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work bench

kayrosie | Posted in General Discussion on

I am getting a new sewing room, and I would like to put a work bench up against the wall and shelves and stuff underneath it.  Does anybody have any plans about a workbench or cabinet against the wall.



  1. MaryinColorado | | #1

    How exciting for you!  A book I find helpful is: Dream Sewing Spaces by Lynette Ranney Black, Palmer/Pletsch Publishing.  It contains design and organization for spaces large and small, covers lighting, ergonomics, etc. 

    Many people sent in photos of thier sewing rooms to this site:   http://www.younge.com/sewing%20rooms.htm  It is interesting to see what so many sewists have done.

    I have a 3 drawer sturdy wood dresser attatched at the side to a 30"Wx60"L preformed counter top.  We used one 2x4 under the opposite side front and then under the long lenth it has support boards screwed into the wall studs.  It's 26"high, as I am under 5' tall. 

    My serger table is 2'deep, by 4'wide.  Also a counter top from the home improvement store.  It has a board under the center attatched to it and the wallstuds both behind and on one side of the table.  .  The front legs are from an old table.  It is in the corner so it would have extra support to prevent vibration.

    I had them in an L shape for awhile with the two tables butted against each other for awhile.  This was a nice work station, but took up alot of space as I had it in the center of the room so I could look outside while machine embroidering. 

    It's a good idea to have two different breakers if possible.  My steam generator/iron uses too much electricity to sew on the same breaker sometimes. 

    My computer/desk is in the walk in closet.  We took the doors off.  Large cork bulletin board above the desk.  One wall has shelves with plastic bins full of patterns, pillowforms, batting, interfacing, small cuts of fabrics, etc, etc  The other sidewall still has the rod which holds fabric on hangers and current projects.

    I have several rolling carts with plastic drawers, one fits perfectly under the serger table and has large drawers that hold my threadcones, books, supplies.

    I have a cornice shelf with a rod under it, about 6' long.  I hang fleece or flannel on the dowel for a design wall for quilts and jackets.  It's my newest addition to the room.  Full length mirror on the back of the door. 

    Little tv/vcr/dvd player fits on a corner wall shelf above sewing machine tables. 

    Used furniture and used office supply shops have lots of goodies.  I got an adjustable drafting chair for $10.oo that looks brand new.  It works for the cutting/planning table or ironing if I set the iron board high.  I love my ironing board, 48"by18", some people like a pressing/cutting table that can be made.

    I use a portable cutting table so it folds up small, from fabric store on sale.  You can buy a pressing mat that fits it but I found it was a pain to put on and take off when I wanted to fold up the table. 

    Enjoy the process, you lucky gal!!  Be sure to take good ergonomics into consideration as much as you can!  Mary 

  2. MaryinColorado | | #2

     Every time I've rearranged my room, I have to remind the guys not to set scratchy tools on the surfaces.  They once drilled holes into a tabletop, it ruined the table as it snagged the fabric.  That one is in the garage now holding a scrollsaw.  lol

    Track lighting is great!

  3. solosmocker | | #3

    I don't have specific plans but here is a link to my room. http://everythingsewing.net/smockette_sewingroom.htm I have a 9 foot piece of formica between the walls and this is held up by cabinets which give me plenty of storage. I got the formica laminate at Home Depot, stock goods, and the cabinets as well. Hope this helps. solo

    1. GailAnn | | #4

      What a lovely, lovely room!  Gail

    2. kayrosie | | #5

      Looks good, My husband is going to make a long cabinet like that for me to put my stuff on.  Anyway I think that is the plan.  Mine is not going to be as pretty as yours.  Yours looks great.

    3. rodezzy | | #6

      What a beautiful room, so very feminine and calming.  I just love it.  It looks like a fancy dressing room.  Are you sure you're not the Queen of England?

