My own journey to a Happy Cutting Table took place this past year. After a job change that added a lot more sewing time to my life, I spent several months re-working my sewing studio room. One of my constant past frustrations was the table that served as both sewing table and cutting table. I was frequently moving the machines to the floor so I could cut, then setting them back up so I could sew. And, repeat. Not a dance I enjoyed!
As I spent time thinking about the ideal solution to my dilemma, I heard from a friend who was looking for a new home for her sewing cabinet. Mine, mine, mine, I responded with glee! Now I was free to transform my former multi-purpose table into a permanent cutting table. And, since the table had always been too low for cutting, my back was thrilled!
My ideal cutting table needed to be about waist height, have plenty of storage available under it and space for my essential cutting supplies nearby. I already had a fabulous six drawer “handed down from daughter” IKEA dresser to use under the table, so the under storage part was easy. My biggest challenge was how to raise the table top to the right height for my cutting comfort since the dresser was about 7″ too low. A lot of ideas floated through my head, my hubby made a few suggestions, but nothing really fit until I walked into the storage section of Target one day. There on the shelf I found very sturdy, 7″ tall, single plastic drawers that were about the same depth as my dresser. I only got a few odd glances as I did a happy dance right there in the aisle. I purchased six of the drawers, spread them out across the dresser, removed the legs from my table and set the top right on the plastic drawers. So, my perfect cutting table is actually a sandwich of sorts – dresser, plastic drawers, table top, and it is absolutely perfect. I even have more storage than I had hoped for!
My cutting mat is 36” x 59” and about 8” shorter in length than my table top. Back at Target, I found a very inexpensive, sturdy enough shelving unit that is 7” deep and just the right height from the table top to the ceiling. Dear, dear Hubby put the shelf together for me and it holds neatly labeled, lovely boxes and tins full of everything I might need while I’m cutting and planning. Marking, measuring, cutting and pinning tools each have their own box. I also have space for a small decorative crate of the patterns I am using and plan to use in the near future along with my fitting and pattern drafting books.
Other boxes and drawers hold items that are used while I’m planning a project. Embellishments, buttons, zippers, assorted closures, interfacing, fusibles and elastic are all at the ready. Rulers hang from Command hooks on the side of the table top shelves ready to use right above my little Coats and Clark Corner. A very important part of my sewing inspiration! And, lest you think I am always super organized, during my studio re-working, I filled three of the largest drawers with Works in Progress I found. Yes, I over plan, too!
The light of my sewing life is centered over my cutting table at just the right height for illuminating the whole surface. I found the lamp shade and socket at IKEA, Hubby and I made a few modifications and I can actually see what I’m cutting now! As you can see, the Flying Sheep of Happiness hangs ready for me to easily pull the chain that turns my light on and off. Brilliance is a very good thing over a cutting table!
To inspire you further, I found a marvelous blog post about creating a Happy Cutting Table on the Fabric Mutt blog after I created my own happy table. Heidi lists a well-thought out, nine step plan for making your cutting life comfortable and easy to do. She goes over all the major points you’ll want to think through and offers great solutions for your cutting table woes. You may not have a whole room like I’ve been blessed with, but no matter where you sew, you’ll benefit from Heidi’s tips and suggestions. Click here for her 9 Steps to a Happy Cutting Table post. Heidi has written loads of sewing tutorials for her blog and a book on finding time to sew, so she know what she’s talking about.
About the Author
Annette Millard began sewing at the age of three, made her first dress at ten and is always happiest with needle, fabric and thread in her hands. Annette feels very privileged to have spent most of her work life in the sewing industry and loves teaching, making her own handmade wardrobe and writing about sewing. She spent over ten years as the newsletter and web site content writer for the Pacific Northwest's largest locally-owned family of fabric stores and is now thrilled to have the opportunity to share her passion for sewing with the Sewing Secrets community.