When I first started sewing, the dining room table was my cutting table. It was also where I would place my board when it was time to iron. It was also where my sewing machine (and later serger) was. The table was hip height; this meant that I was constantly bending over, making a bad lower back even worse. And whenever we had guests for a meal, I had to break down all my sewing setup.
I spent a lot of time trying to come up with a solution, and it finally came to me when I saw an ad on the Next Door App (for those who don’t know it, this is an app to connect people in a neighborhood, but more often than not it is just a platform for people to complain and argue) for someone selling Ikea trestles. That was the spark that ignited my sewing corner project.
What to Consider
There are three major considerations when planning your sewing area: space, money, and time. Figuring out how much space you have will be the determining factor in how much stuff you can fit in. If you have a lot of time but not a lot of money, DIY projects are great. If you have money but not time, you can look for ready-made solutions. If you have time AND money, well, lucky you!
My Sewing Space
My sewing space is in a corner of the living room. I have been able to fit a cutting table and a long table with my four machines (two sewing machines, one that does not work; my serger; my coverstitch). I have a fancy chair that I bought during lockdown to do double-duty as both a sewing chair and a teacher’s seat. I have two trash cans, one for storing my tracing tools and another for fabric scraps. I store a lot of my sewing notions and supplies on an Ikea rolling cart.
The Cutting Table
My cutting table is an Ikea table top on two Ikea trestles. The trestles I purchased from someone selling them on Next Door. I paid $40 for a pair of white ones. They are no longer available; the only option now is the Mittback for $55 each.
The table top is the Linnmon (length: 39 ⅜”; width: 23 ⅝;” thickness 1 ⅛”), a really cheap piece of wood that comes in three colors: white, gray, and brown-black. It can take a maximum load of 110 pounds—I don’t know how much fabric that is, but that’s a lot. My cutting mat fits perfectly on top of the table.
To maximize space, I bought an Ikea Kingsfors rail for $6.00 and screwed it into the legs of one of the trestles.
I got a pack of small hanging hooks for $0.99 at the 99cent Store, and now all my scissors and rotary cutters are organized and easily accessible under the cutting table.
Total for the cutting table: about $50.00
For the sewing table, I purchased four mid-century modern legs from Amazon for $59.99 (plus tax). The set I purchased is no longer available, but I found a similar set for cheaper! And it comes with four protector feet.
I sanded and stained the wood to a light wood color using a can of MinWax (about $11 for the stain, $5 for the sanding blocks, and $5 for the brushes). I will eventually replace the wood as it is warping under the weight of my machines.
When sanding any piece of wood, do so in a well-ventilated place, and wear a mask. The same is true for finishing—the fumes are not good for your health!
Total for the sewing table (not counting the hand sander): $95.00
For too long I sat on an uncomfortable chair as I sewed. Once the pandemic hit and my living room turned into a classroom, I got an office chair that also became my sewing chair.
If you like armchairs that offer support to your arms, this option is not for you. The arms on this chair are awfully low. The arms are movable, though, so when I sew, I move them up—no annoying arms that don’t support my arms!
I have two trash cans, both from Ikea, one to store my drafting tools (rulers and rolls of paper). I also have a rolling cart, also from Ikea, where I store my sewing notions and TNT patterns. All my patterns are stored in comic book boxes.
Tips to Create Your Own Sewing Space
- If you must make do with your dining or kitchen table, my advice is to have a setup that does not require you to bend forward all the time. That’s a lower back killer! Bed risers can help if you need a small lift.
- Check Next Door, FB Marketplace, Craigslist, or anywhere else where you may find good deals for used furniture.
- Ask family and friends if they have furniture that they may be trying to get rid of.
The Joy of a Dedicated Sewing Space
I dream of the day when I will have a whole room dedicated to sewing. Until then, I am grateful to have a quarter of the living room. I get to watch TV while sewing, and I spend lots of time with my partner and the cat while they lounge in our living room. I’m not complaining!