      Edited 11/16/2007 11:57 am ET by rodezzy

      1. solosmocker | | #7

        Too funny! I am more the queen of a beer budget with the real Queen's good taste! Thanks for the compliments. One thing about my setup is that cabinets come a certain height if you are getting the stock from the depot. Then you add the formica on top. This will make your machine sit high and if you are 5 ft tall like me its a problem. I easily solved the problem by just hiking up my office chair and upholstering an oblong box on which I put my foot pedals. It took me less than an hour to get used to the new setup and I haven't given it a thought since. solo

    4. User avater
      blondie2sew | | #19

      I know you have heard it before but WOW!! I want your room..Exquiste
      to be exact!! No other words...Oh yeah I can add Amazing!!
      Well done..What an inspiration to us all

  4. mainestitcher | | #8

    DH put plywood underneath all the sheet rock, so I could have a shelf anywhere I wanted one.

    In addition to a separate circuit for the iron, he put a switch for the outlet by the door, as well.

    1. kayrosie | | #9


      1. MaryinColorado | | #10

        You might want to start a thread about an ergonomic studio.  There is a poster here who is very knowledgeable about it.  I think she's a Physical Therapist.  She might have some great tips for you.

        I use track lighting.  It works great.  Then I also have a floor pole lamp that I move around the room if I need it.  Ott lights are popular among sewests too.  Mary

        1. jothwade | | #11

          has anyone had experience building or having built of have plans for making a sewing table into which the machine can be llowered or set to provide a really big, flat surface? I know that smaller tables (some larger) are availabe at great price....Jotham

          1. MaryinColorado | | #12

            You can buy the electric or hydraulic type or manual lifts by themselves.  ( I just bought a clear plastic "table" that has legs and was precut at the factory for my specific machine.  It sits on the sewing bench, but provides a larger work serface. )  I'd rather have the lifts, of course! 

            I've seen different set ups at sewing/quilting shows and online.  Maybe it was at http://www.allbrands.com Try http://www.nancysnotions.com and the companies that sell the tables sometimes sell just the parts/hardware.

            Horn, KoalaCabinets, Sylvia, are a few names.  I did a google search under sewing furniture and found http://www.sewingoutlet.com then if you search under furniture, they list alot of brands.  hope this helps

            Edited 11/19/2007 11:46 am by MaryinColorado

      2. solosmocker | | #13

        Your approach to lighting is critical. I am pleased with the solutions we found. I have three halogen pendants hanging over my work area. They give great light. One possible disadvantage is the heat they put out. I can be wearing a sweater in the rest of the house but when I so its sometimes in a tank top in the middle of winter. To the left of my machines is an adjustable desk lamp fitted with a full spectrum compact flourescent. No heat there and great focusable light. I'd be lost without it. The lamp is actually a Martha Stewart desk lamp from Kmart. 29.95, if my memory is correct, and pretty stylish looking. I find this style of light gives me better focusing options than the Ott lights. I cn bend this thing any way I want. In the ceiling I have halogen recessed lighting over my cutting area. I also have VERY bright flourescents in my fabric closet. Can't wait to see this room when you are done!solo

        1. kayrosie | | #14

          My husband is home working on it now. 

  5. Phoebe3 | | #15

    Just a word of advice. Make your work top the right height for you. If your kitchen counter is at a comfortable height, great; average counters will work for you. If not, you may want to go higher or lower than average. Standard counters give me a backache.

  6. User avater
    dayenu | | #16

    the books mentioned are great for answering ergonomic questions and giving you  organization ideas.

    we all have different needs. my work is clothing, home decor and art pieces where i embellish, felt dye and bead.

    here is my work room with overhead lighting, task lighting, lots of windows and a ceiling fan for summer.


    1. MaryinColorado | | #17

      WOW  WOW and WOW!!!  Everything is wonderful!  You put the V in Variety!  What a multitalented fiber artist you are!  I love that salmon dupioni, the woven blanket, the "geodes", all of it.  What incredible work spaces you have.  Thank you for sharing this with us!  Mary

    2. solosmocker | | #18

      That is an amazing space you have. Just wonderful and I know you just love it. I clicked on your projects and was very impressed.

