Our quilt is layered and basted, we have chosen our needles and threads, and tested our choices on a practice quilt sandwich. As our series on machine quilting continues, we turn our attention to setting up a workspace for machine quilting. What follows is an updated version of my February 23, 2011 post.
In order to successfully machine quilt any size quilt on a home sewing machine, we don’t want our quilt to drag while we are stitching. We want the height of the quilt to be flush with the needle plate and the weight of the quilt to be balanced. Not only does a quilt drag when it falls off the edge of the table, it drags if it hangs below the height of the needle plate. This occurs when a sewing machine sits on top of a table.
There are beautiful sewing machine cabinets designed to address this very problem. Available in a wide variety of sizes, finishes, and price points, these cabinets feature a recessed shelf which allows the sewing machine to sit lower than the table top.
How I longed for one of these cabinets! But I had a problem: I didn’t have enough space in my sewing room. Two Ikea-style tables fill the center of my studio.
To add a sewing machine cabinet, I would have to remove a table. This did not appeal to me because I like having those two tables together. They come in handy for all kinds of tasks, including basting! But how could I set up my workspace for machine quilting so that my quilts wouldn’t hang over the edge of my sewing machine? My solution was to build a custom table-top for one of my work tables.
Here’s how it works. Position the sewing machine on the table as far to the right as possible. Measure the width and the depth of the space used by the machine. Also measure the height to the needle plate. From a sheet of melamine, plywood, or other laminated sheet the same size as your table, cut out a section measuring the width and depth of your sewing machine.
Build a base underneath the table top to raise the height equal to the sewing machine. Having this base inset a few inches from the edges is a good idea.
Place this unit onto the original table top, lining up the edges.
Now, the height of my sewing machine is equal to the table top and my quilts are well supported. They don’t drag while I am machine quilting and I was able to keep my two tables.
And that beautiful Koala Studios Quiltmate Plus IV sewing cabinet? I have one on order for my new cottage studio!!
So clever! I just purchased an IKEA table for my sewing machine…your post is a great reason to buy more tables. They are so versatile. Thanks for the info.
Good questions! This set up does not have any extra forearm support, other than the extension plate that is part of my sewing machine. My machine is positioned fairly close to the front edge of the table (I have a knee lift lever that needs to fit), so this hasn’t been an issue for me. You might find it interesting to compare my approach with this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAS25v3ZTk0 – especially if you need to build up support in front of the machine.
The cut-out table top added around 3″ to the height. The only compensation I required was to raise the height of my chair, which was not a problem since it is an office chair on castors with a pneumatic lift. Depending on your height and the length of your legs, this could present a problem reaching the presser foot. If this is the case, you could raise the presser foot by placing it on a platform of some kind.
Hope this helps, and good luck with setting up your workspace!
All the best,
Karla Caldwell says
How timely this is, Kathy!!!
I’ve been researching how to do this for weeks now, trying to figure out the best solution for my 10 x 11 room and that would give me this type of set up where my machine bed is flush with my sewing machine extension tray. Hubby wasn’t relishing the idea of cutting into a table top to drop my machine into, and we do not have the budget to secure any pre-made sewing machine table, so… this might be the ticket.
I have a couple of questions for you, please. Do you have the forearm support with your new set up since there is no table surface in front of your sewing machine extension to rest your arms on? My physical therapist tells me this is so important to help alleviate much of our shoulders, neck and back fatigue/pain while sewing.
Secondly, since you’re building UP your current tables, how did you compensate for the increased height of everything – cut down your table legs or…?
I also love this idea as it allows you to quickly change your table(s) for sewing/quilting or back again to another use by removing the built up table top. Awesome! 🙂
Oh! I like this idea. I’m hoping to have this type of setup when my sewing room is done. Thanks for the info!