Thursday, May 1, 2014

Make Your Own Sewing Desk

Make Your Own Sewing Desk Tutorial

Dracula hands. That's what Craig calls them. At 4'10", my arms were always uncomfortably perched in the air reaching up to the sewing bed of my Bernina . I felt it more closely resembled a pose in the Thriller dance.  My arms were wildly waving in the area to reach the sewing surface which was about 3 1/2" above the table. You can get a sense of how crap sewing is on a normal desk from this photo taken just last week. The surface isn't flat. Cords drape everywhere. It's uncomfortable. A friend came over and we had a good chat about the height of machines and sore shoulders. She found a solution in a portable table, but it just wasn't my style at all. 

I fret about where I sew almost as much as what I sew.  I shopped around and realized there aren't many good choices when it comes to modern sewing cabinets. In days gone by, you could get an awesome Singer cabinet or something mad, crazy awesome like this midcentury modern sewing desk. So utterly clever, the machine stores inside and then flips up for sewing. Nowadays, sewing cabinets tend to be both expensive and ugly. The cheapest start around $150, but they run into the thousands. I lamented my options.

I also realized that I absolutely love how my ALEX and MELLTORP fit together. With that in mind, we set off this morning to the shops to make our own homegrown IKEAhack.

- IKEA EFFEKTIV door panel - $5 in AS-IS (any laminated panel will do!)
- 4  Cap-head 3/8" x 6"  (we could have gone shorter)
- 8 Washers - 3/8" 
- 8 Nuts - 3/8"

Total Supply Spend $13.32 AUD since we already owned the table. $62.32 to buy it all with the table.

- pencil or marking tool
- jigsaw or router
- drill with 3/8" bit
- spanner or wrench for nuts&bolts
- orbital sander or sanding block

The basic idea was to mount the door panel below the surface of the desk. This would allow the machine to be sunken into the table and let the sewing bed sit flush. We decided using bolts to mount the panel would make it easily adjustable so we could move it up and down to assure the surface was flat.

I traced the outline of my Bernina sewing machine and it's acrylic sewing bed onto the MELLTORP table allowing slightly extra room for cords. Craig used the jigsaw to cut it out.

We used an orbital sander and some sanding disks to smooth out the rough bits.

We then marked out holes and mounted the EFFEKTIV door on bolts below the desk. It all went so quick that I missed pictures at this stage. Using bolts allowed us to adjust things up and down to make sure the sewing bed sat flush with the desk. We reinforced it all with nuts and now I've got a custom sewing table that perfectly fits my machine.

I think it's a great solution. The only downfall, if I must pick one, is that bolt heads do stick up slightly as we couldn't find long bolts with countersink heads. The cap heads are round and smooth though and don't interfere with fabric flowing over them and aren't uncomfortable for my arms. They are noticeable but not annoying. Aesthetically, we could have done a little better there.

The Bernina sewing bed has a slight arch to it naturally, but the edges sit smoothly with the desk.

We saved ourselves a fortune, and we've made something that we're proud of.  The supplies cost us $13.32 and we got some awesome new power tools to play with.

Happy hacking. Happy crafting. -- Amy


Edit: I was asked for additional photos to answer some questions:

Can you show me the final construction so that I can show my husband? 

Here it is. You can see the small door is mounted below the table. It is sandwiched between a pair of nuts on each bolts.. This photo is taken from floor height. You really don't see this from eye height because of the lip of the table.

You could use white iron-on melamine to line the edge of the desk.

Great tip. We had thought of it and decided not to since it's not visible when the machine is in place. Good tip for others who are less accurate with the jigsaw and sanding. If you are going to use the melamine make sure your hole will be large enough with the melamine in place.

What if you need to sew a cuff?
I can lift the sewing plastic sewing bed out and still work around the machine arm. Or I can pick up the sewing machine move it over on top of the rolling cart briefly and sew up there.

What are those shiny silver things?

Smooth nut  heads. Ideally, we'd use countersink nuts but we couldn't find any over 4"  in our local hardware store. We decided to use the roundish smooth cap heads. If they seem like they'd annoy you, you could always use a bigger bottom surface instead of a cabinet door. Then you could move the mounts further out and away from your machine. We needed ours close so the ALEX would still fit under when not in use as a cutting surface. You can see there's only an inch of clearance for the ALEX.

Is it hard to change the bobbin?
My small hands can reach underneath, but it is a little fiddly. 
The easy way is to slightly tilt the machine and slide the sewing bed off. 
This gives easy access for cleaning as well.

 I saw this tutorial on another blog and have wanted to do this for a long time to my desk. 
Flush sewing would be so nice and by doing this to a reclaimed piece of furniture is the cheapest way.

Linked back to the original blog:            bad skirt.blogspot  by Amy Badskirt

Thanks for stopping by. Come back again to 
see what I might be up to. Stay creative!


  1. Clever and creative idea. Love it! Thanks for sharing. I'll get my husband to try and make something similar with my sewing table.

  2. Love the Chair, where did you get the fabric. I have calendar and clock fabrics but I would love to get my hands on some of the red/yellow, etc background. Thanks for sharing - yes, my husband built me a table many years ago before Ikea (lol) and it still works to perfection - no matter what machine I am using.


Thanks for stopping by my blog. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think. . Come back and check to see what I will be creating or talking about in my Ladybugs Garden. Stay creative!