my sewing clips in. I made my fabric squares 10 inches by 11 inches.
You can make your fabric catch-all tray any size you want, if you have a size in mind but want to try it out you can always go through the process with paper first.
Tip: Depending on how deep you want your tray will determine how big of a square you will want to start with.
If you can’t quite visualise it from a flat piece of fabric, look at making a mock up in paper to get a better understanding of the size and shape before jumping into your lovely fabric.
The size will change as you fold the sides together towards the end.
Iron the fabric you are using to make sure all creases and ripples are out.
Using a self-healing cutting mat place your fabric on top and cut the dimensions of your catch-all tray. For example, I would cut 8 x 8 inches in both fabrics and fabric stiffener. Cut 1 square in each fabric and 1 in the fabric stiffener.
If you struggle to create a crisp and symmetrical square it may be due to a wonky edge on your fabric. You can adjust this by following these steps.
The fabric stiffener needs to be sandwiched between the 2 pieces of fabric. To start, lay the first piece with the right side facing up, then place the other fabric face down and then the stiffener on top.
This will insure that the stabilizer is in the middle. Alternatively, use iron on and make sure it is ironed to the wrong side of either piece of your fabrics.
Pin or clip the edges into place, sew with a quarter inch seam on all sides making sure you leave a 2-3 inch gape to turn through once you are done.
Once you have sewn your sides together, clips each of the 4 corners on the diagonal.
Place your scissors on teh diagonal across the point of the corner. Be sure not to clip the seam as this will cause your catch-all tray to have a hole in the corner.
If you don’t feel confident in cutting the corner you can draw a line across using your ruler. This will give you a helpful guide to follow in cutting.
Turn your fabric the right way to create a padded square. To make the corners neat and point you can use the end of your unpicker or something similar to poke the fabric to the point.
Be careful not to puncture a hole in the corner though… I have done this too many times and had to go back and sew the corner again!
Once you have done this you can move onto ironing. Make sure you press firmly with the iron to make the edges sharp and clear to the seam.
Tip: To make the edges super crisp and neat place the fabric between your fingers and roll it, this will push the very edge of the seam to the edge making it neat and straight.
While you are ironing the 3 edges you can turn your open edge inwards 1/4 of an inch to create a folded edge. Do this on both sides so you create something similar to the image below.
Whether you know how to create a smooth edge for your fabric catch-all tray or not this is helpful. I like to do this as it makes it easier to sew together within the next step.
The next step is to sew up the open edge. You can either do this by topstitching over the open edge with the sewing machine or by slip stitching it by hand. I prefer to do this part by hand as it blends in well with the rest of the square.
If you prefer to do it by the machine you can topstitch along the edge to give the fabric extra strength and even make a decorative border from it.
Once the square is a neat and tidy sandwich you can now turn it into a fabric catch-all tray. Depending on your required depth will depend on how much you need to measure. For my 10 by 11 inch square, I chose to create a depth of 2 inch.
You can choose the depth by making your marks smaller as in 1 inch or larger to 3 inches. This will determine how deep your catch-all tray becomes.
I measured from each side 1 inch in and marked with a marking tool, I would use something like chalk that is easy to wipe away as once the fabric catch-all tray is constructed it may be harder to wash or iron.
Once you have measured your points on each edge you simply want to take the 2 sides that create the corner and pinch the points together. Match the points as though they were triangles on a sewing pattern.
If you need a little extra guidance while sewing you can draw a line down to create a line down to the base of the fabric catch-all tray. Use a ruler to make the line so it is straight and in line.
Use a sewing clip to hold them into place or a pin. I find sewing clips easier as they are quicker to move when sewing and easier for my fingers to use.
Once all 4 corners have been clipped into place take them to the sewing machine. The sides pulled up together will create a wall around the edges, making a bowl-like shape. Sew down the line from the top to the bottom.
Sew the lines into place to create the edges. Remember to backstitch the start and end of the stitch, this will make sure it doesn’t unravel and gives it extra strength.
Finish by trimming all threads and getting rid of any leftover fluff.
That is everything on how to make a fabric catch-all tray. If you have any questions or queries on how to adapt your fabric catch-all tray to fit another size or purpose please let a comment below.