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Wicker Tray Fabric Covered Inserts

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How to make a wicker tray useable to carry drinks when entertaining while giving the tray a colorful style boost at the same time.  When colorful fabric is added to them, they can even be used to hang as art on your walls.

Post updated: June 16, 2020

I like wicker baskets and trays of all sizes and shapes. I enjoy finding ways to use them to decorate my house and make them useable in ways that they may not have been intended for.

wicker trays and baskets on a table getting ready to be made useable to carry drinks.

At a thrift store recently I came across this lot of baskets and two trays, one with a hole in the middle that I didn’t think would be usable for anything until I remembered the white wicker tray that I used for the little table I made a few weeks ago for my living room. It had a solid wood bottom.

This gave me all the incentive I needed as I knew I could add a solid insert and make the tray usable –so I brought it home along with the other baskets you see in the photo and got to work.

I love using wicker trays – they remind me of the beach, but the uneven weave of the wicker is not the best for carrying drinks – they tip too easily.

Wicker-Trays with blue and white fabric liners inside that will make carrying drinks easier so they won't tip over.
Summer Entertaining Ideas using wicker trays. A round tray with a blue and white liner with two wine glasses filled with Sangria on tray.

A solid bottom insert is needed in the wicker tray for stability. I made an insert for each of the trays using a piece of Dollar Store FomCor, fabric, and Heat N’ Bond Iron-On Vinyl

entertaining ideas for parties using trays. Two trays on outdoor sideboard.

Best of all – now I have a matching set of trays.  I bought the fabric at JoAnn’s Fabrics. It is by Waverly:  pattern Luminary.

How To Make Wicker Tray Fabric Covered Inserts

supplies needed:

  • Rigid cardboard or Fom-Cor from the Dollar Store.
  • Fabric
  • Optional: Heat N’Bond Vinyl – You can find Heat N’ Bond Vinyl at any sewing store. It is sold in packages and by the yard.
  • Compass
  • Pencil
  • Craft knife
  • Clear wide packaging tape
Use-a-compass-to-make-a-circle on Fom-Cor.

1. Measure the bottom of the tray and cut the cardboard or FomCor to size. For a round tray, use a compass set to the diameter of the tray bottom to create the perfect circle.

Round and rectangualr inserts-made-from-Fom Cor placed in two trays.

2. Make sure the inserts fit inside the trays and lay flat. Trim if needed.

Cut-fabric-into-circle-for- making a tray insert.

3.   Lay FomCor inserts on wrong side of fabric and cut around leaving a 2” – 3” of fabric all around. This excess fabric will be used to fold to underside of FomCor.

What you can do with a Wicker tray using Heat N'Bond Vinyl.

4.  Press fabric and then apply Heat N’ Bond Vinyl on right side of fabric.

How to Apply Heat N’Bond Vinyl to Fabric

Heat N’Bond Vinyl is very easy to apply:

  • First, peel the paper backing from the vinyl, lay the sticky side of the vinyl down on the right side of fabric.
  • Next, lay the shiny side of the paper backing on top of the vinyl (the paper backing acts as a pressing cloth between the vinyl and iron)
  • Then press to adhere.
  • Remove the paper backing.
  • Let it cool.

Now your fabric is vinyl-ized and protected. It can be wiped clean with a wet cloth.

How to Attach Vinyl-ized Fabric to Circular Insert

How to wrap fabric around a Fom-Cor insert.

1.  Lay the fused fabric right side down and center the FomCor insert on top.  Cut the corners off of the fabric when working with a circular insert as you do not need the excess at the corners.

2. Create a round shape around the insert, but leave enough to wrap around to the back side. You don’t want to add too much fabric bulk when you bring the fabric to the back of the insert.

3. Bring the fabric around the edge to the back side of the FomCor and using your fingers pleat the fabric so it neatly follows the circular shape.

4. Use tape to hold the pleats into place while you are working on it.

5. Once you have the fabric attached – use tape to secure. 

How to Attach Vinyl-ized Fabric to Rectangular Insert

To cover a square or rectangular shape is much easier. Wrap the fabric around the FomCor as if you were wrapping a gift. Use clear packaging tape to attach. 

IMPORTANT TIP: When covering either shape, make sure to keep the pleats and corners as flat as possible.

entertaining ideas for parties DIY decorative wicker tray with two glasses filled with Sangria.

Turn the fabric covered FomCor over and insert into your tray.

Now you can safely carry glasses on a wicker tray. If the fabric gets dirty, it can be easily wiped clean.

Other Decorative Ideas Using Heat N’ Bond

You can see that the Heat N’Bond doesn’t change the fabric, it just protects it.

Heat N’ Bond Vinyl is one of my favorite products. It comes in shiny and matte finishes. See others decorative ways I use it:

Wicker tray before and after getting a blue and white fabric insert to help it not only look more colorful, but also to keep drinks from tipping over. Text overlay says Transform Thrift Store Trays in colorful style.

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  1. Diane! You have opened up a world of possibilities for us all! The fact alone that you scored all those pieces for little more than $3 is spectacular in and of itself and then turned them into useful everyday items — what can I say! Who knew about heat and bond vinyl! This has inspired me to look around at what I have already and see what I can transform. Fabulous post!

    1. Hi Heather-
      Just visited your post. The plexi works great. It really turned out well. It is a nice big tray -perfect on an ottoman. Thanks for sharing it with me. I am going to put it up on my DIY page tomorrow.

  2. Oh what a fantastic idea! I’ve never heard of heat ‘n bond vinyl, but this might just open up a whole new world for me! Thank you SO much for your sweet comment on my blog and I’m happy I was able to bring a smile to your face! I was planning on just hopping over here quick to say thank you, but your posts just draw me in and blow me away!

  3. Neat idea…thanks for sharing. They look so pretty. Thanks also for coming by my blog and leaving such a nice post.

  4. Where do you come up with all these smart ideas? (and, perhaps even more intriguing, where do you find the time for all of this?!)
    I love the colors in your home :)

  5. Oh, I love this idea! I know we all have these trays and your inserts are the perfect solution! Love the fabric you chose too. Great job.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  6. Stumbled here while looking for craft room islands online. What a lovely site and so many wonderful projects. Everything is a pleasure to browse.

    I’ve bookmarked you so I’ll definitely pop by again.

  7. I’m going to have to try this as well. I recently bought a round wicker tray from HomeGoods and I’ve debating about what to do with it and this would be perfect!

    1. Hi Holly-
      The fun thing about the inset is that you can totally change the look of the tray 123… It can go from glam one day depending on the fabric you choose to casual the next.

    1. Hi Erin-

      If you do make one it won’t be on your list for long as it is a quickie project. Getting the ironing board out to adhere the fuse took the most time. The circle took a few more minutes than the rectangular basket because of the pleating needed to attach the fabric. You will be done in no time.

  8. The inserts for the wicker baskets look great and make them more useful. Great idea!

    Be sure to stop by to enter my giveaway. The winner will be drawn on July 6.

  9. What a pretty, practical project! Even I could do it…just wouldn’t have thought of it!

    1. Hi Haven-

      Thanks – I love finding easy ways to update stuff or in this case find an easy fix so I could carry glasses safely on the wicker trays.

  10. Diane, love the trays and they look great with the inserts. Great fabric. I have never done that before, but may have to give it a try. Thanks for the tutorial.