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sewing room built-in

Arling | Posted in General Discussion on

We are going to make a modest addition to our modest size house.  I have the opportunity to design a wooden cabinet built-in which would be my sewing space.   It is envisioned as a sort of book-case-like cabinet surrounding a window so I can look out and have natural light.  There would be a task lamp on an arm.  

Although I love to sew, I seem to be not so imaginative in terms of ideas for a sewing space that would be both beautiful and organized.  There were some useful posts in this forum back in 2005.  Do any of you have ideas that you’ve done in your own sewing space and want to recommend?  Could you possibly include a picture?


  1. starzoe | | #1

    I have been lucky in that in all my homes over the years I have had a room for sewing, among other projects. Without exception I have found that sewing facing a window is not a good choice. Of course it somewhat depends on what aspect the window faces but I found I was more comfortable and had better light with the light coming in diagonally over my left shoulder. As for the cabinet itself, investigate what is on the market and put the best of the ideas into your own cabinet. I sew on a double pedestal desk that has a top centre drawer with compartments, three drawers on each side and find it almost the perfect solution. You might reconsider the built-in aspect. In future years if you ever move or change the use of the room you might want to have the flexibility. Perhaps several pieces that could be moved into different configurations if you wanted to?

  2. NHodges | | #2

    Since you are starting from scratch.. one of my favorite things in my sewing room is a large fold down cutting table - at good cutting height. You need a solid wall to mount one - it is a piece of plywood 40x72 (same size as very large cutting mat) mounted to wall with piano type hinge. Legs fold down with table. It is down almost all the time but can be put up against the wall for access to storage underneath (or twin guest bed). Idea from Sunset magazine many, many years ago.

    1. Ceeayche | | #5

      My first house had a fold down cutting table that was 36" X 80"-- you may recognize it as the size of a hollow door.  It was also attached with a piano hinge, but had chains that suspended it from the frame.  The previous owner had also framed it with picture molding so that it looked like one large corkboard when closed.  I had a lot of fun with that cutting board... I'd decorate the corkboard for the seasons and once when I was entertaining, I used it as a bar!

      1. Palady | | #6

        Your fold down cutting table in your first house reminded me of something similar  my daughter had in an apt when she lived in Jamacia Plain, MA.  It was an ironing board & in a building that had been likely constructed in the 1920's.  The common areas & units were very well kept.

        Her ironing board was in the kitchen.  There was an outlet dedicated to the unit on the back wall once the board was positioned.  It even had a sleeve board incorporated into the all.  The sturdiness was impressive.  On one of my visits I put a new cover on both boards.  Much to daughter's delight, because I did it without telling her.  So when she went to use it after my departure, she found her surprise. 

        The unit was far superior to the "wall" units offered for new homes these days.  My son put one of these in for his first wife.  He spent a good bit of time practically rebuilding it because it would sag, or misalign, or just wobble.  Using it was a real chore.

        The one you had for use was likely custom built.  Do you think the house is still around?


        1. Ceeayche | | #10

          Though I haven't driven by there in a couple of years, the house is certainly still there in Oak Hill, VA.  In fact when the house burned in 1997.  We had the general contractor save the cutting board (it was in the basement and only had minimal water damage) and reinstall it in my new sewing room during reconstruction.  Though we sold the house, the cutting board used to be visible there from the sunny front room.

          1. Palady | | #11

            >> ... cutting board ... <<

            Sure hope the new owner's have found a use for it.  My dad built my mom a cutting table with shelf storage beneath it.  It would take burly folks to move it.  My brother now uses it as a drafting table.  Carpentry is an avocation for him so drawing plans et al works very well on it.

            Do you ahve something similar now?



          2. Ceeayche | | #12

            Actually I am doing  my studio now.  I have created a new one using cubies and a door.  it's at a great height.  I'm threatening to post pictures when I get finished.  I didn't have a wall suitable for hanging one this time.  So it floats out into the middle of the room.

  3. Teaf5 | | #3

    My sister had a built-in sewing space similar to what you are describing and found herself feeling claustrophobic in it.  It looked nice and kept the clutter to a minimum, but within a couple of years, she found herself using her portable machine on the kitchen table, where she felt more comfortable. 

    She dismantled the sewing space, gave me her machine and table, and now sews only on her portable.  I now move her machine to whichever spot has the best light; usually at right angles to a window to avoid glare. 

    When you plan your sewing spot, consider modular components so that you can change your mind or plans without a major remodel, and you won't have to dismantle it if you ever decide to move or sell your home.


