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advice on sewing cabinet

novice50 | Posted in General Sewing Info on

I’m interested in a sewing cabinet. I have been looking at them online for some time. I am not a quilter. I don’t know which is the better-Horn or Koala. Or are there less expensive ones out there that are just as good. Also, can you buy online. I am nowhere near a store that carries these. Thanks to all.


  1. Ra | | #1

    The sewing cabinets are terribly expensive.  I got a hugh L shaped glass desk at Staples a couple years ago for $60 - holds both sewing machine and serger, and I put a plug in florescent light on the key board tray, so the desk also works as a light table.

    Also at Staples for aboaut $20 I got a "mini chest" on wheels with 7 plastic drawers of a couple sizes.  Most of my notions, interfacings, etc. fit in there and the drawers pull all the way out -- I have all my cutting out and marking stuff in one drawer and carry it to the living room where I cut out.

    Target has little 9" cubes w/drawers.  I keep one by the machine w/machine feet, needles, bobbins, etc.

    There are several books out on sewing spaces with all kinds of ideas, high end and inexpensive, for sewing tables.

    Hope this helps.

  2. ValerieJ | | #2

    I bought a "sewing cabinet" from an unfinished furniture store. It has a central pedestal with drawers, and two sides that fold down. I have the serger on one side and the sewing machine on the other.

    I applied a stain and then a lot of coats of polyurethane. On the top, which is the work surface, I applied four coats of poly. It's held up very well over the years. If you're willing to spend some time on the finishing, unfinished furniture can work well for you.


    1. User avater
      matzahari | | #3

      someof the "name" cabinets are all made by the same company. check out roberts. it has exactly the featires of koala and horn and sells  for less money. still not cheap but you dont have to mortgage your house.

  3. ctirish | | #4

    I bought one of the Koala or Horn( I am not sure which one) cabinets. It has a table like surface that pulls up behind the machine area; I have never used it. The main part of the cabinet where the sewing machine is opens to a nice size and it has a space on the right side underneath to store the Serger. The table you can put together to hold the serger is too low and the cabinet itself does not have much storage. Sometimes I wonder "what was I thinking"  when I bought this cabinet and yes it was very expensive. It is so long I can't open the machine and open the door to the room or the closet at the same time.   If  I had the chance to do it over again - I would want a table with room for both machines to be out at the same time - at the same height.  Then I would just get plastic covers for the machines.  The other thing is storage for all the notions, I would get a cart I could wheel around the room. Storage for fabric is a whole other story - I would like a cabinet, but I have 14  large tubs filled to the brim with all kinds of fabric in my bedroom - they don't fit in my sewing room.  

    I just ordered the cart I described - it is from Nancy's Notions; it is a cart that has 10 drawers in it.  Two of each color and each drawer is 3" deep.  I  ordered two carts and I hope they will hold everything I have spread over 3 carts and some shoebox size containers.

    Think about the size of the room and plot it out on graph paper so you can see the room you will have left.  Enough room for the machine, ironing board, cutting table, storage etc.

  4. Teaf5 | | #5

    The best sewing cabinets are the ones with old machines in them; in our area, old sewing machines are available at thrift stores and yard sales for less that $50 and can usually be modified by a handyperson to fit almost any machine.

    A more recent, commercial cabinet that my sister gave me is much more flimsy and hops about whenever the machine is zipping along--very annoying!  Like the other posters, I'm seriously considering replacing it with a sturdy table of the right height; then I won't have to deal with the annoying side legs, the machine hop, or the decorative panel that cuts into my thighs!

    1. ctirish | | #6

      You are so right, when I gave my Singer to an aspiring sewer  I gave her the cabinet - it was a beautiful - all wood pecan cabinet. It never occured to me a handyman could have refitted it for my new machine..  we live and learn... jane

      1. costumemom | | #7

        I sew waterski costumes with Lycra.  I purchased a "slightly damaged" counter top at Lowe's and bolted the 12ft. counter to 3 file cabinets.  walla!  Room for 3 machines AND patterns.  It's kind of an assembly line for the costume committee.  Although the set up is in my basement with no windows and no clock.  They complain that I'm working them too hard.

        PS.  use an old BIG ping pong table to cut out fabric.

        I'm new to this post site and have loved what I've read so far.  Thank you!

      2. kayrosie | | #15

        I have two sewing machine tables that  the sewing machines are no longer in. I put one one way and the other one the other way and I have a great table for sewing. I can store (STUFF) under them.  Great.  It works for me until I can think of something better.  YOu don't have to spend $$$ on a work space. Whatever works for you.


  5. meg | | #8

    I am in agreement with the other posts - the ready-made cabinets are Very Expensive.  The other aspect which I find about them is that theyusually do not have the sewing machine placed in the correctly.  What I mean is that the hole for the machine is situated so that the machine is centered, and what we sewists need is for the needle to be centered.