    3. User avater
      blondie2sew | | #20

      Thanks for your inspiration on your sewing space and projects...love it!!Looks like you have a wonderful space...mine is pretty small so I am in for a challenge...love all this thread for all the wonderful lighting and layout ideas..thanks

      1. User avater
        dayenu | | #21

        when i was a just  married I was thrilled to have a table chair and small dresser in a small alcove in the living room. and over the years it has grown and grown.

        Following your bliss pays off.

        1. User avater
          blondie2sew | | #22

          Very well said!! Love it

          1. stitchintime | | #23

            Has anybody ever sewn standing up? I've seen pictures of a garment factory where the machines are set up higher to have the workers sew standing up rather than sitting down. They have special mats they stand on.  I also noticed on a quilting video on u tube the instructor sewed standing up. The machine was set up on the cutting table. 

          2. solosmocker | | #24

            I often sew standing up, particularly after a long spell at the machine. I am just not good at sitting still even if it is doing what I absolutely love. I must say, when I stand up I get a great view of the needle hitting the cloth. solo

          3. stitchintime | | #26

            How high does the machine sit relative to your body? Should the presser foot be aligned with my elbows? mid-arm?  I have developed back troubles and sitting for too long aggravates it. I'd like to try standing up. 

          4. solosmocker | | #27

            My machine is at regular counter top height. I have an office chair that is pumped up a little higher. Then at my feet is a 6 inch high upholstered platform that in its former life was a styrofoam fish box. The presser foot should be directly in front of you, so you are basically sitting to the left of the machine. You want to make sure you have comfortable knee space to the left of your body. I have seen people center there machines over knee space and the machine really needs to be to the right more. As far as any other ergonomics, I truly don't know. My cutting table is 36 inches high, I believe, and is the basic Joann table. I love it. I am five feet tall and find it totally comfortable. When you are working at a station and never think about your comfort, then you are totally comfortable. I hope the resources already mentioned can give you better info on the necessary ergonomics. I just don't know any more about it, just know from experience what I find comfortable. solo

          5. stitchintime | | #29

            "When you are working at a station and never think about your comfort, then you are totally comfortable."How true! Thanks for your help.

  7. maggiecoops | | #25

    Hi Kayrosie, I've read all the responses to you and they all have some great ideas. The things I found that needed changing when I did my sewing room was the working heights for cutting or drafting, the areas I allowed for working at my machines, and the walking routes between the main areas of use.

