Sunday, April 10, 2011

My Sewing Table

Hi all!  I was so inspired after reading Marguerita's book, Sew and Quilt in Comfort,  again yesterday that I wanted to make some changes to my sewing set-up. I thought that I might share with you what we did yesterday; but, first I need to give you a little bit of the back-story on my sewing machine table.  When I first started quilting we were newly married and had a new born baby.  I loved to quilt and was sewing on the dining room table - sound familiar?  Since sending my quilts out to be machine quilted at that time simply wasn't a financial option I had to learn to quilt them myself.  Well if any of you machine quilt on a table-top you know how hard this can be without a good set-up.

I went into a quilt store and looked at the Horn of America cabinets - they were beautiful and wonderful and very pretty - but also very expensive to this newly wed new Mom!  Spending $1500 just wasn't feasible so my husband built me a very basic copy of the cabinet that I loved so that my sewing machine could be sunk down level with the bed.  This made quilting easier but I still need support on the left hand side for the bulk of the quilt.  I used my ironing board lowered down to support the bulk.  Now an ironing board is NOT very stable so I would frequently knock it over.  So the second incarnation of my sewing table was born - we took the main top off and added permanent support for the left side.

Then I got a new machine!!  An embroidery machine!!  Well the embroidery machine needed to be able to be level with the sewing table and on top of the sewing table easily so I purchased the Touch Release Air Lift from Horn of America and the Plexiglas insert that fit my machine.  Most people don't know that you can purchase this on its own - but you can!  We installed the lift onto my custom sewing table and I was extremely happy!

Then I got another machine with a large harp for machine quilting.  It came with a large extension table and I quilted with it table-top for a couple years - not ideal but doable.  After reading Marguerita's book through I realized that I was not doing myself any favours and I enlisted my husband to make more changes to my table.

First we decided where I wanted the sewing machine sunk - and I took Marguerita's advice and pushed it back several inches.

Then we cut a big hole in the table to fit the machine.

Then we adjusted the hole until the machine could go in it.  This took some time LOL!  After the hole was cut my husband added a shelf under the table so that the sewing machine wouldn't fall through the hole to the floor!  And so that the bed of the sewing machine would be level with the table top.

Yey!  A level quilting machine!

Here's a view of the table showing both my machines - I have shared space between them so I am not wasting.  When I want to use my larger machine to machine quilt I use the air lift on my other machine to sink it down, so it sits under the cabinet, so that I have extended space.

Here is the large extension table that came with my machine.  It works well but the machine is elevated just shy of 3.5" with it on!  Not very ergonomic.   You can also see how I have left hand support for both of my sewing machines as well.  This is a must-have for me.

This is the removable left hand support that we made for my quilting machine - I can't have it as a permanent fixture because it is in a very busy area of the house and people would bang into it.   It just slides off and folds up to store so that I can put it away when I am not machine quilting.

Here's the wooden shelf that now holds my machine.  Nothing fancy but it works!  I can now use my knee lift again since my machine is lower.   I can slide my hand in on the left to change my bobbins.

One last thing.  I used Marguerita's advise, again, and used clear vinyl over the bed and part of my table so that the surface is completely smooth and slippery.  The area of the table right around the sewing machine was a little rough so this really helps to smooth it out.

So what do you think?  It's not ready for a magazine photo shoot but it works for me and I love it!  Although I love the Horn of America cabinets I wouldn't trade this one for the world since this one perfectly fits me and what I want.  Besides - this cabinet has taken approximately 11 years to build so far!  Who knows what we're going to do to it next ;-)

What do you think?  If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them here!  I love to hear from you.


Cassy said...

This is fabulous. Can I borrow your handyman? Mine gets expensive (doctor visits, etc.) when he gets near tools. :)

Impera Magna said...

What a great set-up! I watched the videos you posted yesterday and am considering trying the foam insulation to make the top level with the sewing surface of my machine... Thanks for sharing!

Renegade Quilter said...

What a great idea!!!! I might have to give it a try. Thanks for sharing.

Marguerita McManus said...

Katrina, I just love it! If I didn't move so much and change machines so often, I'd have a cabinet like yours (I did have one and left it behind in one of my moves). Your sweet DH did a great job and it's super that your cabinet lets you use your knee lift! One last thing - is the cabinet at the right height for you? I am guessing that it's pretty close or you'd have noticed some strain in your shoulders and neck.
Thank you for a lovely post and for sharing your great adaptations!

Cheryl said...

Nice job, looks great! I did the same thing about a year ago, I just love it. What a difference it makes. I too am limited on space so the table I have folds up and is on wheels so I can fold it up and roll it out of the way when I am done sewing. Here is a link to my table.

Anonymous said...

Great job with the table! I did make a custom table once, but then I couldn't use the machine to sew the bags I was working on, because I couldn't remove the free it didn't last. =OP I guess if I were only sewing quilts it would be different. =)

Scrappy quilter said...

It's absolutely perfect!!

Gene Black said...

Excellent. I wish I were handy with tools so I could make my own table.

Lynn W. said...

I think you and your husband work very well together. Now we'll get an update after you've used the new setup with both machines? Thanks so much for sharing your modifications.