    Sewing on a machine which is centered to the knee-hole makes us lean to the left in order to sew.  This is not good for our posture.  A custom made cabinet will serve better; and need not cost a fortune.

    1. Teaf5 | | #9

      Hear, hear!  I wish all cabinet makers could hear your suggestion about mounting the machine so that the needle is centered!  I got so tired of pressing my left leg against the left side of the cabinet that I grabbed a saber saw and cut the front panel out to a minimal framework--without taking the cabinet out to the garage.  I spent the next two hours vacuuming wood dust from the white carpet in the guest/sewing room, but my leg and both knees are still grateful!

      1. User avater
        blondie2sew | | #10

        Oh my gosh I am loving this discussion, I too want a sewing space and I too have looked at all those sewing cabinets and those prices for pressboard. I am loving all the ideas in these posts. I am hoping to hear more from everyone. I wish I could contribute a suggestion however I am one in need of this too!! Thank you Thank you all for all this great insight. I have a sewing machine and serger and I want it in an L type fashion with a lot of room for fabric to move through. I do have also a old cabinet with an old Singer my mom gave to me and I am thinking hmmm I may just get that revamped for my Pfaff 1475. Any ideas where to start looking for someone. I live in Washington State. Could I even maybe add on to that cabinet to make more surface space. I am hoping all you will bring me more ideas on this!! You guys rock
        I am also new to this discussion as well as new to the Threads gatherings. I am loving itThanks all
        Happy Sewing

        Edited 10/7/2006 1:45 am ET by blondie2sew

        1. ctirish | | #11

          Ok, I have been trying to sew all week and it has been one of those weeks. Cabinets, that was the latest problem.  My beautiful expensive Koala cabinet... I had my cabinet opened up and that means I have to squeeze by the end piece that I hook on to hole the serger. So, last night I go up to ball point pins for a knit I am cutting out. I go to move the piece holding the serger and it almost falls to the floor.  Not only did the flat piece holding the serger come apart but the piece of wood that the flat piece hooks on pulls off the door of the cabinet - screws and all.   I couldn't believe it, now I have to glue the wood back on the door and let it dry before I can use it for my serger again.

          1. User avater
            blondie2sew | | #12

            My heart sunk for you darlin!! I am so sorry. As I was reading your post my mouth dropped when I read your accounts!! Have you had that cabinet long? I didn't even really check warranties when I was looking I just couldn't get over the price!! I am really at a loss of words seriously Tell your man you need a hug!! (I hope I didn't offend you I don't even know if you have a man).Ok guess what Today Starts a new week!! Big smiles to you

  6. nisee | | #13

    Great discussion on cabinets. I have a Horn about 8 or 9yrs old.  That serger extension is useless. I took it apart and built a wall attached extension table that is the right height and stable.  I did add a larger clear plastic "bed" to my bernina found in Clotilde's catalogue.  It provides a better surface for clothes sewing and things do not hang off or drag off the sewing table.  My Horn has the back extended table but I have not used it in years, no room.  I think the suggestions of office furniture and alternative items are great.  I bought base cabinets for garage orginizaton 24"/36" high and topped with a padded fiber board for ironing, pining and storage.  The cabinets are really deap and sturdy.  Thanks for the tips on other storage caddies.

  7. fabricholic | | #14

    I use my old kitchen table. It has fold out leafs on the ends. I have my sewing machine in the middle and have turned my serger, so that it fits on the end. The other end I have folded out for more room for the fabric I am sewing. I bought a cabinet of 4 drawers and an open space above the top drawer from Lowe's. I had to add a piece of plywood on the back, because it was supposed to be wall mounted for a closet and it wobbled. My husband nailed the plywood on the back to sturdy it and painted it white to match. It sits next to my chair on the left, because I am left handed. I just hop back and forth from sewing machine to serger. I have two chairs with no casters on the bottom.


  8. lilah | | #16

    For less than the price of a Koala or Horn, you could have a custom cabinet built out of real wood.  My DH built my cabinet and at first I wanted the lift and everything, but then I realized that I would be leaving the sewing machine up 98% of the time because I have seperate cutting/worktable.  It has an extension to the left of the machine bed, on the front of the cabinet.  The machine bed extends about 18" to the left of the machine to give a large work surface and hold a cabinet with drawers. The extension is as long as the cabinet is tall and when it is raised it is next to my left arm and the cabinet with drawers that slides out to support it.  That is used for ironing or for supporting long lengths of fabric while sewing.   Behind the machine is another extension that is as wide as the machine bed and as long as the cabinet is tall.  A gate-leg swings out to support it.  The needle is centered in the knee-hole area for maximum comfort.  This is where to start when designing the table.  I'm using it already, but it's not finished.  I'm going to put a slick surface on the top.  The cabinet cost was the plywood, the hardware (drawer pulls, locking casters, hinges), and the finishing (paint/stain)  The lift would have cost about $200 more, and I didn't really need it.  We used piano hinges.  Overall, we spent about $200 for materials.  Of course, labor is the other cost.  Someone who builds cabinets might be willing to do a job like this.  You could take photos of the cabinets you like and tell him what elements you want. 