    I found that not having a cutting table that was high enough to work at comfortably caused fatigue. Rather than just look at sewing rooms I researched carpenters benches, workshop benches and laboratry benches, all designed to be used in a standing position or sitting on a high stool . They all shared one thing, a non standard comfortable working height. to find it I had stand with my left arm bent at elbow and tucked into my waist with my forearm extending in front . Then using a pencil mark a wall with the height my elbow joint was from the floor, then subtract 1 or 2 inches from that measurement.  I'm 63" tall and my cutting table/drafting table is 38.75" high. Because my workroom is quite small, 8 foot by 17 foot, I asked my son to make me a table with drop down flaps and on castors. That was so I could use it opened up to it's full 6 foot length by 3 foot wide for cutting or pattern drating, or drop the flaps and just have a 3 foot square surface that I could keep against a wall. My sewing room had to accomodate 2 commercial embroidery machines, 2 computer desks, a scannr printer,a domestic sewing/embroidery machine and extension table, a serger, computerised sewing machine with small extension table. Wall mounted work benches, book shelves, fabric storage, thread storage,  notions and habby and all my houshold files. I don't store threads in the open otherwise they lose their tensile strength and get dusty, so I bought plastic storage drawers on castors, and smaller ones for my habby and notions. On one end wall with a window I had book shelves erected either side and above thhe indow sitting on an 8 foot long bench. on the left side of it is  6 drawer Madiera polyneon treasure chest, in the centre the combi sew/emb machine and extension table. On the right hand side, a plasma TV tuner, Dvd player, Sky digi box  Video tape player stacked up and topped with a remote sensor for the gubbins under it.  The bookshelves are stacked with magazines and books. under the bench is a six foot shelf with plastic storage boxes stacked 2 high on and under the shelve full of fabric. So I wont be hunched over while using the embroidery machine the bench is 32.5 high. Running down the long wall with the entrance to the room n it is another wall mounted bench. This one is 75" long, it would have been longer but a chimney flue was in the way. On that sit my serger and  sewing machine. If I need lots of elbow room I move the seger to one side as it's the smaller machine, or if I'm serging, move it alongside the sewing machine so I have plenty of work bench to support my work. 3 of the drawer units sit under the bench. Above it are  two shelves housing beads, standard sewing thread in two wooden drawer units, 2 plastic drawer sets meant for a workshop housing buttons, machine needles etc, a cantilevered sewing box full of skeins of embroidery floss, and my drafting curves and rulrs, on the top shelf sit more sewing or embroidery related magazines. The wall opposite is home to a computer and desk attached to one of the industrial embroidery machines, next to that in it's closed position is my cutting table which is a cupboard without a door, as I wanted with one shelf where my tool boxes sit, my stabiliisers, the hard covers for my sewing machines. On the side of it is a fitting for my big sash hoop. I have 2 wall mounted rolls of stabiler, a shelf above those with bits and bobs. My cutting table when its opened turns sideways so I have access to 3 sides. then when I'm done with it drop the flaps turn it so the shelf area is at the front and push it against the wall. It becomes my hooping station for my embroidery machines. At either side are 2 more plastic drawer units on castors. they get tucked under the back flap when I'm cutting. on the opened table. The fourth wall, has 2 wall mounted shelves with all my household files and printed tutorials. in the corner to the right are three large stacker bins full of fabric. In the centre my second industrial embroidery machine, next to that the other computer desk with my main computer, a short wall mounted shelf houses the printer scanner, ans in the corner two small drawer units housing dvds computer programs, office supplies. and my house phone.  To light all this I have two windows,  and two six foot daylight flourescent double tube ceiling fittings. One either end of the room, they have extremely good diffusers so don't cast heavy shadows. I wanted the same level of light created as I would have at mid day working next to a window. My 4 tubes give me this, their lux ratings are excellent, and they don't flicker, something the old flourescent tubes do even when new. I also have a flexi arm table light with the daylight D tube for extra light and 2 anglepoise lights should I need them.

    My work room evolved to this set out as I found things like lighting and the lux levels were important, work bench heights were vital as I have osteo arthritis and can't afford to sit too low or high at my machines, and if I have to bend cutting out my hips lock fast and I have to retire to my bed for days. I had to look at where my power outlets were and have some moved to counter height and more put in. I had a thread rack that looked lovely with all my threads on it, but that got donated to the local refuse dump as I found the threads dried, bleached and became brittle.  I found storing fabrics on shelves in cupboards didn't stop them getting dried out or nasty little insects and those fold discolouration marks so I got the plastic deep trays with sealable lids, since then no problems. The castors mean I can quickly move or re arrange my storage units. the fold down flaps mean I free up floor space when it's not in use and deny myself clutter space as well. Scissors I have hanging on cup hooks, embroidery frames or hung on the wall, yard sticks are stored on the shelf above the rolls of stabilisers. I can move around my room easily and quickly and find what I need .

    Oh dear I've written loads haven't I.

    1. kayrosie | | #28

      To everybody, all your suggesstions I have thoght about all of the.   I too have a Joann's cutting table so that is not a problem. I am thinking my husband can make my counter top and I will probably still use what I am using now for my sewing machine. I have two old sewing machine tables and they are just the right height.  So I am thinking I might just keep them and use them for the sewing machine to sit on.  Will roll it around again and give it some thought.   I am anxious to get moved down but have to put the flooring down first.  We are going to put down lament I think.  I do not want carpet.  All of your rooms sound so good and I am hoping my turns out good. I will send pictures when we get it done. Kinda on the back burner now since it is Xmas.  All extra money going for that.  

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