Upgrading my sewing space

After redecorating my sewing-space-slash-home-office over the summer, I really wanted to upgrade my makeshift cutting table and improve the storage.

Cutting table hack

The shelves have room for patterns, fabrics and notions, and I can store rolls of paper just under the tabletop.

For the last few years I’ve been cutting on an old IKEA desktop, perched on two trestles. And although it was the perfect height I couldn’t pull it out from the wall without help, so I was putting off cutting out and sewing less than I wanted to.

When I pondered what my ideal cutting table would look like (being realistic, sigh), I came up with:

  • 75cm wide to take a folded piece of 150cm fabric, and over a metre long
  • Comfortable to stand at – and I’m tall, so for me this higher than a standard 90cm kitchen worktop
  • On wheels, so I can move it out to access it from all sides by myself
  • Equipped with storage space underneath for fabrics, patterns and notions
  • Cheap!

I rummaged around online to see what amazing creations other sewists have come up with, and was inspired by this IKEA hack from Andy, which looked achievable. My old tabletop was scratched, but the right size and otherwise serviceable, so I decided to re-use it.

I enlisted my husband to help me – since he shares the office space with me – and this is what we came up with.

  • First, we assembled 2 IKEA Flysta units (similar to Kallax, which is no longer available in the UK)
  • Then we screwed four IKEA RILL castors into some short cut lengths of pine wood, and screwed those into the underside of the Flysta units. The wood added more height, and also acts as a brace to hold the two units together.
  • Next we took some more short lengths of pine standing on their edges, made rudimentary L-shapes from them by screwing them together in pairs. We attached these to the top of the shelving units using right-angled brackets. This adds more height, and also creates a rectangular storage area under the table top with a gap in each side. I use this for storing long rolls of pattern paper, a long ruler, and block patterns on manila cardstock. It also stores the household’s stock of drawing paper and wrapping paper, too.
  • Finally, we attached the old tabletop on top of these using more screws through right-angled brackets.

Objects don’t stay in pristine condition for long in our house, so I’m really pleased to have something sturdy but inexpensive, and to know that it won’t matter if it collects a few more scratches and dinks over the coming years.

If you’d like to have a go at something similar, I can recommend it as a fun project that won’t take all weekend. Now I just need to organise my fabric stash into all those cubbyholes.

DIY Pegboard

After the success of the cutting table, we got carried away and decided to try our hands at something else too. This is not a project you can wrap up in a few hours…

After admiring so many sewing space pegboards on Pinterest, I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted online, and Mr Wardrobe talked me into making one ourselves. We ordered a sheet of plywood in the right size from Wickes, and several lengths of 6mm dowels, and set about drawing a 1″ grid for the holes.

This is where we made a silly mistake. I have a maths degree for goodness’ sake, and yet even I didn’t think to tot up how many holes we’d marked before we started drilling. When I did, after about the first 20 or so, the total came to 1,081. Over. A. Thousand. Holes.

Still, Mr Wardrobe and I are both pretty stubborn, and the thought of getting a custom-made pegboard for under £30 was enough to drive us on to the end. And after two weeks of drilling for 30 minutes a day, some light sanding and a coat of beeswax polish, I finally have my dream pegboard!

I’ve positioned it on the wall directly above the cutting table, and I’m really happy with the new layout overall. I still have to share the space with our home office, but it’s much easier to start sewing, and to keep clutter under control. Plus there’s now even room on the built-in shelves for Mr W to put some of his stuff!

Have you re-thought your sewing space as a result of spending more time at home more this year? I’d love to know what changes you’ve made and how it’s working for you now.

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