DIY Sew Roomy March 10 2016

I am blessed with good friends who call my workspace a shop or studio, rather than a basement. My husband and I refinished it several years ago into a Rec Room. Thereafter the ping pong table became a cutting and sewing table and stage for a pop-up photo tent. Our son's colorful puzzle mats were put under foot to avoid fatigue.

For four years, it served most of my sewing activities. Yet as time passes it gets more and more squeaky and wobbly. When my husband offered to make a new one, I jumped for joy ... into Pinterest, saving tips to a board called Sew Roomy.

One surface height for all four quadrants

While many Pins show separate cutting and sewing surfaces, I wanted just one, because under-table shelves bruise my shins, and while the cutting height is too low for some, it gives me more leverage with rotary cutters.

Having the same work height for both activities allows arranging the work areas to reduce steps and streamline work flow around the table. One quadrant is used for cutting and pattern layout. Moving counterclockwise, the next quadrant has a small ironing board. Around the corner are two sewing machines--a Bernina 1130 and Bernina 350 PE--and tabletop thread racks. An armless wheeled chair moves between the two and allows me to whirl around to the CONSEW 277R industrial sewing machine behind me.

The third quadrant has a Baby Lock Imagine serger and an older Bernina Nova 900 sewing machine that shares another wheeled chair. And the fourth quadrant has room for a table-top photo cube that's collapsible when more space is needed for another helper or for cutting big projects. 

Hand tools are organized in a tiered Lazy Susan and cutting guides are placed within reach in the center of the table.

Underneath is storage for plastic bins of fabric, the power strips and cords, the vacuum cleaner, boxes of craft fair displays, bags and tissues paper.

Table design optimized for sewing

My husband designed the new table in two pieces since it's easier to maneuver than one large single table. Each is 4-1/2' x 5' and connected almost seamlessly beneath in the middle.

Each table has four legs made from so-called channel aluminum, which allows peripheral drawers or shelves to be added using the channels much like using track lighting to customize placement. I chose legs placed beneath the corners because tables with center supports often flex at the outer edge.

The table's top is made from 1/2" poplar wood covered with four coats of polyurethane. The outside edges have a bull nose bevel. Access holes in the wood near each machine or appliance allow the electric cords to drop straight down rather than spread over the work space.

On the cutting end of the table, curtain rods are held in the leg's channels and hold rolls of fabric on tubes so I can pull the fabric onto the table.

Surrounded by Fabric

Fabric is stored inside clear 56-qt containers that are stacked on adjustable wire racks from floor to ceiling. The fabric I use comes from garments rediscovered at thrift shops (after dry-cleaned or laundered of course), so the bins are a must. After trying different inventory methods, I finally created my own which uses a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The numbered bins arranged more or less by color so I can see which bin to choose after searching for a particular fabric. So far there are 35 bins. 

The bins line one wall with enough room for an aisle between them and the work tables. A second wall has a dresser that contains ribbons and seam binding. For displaying rolls of ribbons, I found several old oak CD racks that work perfectly. 

On a third wall at the business end of the industrial sewing machine is mounted a slat-wall display that I bought from a store going out of business. It's sturdy enough to hold the large spools of serger thread and heavier 16oz spools used on the CONSEW. Seeing all the thread at a glance save time rather than rifling through a box.

Light up the office space

In another part of the open room is a desk where I can stand or sit. It's a fun little rig designed for kids but Steel Case tough in dots and strips and has interchangeable panels. Found it for a song at a liquidators. 

Finally, there's lights, camera, action. Foldable softlights stand ready nearby to pour light on the subject. I'm in a basement after all. Or as my friends say, a studio.