Sewing Table #1: Sketchup Model

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Blog entry by Blake posted 04-11-2008 02:28 AM 12837 reads 2 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Sewing Table series Part 2: My First Fine Furnature!!! Getting Started... Milling the Lumber »

Looks like I may be graduating to larger fine woodworking projects. My dad wants me to make a sewing table for my mom’s birthday in June.

She likes my grandma’s sewing table because it is “just the right size” and doesn’t hurt her back when she sits at it. The old sewing machine table is very simple, made of fir or pine. It has an insert 3” deep for most machines to sit in, level with the table.

Anyway, here is the sketchup I created based on the measurements from the old table, and my style/design ideas. I kept it simple but threw in a few curves for aesthetics and extra leg room.

Let me know what you think.

-- Happy woodworking!

19 comments so far

View grovemadman's profile


961 posts in 4850 days

#1 posted 04-11-2008 02:53 AM

Looks reaaaaaaaaal good Blake. Go for it!

-- "It is the job of the woodworker to hide his mistakes and keep a tight set of lips about them!"--Chuck

View dlcarver's profile


270 posts in 4808 days

#2 posted 04-11-2008 03:24 AM

Looks absolutely fabulous ! Great sketch up design ! Looks neat !
Thanks for posting.

-- Dave Leitem,Butler,Pa.,

View Bob Babcock's profile

Bob Babcock

1819 posts in 5164 days

#3 posted 04-11-2008 04:33 AM

Nice design and Sketchup work. I like the angled drawer faces. Very cool.

-- Bob

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1427 posts in 4952 days

#4 posted 04-11-2008 04:33 AM

Wow, that’s really neat! Your model is really detailed, and the design looks great!

Sewing machines are fairly heavy, and make that repetitive bobbing motion, so I’d be thinking about stress over time. The table top supports the back side of the “tray”, but the front side will get most of it’s support front that front stretcher. I don’t sew, but thinking back to seeing my mother sew, I seem to remember her leaning against and pressing down on the front edge of the machine/table, so there might be additional weight/stress in that area. The stretcher in your drawing gets pretty narrow at the center. I don’t know if you want to widen it because of aesthetic and leg-room reasons, but I think I would try to figure out some additional reinforcement in that area.

I can’t wait to see the finished product – I’m sure your mom will be very pleased!

-- -- --

View bfd's profile


502 posts in 4885 days

#5 posted 04-11-2008 04:34 AM

Hi Blake,

Nice design. Are you also going to do this out of fir and pine also or did you have other woods in mind. I am digging the worm’s eye view of the under-structure. Those drawers will be a lot of fun to make with the curve that follows the line of the front apron. I hope you decide to blog the process.

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5066 days

#6 posted 04-11-2008 04:35 AM

I think that you might want to raise the sewing maching above the surface of the table.

Sewing machines usually have a provision for sewing sleeves or pant legs that allow you to slide them over the
end of the machine.

Your grandma’s machine might not have that feature, but you might want to double check.

Great job with sketchup!

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Thuan's profile


203 posts in 4896 days

#7 posted 04-11-2008 04:41 AM

Great looking table Blake, I want you and your mom to have a successful table, so there’s a couple things I do see since my mom sews clothes when we came to the states many years ago. We lived with two industrial machines in the living room as she earns a living by sewing dresses at home to keep an eye on us.
You have to offset the machine to the right of the table as the needle is the functional center of the sewing center. The right hand feeds the cloth as the left hand pulls it out, the sewer would need to scoot too much to the left to use your table. The other thing is to incorporate the power cord and task light into it. It make it much more challenging but you can do it.

-- Thuan

View Betsy's profile


3394 posts in 4974 days

#8 posted 04-11-2008 04:59 AM

Blake – before I took up woodworking – I was very into the needle crafty stuff – along with sewing. Peter is right – we tend to lean on the front of the table while we sew – don’t know why – but I always did and so do my friends. It’s a bad habit – but it is what it is.

Gary is also right – the old machines did not have the arm for sewing in the round – such as pant legs, etc. One thing you might consider is having the left side of the table fold out so that the machine can be recessed while she is sewing flat and can flip it over to give more work space and be able to use the arm unfettered by the lip of the table. Would only take a piano hinge and little creativity——I’m sure you could do that.

Thuan is also right——move the machine to the right and that will keep her from having to scoot over – and that also gives you more room for another drawer.

As to the drawers – make sure they are deep enough to hold spools of thread and all the little things she’ll use. She probably has a little machine kit that came with the machine – mine is a box about 3” deep by 3×6. So she’ll need room for that and scissors, etc. Also, it’s nice to have a pattern drawer to keep favorite patterns handy.

Also, one thing that I know all of my tables lacked was more room to the back. I’d add several inches if you can.

