Sewing Table Makeover: Assessing the Problem

Recently, I was so stressed out trying to machine quilt on my domestic machine that I got hives! I needed to quilt a 40” square quilt for my work at Connecting Threads. As usual, I didn’t have the time or money to have it quilted professionally. Considering my machine quilting challenges, sewing machine setup, and limited budget, the best option seemed to be a sewing table makeover. It was definitely time for some DIY creativity!

Since it is important to evaluate what works well in a space before redesigning it, let me give you a quick tour of my sewing room to show you what I do like. My sewing space is located in the bonus room of our house. At one end are two 2’ x 6′ solid wood folding tables elevated on bed risers to hide fabric bins and to raise the height for comfortable ironing. They are covered with two white cloth tablecloths I bought, slightly damaged, from a party supply store. On top is a large piece of clear vinyl. The light over my sewing machine is a full-spectrum lamp that doesn’t give off heat and can easily swivel from my machine to ironing board as I need it.

I love my oversized ironing board! It is definitely a worthwhile investment (or you can make your own). In the far left corner is a cutting table I have had for years. My Omnigrip rulersOlfa rotary cutters and Omnigrid cutting mat are always handy.


My design wall, also a DIY project, consists of a queen-size piece of batting secured to the wall at the top with hook & loop tape. On the bottom, the batting is attached to a large wooden curtain rod with more hook & loop tape. The design wall can be rolled up on the rod and hung from nails near the ceiling if I need to get it out of the way.

To the right of the tables are two back-to-back cabinets for storing fabric. I love them! They are the perfect depth for stacks of yardage folded around 6” rulers (every three folds is ½ yard). The drawers hold folded FQs. I covered sheets of foam core board with batting and adhered them the cabinet doors for additional design wall space. The cabinet shown holds fabrics grouped for quilts.The other cabinet holds my “color wall”.

Yes, I have a lot of fabric! There is more in both closets, and under the tables, as a result of 23 years of quilting and ongoing (addictive?) fabric aquisition. Logic states I would have more money for a new sewing table or professional machine quilting if I bought less fabric…What a silly thought!

Okay, back to my problem. Since my machine sits on the table, I use an acrylic table for more sewing surface and can utilize the workspace on top and under the table. This setup works great for piecing, but for machine quilting, the table can interfere with my ability to move the quilt easily if it gets caught on the edges.

I also struggle because the machine is too close to the left edge of the table. The quilt falls off instead of being supported by the table for easier maneuverability. In the past, machine quilting seemed easier when my machine lowered into a cabinet (now sold) flush to the surface.

Tomorrow I will blog about my DIY solution!



  1. Stephanie - October 9, 2012

    Looking forward to “the rest of the story.” Your fabric is like art. Pretty and very neat too. I desire a BIG ironing board.

  2. Stephanie P. - October 9, 2012

    My handyman found a remnant of kitchen laminate countertop ($15) and cut a hole for my sewing machine so that it’s flush with the countertop. He built a ledge to hold the machine. He saved the piece that was cut out so that I can put it back in if I need to use the free arm. Then he attached legs taken from an old table.

  3. Ann - October 9, 2012

    Thank you for your replies. Yes, I do love my over-sized ironing board! I can easily iron half a yard of fabric or a yard folded. It’s terrific additional workspace. I prefer mine on a sturdy table but an ironing board works well also.
    I enjoy hearing DIY solutions from others. It is fun to hear what can be done on a limited budget with some imagination and effort. I hope others will share their favorite ideas and solutions for quilting spaces.

  4. Julie S - October 9, 2012

    My hubby had round hole spade bits and put holes in the table so the legs of my extention table fit down in the table (so your machine fits in nicely around the throat plate). Then cut out one end to drop your machine down to the right height!!! Worked slick and no trying to cut out by the throat plate.

  5. Linda - October 11, 2012

    What about 1. moving the sewing machine to the right.
    2. put a height-adjustable regular ironing board to the left and/or parallel to the table on the left of your chair to hold the weight of the quilt. I cover my ironing board with plastic to make the quilt slip across it more easily.