(We’re going through dark days in America, and I intend my sewing posts to be only a temporary distraction before we return to the ugliness. Because, come back we must, to actually deal with blatant racism and cruelty. Bad things do not go away on their own).
This fabric tray or basket is a vision in simplicity and ingenuity combined. It isn’t a new thing; it is a decades old design that I sort of rediscovered when a central place for clean masks was needed by the door. I grab one along with the keys when headed out for a rare (but necessary) outing. After each use, the masks are thrown in the laundry. Such is life in 2020.
So here is the process of making a mask basket or mask tray.
½ yard or less quilting cotton; or you can get fancy and use silk brocade. If your basket is smaller you can use less. Two different fabrics will work beautifully – one for each layer. Plus, there’s a separate pocket on the bottom later for the cardboard insert.
½ yard or less fusible fleece. You can piece together smaller scraps.
Roll of pre-made ½” wide double fold bias-binding, or you can make your own.
A piece of 8×11 inch soft cardboard to insert on the bottom layer – this is what determined the size of the basket/tray. You can use plastic canvas if you want or anything to give the tray base some stiffness. My cardboard was found in the “seemingly-useless-sewing-stuff” array.
Thread, sewing machine and accoutrements.
Cut these pieces of fabric: The dimensions are based on the basket size I selected. You can totally go your own way with the size.
Cotton fabric: 2 pieces, 16 x 13.5 each
Cotton fabric: 1 piece, 9.5×12 (for pocket)
Fusible fleece: 8.5×11
Double fold ½ inch bias binding: 1 yard (you’ll be snipping off some extra).
Mark the fabric: Place the 8.5×11 piece of cardboard in the center of one fabric layer and trace the outline with a Frixion-like disappearing pen. Repeat on the other layer. There should be a 2.5 inch “border” around the marked off area. These “borders” will eventually stand up and form sides of the basket/tray.
- Fuse the 8.5×11 fusible fleece to wrong side of one fabric layer inside the marked off area. Not pictured: fuse pieces of fusible fleece to the “borders”. Why didn’t I fuse the whole thing with one piece of fleece? Great question, but the answer is – I wanted to leave a smidgen of plain fabric all the around the center rectangle; it makes the sides stand up easily. But that’s just my way of doing it. Designate this as the top layer.
- Fold and press ½ inch all around the pocket piece so that it’s the size of the cardboard insert. You will then trim the cardboard about 1/8” from each side to make it a smidgen smaller. It needs to be smaller to actually slide into the pocket.
- Sew a hem on just one smaller edge of the pocket piece. Sew down pocket on the right side of the lower basket/tray (unfused piece) fitting it inside the marked line; sew on three sides, leaving the hemmed side open. Sew as close to the edge as possible.
- Place the layers together, evenly. Pin. Sew both layers together, stitching around the center rectangle. You now have the base of the tray.
- “True” the outside edge: the fusing and that one seam will have made your nicely cut edges all uneven. You will now use your handy ruler and marking pen to measure around the perimeter of the tray — 2 inches or less from the stitching to the outside edge. Cut away the extra to get a nice and even tray piece.
- Apply double fold bias binding to the edges, mitering at the corners; or just sew to the end, snip off, and start the next edge.
- Apply small pieces of Velcro where indicated in this picture so that the corners will pull up and create a “wall” for the basket/tray. Whew! It took as long to write, photograph, format and edit this post as it did sewing the “masket”.
- Storing the basket: Open up the velcro-ed corners and store flat, or remove the cardboard insert and roll up to stash it. Remember to remove the cardboard to launder.
Be safe friends, and be mindful of your thoughts and deeds toward all humans. Oh, and vote.