    1. BeckyLouMay | | #17

      Hi Everyone,

      I have just had my first peek at the discussions here. A little overwhelmed with all the info! However I felt I could contribute on this one. My husband and I converted our master bedroom (we moved into a smaller one, I've got a great hubby who indulges me in my passion) into my sewing room this past January. We took a desk (purchased at Stapes, 10 years ago)  that is an "L" Shape and faced it out into the room. So I can just swievel from my sewing machine to serger when I am working. For a cutting table my husband scrounged through his scraps and bolted together two old jewelry display cases he had picked up 5 years ago in his travels. I painted them and he put a large sheet of pressboard with the finished side on top and then added baseboards around the edges. He added shelving on the insides for my supplies and on one end I've put my large cutting mat.  It is just a great and comfortable room with minimal outlay. Just recycling!!!  So now I'll hit post and see if I've figured this out!!


      1. ctirish | | #18

        Becky, your husband sounds wonderful, does he have a brother?  LOL  jane

        1. SewinMari | | #19

          I have my mother's sewing machine cabinet.  It has three drawers which have held different notion collections at different times.  Thread now lives in the top two drawers of a seven drawer unfinished lingery chest that holds an assortment of other notion collections - zippers, knitting needles, beads, etc.  It amazes me that the new expensive cabinet designers are so out of touch with the needs of their users!  The serger is probably the least expensive machine you have, but  demands the most stability.  If you had a third or fourth machine, like a embroidery or a hemming machine, what would you do? 

          I am planning a re-do of my sewing room.  So far, I like the Lowe's counter on top of filing cabinets idea.  That seems very stable.  You know, Lowe's has table legs that you could screw into the table top.  I haven't tried it, but that is my plan (now).  Clear storage boxes and drawers could roll in and out. 

          I use my kitchen island (36" high) for scissor cutting.  Perfect for your back.  I use an adjacent bathroom's long counter for my cutting mat and rotary cutter if I know I have more than enough fabric and the layout isn't as crucial.  Careful layout should  be done on a dining table.  A very large cutting mat is very wise investment.  I have a big cardboard folding layout thingy, which unfolds to 48" x 60".  It is very helpful to protect your table or extend the surface area of your kitchen island.  (don't rotary cut on it).  I would like to have a fold up cutting mat.

          1. User avater
            Becky-book | | #22

            Table legs that screw into your table top....  my experience with these type legs is not favorable.  They are not sturdy, tend to work themselves loose and wobble a lot! But if they are the only option open to you they might be better than nothing.


          2. jayseyway | | #23

            Thank you all for your comments on cabinets.  I really, really wanted one but here in the UK they seem to have taken the  price and just changed the dollar sign to a pound sign (rather than converting the currency).  This makes an expensive item a silly price.    Now that I have read all your comments I will just go to an office supply store and save myself a fortune.  Thanks again for your stories.

      2. user-217677 | | #20

        Hi, I am new here, too.

        I just wanted to comment on sewing space.  Our master bedroom is huge, so I was able to use a corner for my sewing.  I got some particle board from Home Depot, adjustable height legs from IKEA and an office chair on wheels from a second hand store.  For the cutting table (about 60" by 30") first I covered it with a layer of batting and tight weave wool, using a staple gun.  (My husband and)  I hung brackets on the wall to give a height of about 36".  It is supported by two adjustable-hight legs and the brakcets on the wall.

        My sewing table is pretty small - also particle board covered with fabric.  I have a file cabinet sized unit with metal drawers and 2 adjustable-height legs.  I can iron right on the cutting table, which is handy, but I can't use a rotary cutter.

        I like it becuase I work with slippery fabric and it is very easy to manage on a fabric covered surface.  (reminds me of a pool table).

        I love my sewing area because it is so convenient and my husband can hang around and watch tv or read.

        If I were sequestered away in the basement, I don't think I would use it as much as I do.

        This board is really great!

        1. ixs | | #21

          As I get older, I find good quality lighting is very important.  Please factor that into your sewing area; I think Ott lights and halogen lamps are wonderful, as they can swivel; I also bought a weighted base so I don't have to clamp the desk lights.

          My best buy was metal pattern cabinets for storage when an independent fabric store went out of business.  My husband bolted shelving material to the wall and the cabinet side; these cabinets weren't expensive, so a hole isn't going to hurt.  But we had to put a support under the center of the shelving material because of the weight of my two machines, but it works!  I also have a torchiere lamp in the room, as it helps project light off the ceiling, which means there are less shadows in low or evening light. 

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