And Peter is right about the vibration from the up and down motion of the machine. If the table is not sturdy enough to handle the vibration it will drive her crazy. So make sure it’s got lots of support.

You might also sneak a peak at her work area that she has set up now and see if you can pick up any little things that she seems to use that you may be able to design into the table. I had a magnifying lamp on my table that I used quite a lot. You might even think about putting a little bookcase/back on the table that you could put an under-the-cabinet light on. The little light on the machine is never enough. This will also give her room for pattern books and things.

Hope that helps.

And by the way—- much like my dovetails—- your scissors are backwards on the table. A sewer would never place them down like that!!!! :=)

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 5066 days

#9 posted 04-11-2008 05:10 AM

Looks like you got what you asked for Blake! All good observations.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Dick, & Barb Cain's profile

Dick, & Barb Cain

8693 posts in 5377 days

#10 posted 04-11-2008 06:16 AM

I think moving the machine toward the right would eliminate some of the weight stress in the middle.

Then you wouldn’t have to beef up your design, it has such beautiful lines to it.

-- -** You are never to old to set another goal or to dream a new dream ****************** Dick, & Barb Cain, Hibbing, MN.

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4952 days

#11 posted 04-11-2008 07:22 AM

Wow, thanks for all the excellent advice. I will be looking into options on all of those suggestions. Feel free to keep them coming! Thanks everyone. This will be a fun project… I think this is my first real piece of furniture.

Oh, and by the way, I will be using hardwood. Probably Cherry or Mahogany. The legs/aprons will be mortise and tenon.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Tony's profile


995 posts in 5108 days

#12 posted 04-11-2008 08:48 AM

Hi Blake

Really nice design, but has already been said, I would have the machine sitting level with the top. Use the space where the machine was sitting to place a wide, shallow drawer for larger items, keeping the curved rail as it is. A couple of advantages to this is; it will strengthen the front stretcher, add valuable storage space and if the sewing stops or a new machine is bought, then you have no restrictions on the size of the machine or use of the table – it would look wonderful as a hall table.

Get into the sewing room and look at small things that your grandmother has, such as scissors, pots for pins any other containers she uses and make sure they will fit in the drawers – it would be a shame if her favourite tub of pins were 1/16” to high to fit in the drawer.

As to vibration problem – this will definitely have a dramatic effect on the glue joints – you should think about pinning the tenons and if you add rubber/neoprene anti scratch pads to the bottom of the legs, this will absorb and dampen a lot of the vibration.

Now for the interesting part – to make it even more unique – why not add some inlay as well just to make it extra extra special, maybe her initials on the top.

I hope this has been of use – just ask and you will receive!

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5040 days

#13 posted 04-11-2008 01:08 PM

Blake, that is a great use of Sketch Up. And, that’s a dandy sewing table. this will be a good project for you. You will do very well.

I guess I should add my 2 cents worth. I do spend some time at a small flat bed I have in the saddle shop. My small machine, a Singer upholstery machine, is about the size of Carleen’s house machine. It is on a commercial table that is 5 feet long and about 30 inches wide. The machine sits down in a cut out which fits most machines of this size. Much like the older Singer household machines. The machine sits at the right edge of the table with just enough room to the right for the bobbin winder. On most household machines, the bobbin winder is not mounted on the table but on the machine itself. You should center the foot on the table for the best results. Most house machines have the light and switch on the case itself so it not necessary to wire the table but a provision for the foot pedal needs to be addressed. That usually needs to come from the bottom of the case. You will just have to look.

I agree with the idea of having the table adjustable for flat work or off-arm. Most sewing is done on a flat bed and the off arm feature is used some but not as much so this would be very nice. Much as I love the look of wood, I would probably make the top from laminate like a kitchen counter top. I guess it’s a matter of aesthetics. In the house wood would look better. I just like to sew on a very slick top. Carleen has had her machine for over 45 years and it is still going strong. She just sets it on the kitchen table and gets after it. She bought the machine when she was on the road as a Pixey photographer and lived in motel rooms all over the West. She is used to sewing with the machine on the top of the table. I hope this wasn’t to be a surprise because you should really get some in put from the operator. Good luck.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5239 days

#14 posted 04-11-2008 02:37 PM

impressive sketchup AND list of tips!

is this going to be a surprise present? You might want to ask the user for feedback on ideas… we all get our habits and own personal way of doing things.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 5075 days

#15 posted 04-11-2008 11:53 PM

I can’t add much to the design. I like what I see so far! The curves feel a bit too dramatic; first response was to ease the curves. Sounds like this thing has to be like a workbench! Since that’s what it really is…an elegant workbench. What about a deep drawer on one side or the other to hold the patterns that Besty mentioned…if that’s how your mom works…

It’ll be fun to watch this take shape…

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

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