  4. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #4

    I have to agree with the other posters! Sewing facing a window does not work for me either. I prefer being able to move around my table, and when working on larger projects, moving my machine to the end of the table to use the extra space to support the work in progress. I cut and sew on the same table, and like to leave the work out. Sunlight can fade it if I can't get back right away. Even if only for a few days. The other concern is the task lamp! Keep it up and well away from your machine. The heat can cause your machine to seize up! Been there and done that, it is a very expensive repair. Cathy

  5. woodruff | | #7

    I agree with others about sewing while facing or looking out a window. In several of our houses over the years (including the current one, alas), space problems have dictated that I simply had to place my big sewing cabinet in front of a window, but I can state that sunlight coming in directly from the east and south creates amazing glare and makes it necessary to sew with the blinds drawn! In our current house, I'm facing north with a pretty view, and no direct sunlight comes in, and yet much of the time, there's still enough glare that the curtains have to be at least partially closed. Sunlight coming in behind me, preferably over my shoulder, would be so much more helpful.

  6. beo | | #8

    I recently designed my dedicated sewing room aroung inspiration from IKEA and a feft over outside door!  The IKEA table trestles were about the right thing, but I called a carpenter friend and gave him the dimensions, drawer size etc., and he made the for less than the IKEA trestles.  He also cut a hole in the door and inserted a drop panel so my machine would be flush with the work space.  The size is great, and I have three drawers that are sectioned off that hold thread and bobins, along with six other drawers of varying sizes.  Best of all, since I painted the Trestles and my husband staing and sealed the table top, it cost less than $150.00!  As for a cutting table, the standard fold-down from Hancocks is relatively inexpensive and doesn't take up much space when not in use.  Kate

  7. User avater
    Sewista | | #9

    Unlike the others, I absolutely love sewing in front of my window. I watch the birds, see my garden, and watch the seasons go by. In the summer I do get a half hour when the sunlight is directly coming in but that is when I get up and start making dinner. Will you have storage in this area? How big is it actually going to be? There are armoires you can buy that are fitted or can be fitted with to become a sewing cabinet and look like a great piece of furniture when not in use. You might want to take a look in the furniture store in the office area before your final decisions.

  8. sewelegant | | #13

    I have to agree with what has been said about the glare from the window!  But, I have my machine in one of those Robert's corner cabinets with the window all along one side.  Most of the day I do not worry about glare, however, I do not spend a great deal of time actually "sewing" like some of our poster friends do, so this was not a deciding factor; my pleasure in looking out the window was!  So I am wondering if you could design a pull down table in your bookcase design so that you would be sewing with your machine not directly facing the window?  I also recommend a good swivel office chair.  It's not only comfortable, but allows you to choose where you want (or need) to look.

  9. junkhound | | #14

    Built this room for DW 35 years ago, she has done over 10,000 quilts in here.

    15ft by 10 ft room, fold down 4 ft by 6 ft cutting table with rotary cutter mat that I dont think has EVER been folded down.  All walls covered with cabinets except for window and doors.

    2ea  8 ft fluorescent lights plus other area lights and swivel magnifying lamp (not shown)

    View Image

    Edited 3/24/2009 9:50 am ET by junkhound

    1. katina | | #15

      The work your wife has done is incredible, and it's very touching that you posted about it for us here on Gatherings. As your wife is quite obviously a generous and thoughtful person, she won't mind at all if a very large carrier pigeon arrives shortly to bring you over here for a few days - got a sewing room that needs fixin'....

      Best wishes to you both


      1. Roznos | | #16

        Before I even looked into redoing my sewing room. I read Dream Sewing Spaces by Lynette Ranney Black. It is a Palmer/Pletsch Publication - probably out of print, but readily available on ebay/amazon used books.  It doesn't give you floor plans nor are the pictures up-date; however, it is great book for designing a sewing studio because it helps your to 1) Define what you want your sewing area to support (crafts? quilting? clothing construction?) 2) How much are you really willing to spend on this remodel? (new lighting? built in cabinet? portable cabinets?) 3) Do you want to design a 'private' space?  Semi-public space?  Multi-use space?  This book asks a lot of questions which will assist you in deciding what to do.  I highly recommended it.  After reading this book, I called a general contractor because I wanted a really great place to be creative.

        1. katina | | #18

          Thanks very much for the info; I bet I can spend days drooling over the pictures. Now, just as soon as I decide what I want....


    2. User avater
      Sewista | | #17

      Thanks so much for sharing your wonderful work with us. It is very impressive skill wise but I am also impressed with your generosity.

    3. woodruff | | #19

      Beautiful room! I am green with envy.

    4. User avater
      rodezzy2 | | #20

      Wonderful, what a lucky gal.

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