This is my new sewing table! Oh how it was a dream come true but to understand the end, you have to know the process. Let’s start at the very beginning of the sewing room evolution. This room started out as our library. It was dark and moody and had FIVE bookcases. But once my husband and I started crafting again, we decided to move our books to the living room and turn this into a craft room. The left desk is his (here I was using it to teach my little girl to sew) for painting and drawing. These tables were from Ikea. You can read more about them here.
I stained the tables a chestnut brown and sealed them with a polycrylic. During the shutdowns, I decided to tackle making this room lighter and brighter-more to my neutral loving home taste. I painted the walls white, built-in the Ikea bookcases, removed the rug and stripped the desks so I could stain them lighter to look like a white oak. I also stripped the prior cutting table top I had (an old dining table) and brough up some storage drawers from our basement to set under the top. They looked nice but not like a light white oak stain more like white washed pine.
This last year I decided to quilt more of the quilts myself. I loved using the books Walk and Walk 2.0 by Jacquie Gering. I not only quilted more of my quilts-I ended up quilting all of them. It simply became another part of quilting I enjoyed. With this in mind, my table began to feel small. I had to really pull the quilts up on the side. When I was piecing and pressing, I found I was running out of desk space on larger blocks.
Since my in-laws are staying with us for the winter and spring, I decided to take advantage of my master carpenter father-in-law and finally make this room what I really wanted in terms of style and function. First up we made a cutting table with batting roll storage using Ikea hacks. It is the jumping off point for the vision I had for this room.
The hunt was on for a larger table or desk I could also build out into a sewing desk. I searched at antique shops and even shopped our home. I was talking to a friend who was getting ready to move overseas in a few months with her military husband. She was going to get a smaller lighter table for her family. I had long seen the potential in her beautiful table and offered to buy it when she was ready. Not only was she excited to get rid of it-she was firm on giving it to me since she had scored it at a garage sale 10 years ago.
The great thing about this table is that it is solid oak (we think it is a white oak) and heavy. With my light pine Ikea table when I sewed at maximum speed, I would inadvertently shake the floor. My poor husband could feel the vibrations when he was drawing or painting next to me at his craft desk. With this table, it does not budge at all.
I wanted the majority of the table space on the left side of my machine to support larger quilts but I also wanted a little more space on the right for drinks and sewing notions. Originally we had decided on 12″ but ended up on 10″ so we would not have to cut into the left half . Now I can even insert the middle leaf to make the table larger! But for right now, the 64″x 40″ is just fine and a huge improvement.
Since this table has a leaf, there were two large wooden brackets to support the opening and closing of the table and extra leaf. My father-in-law moved the bracket over before he cut into the table. The left bracket was directly in the middle of the hole below.
We traced my Janome machine on the table top to get the exact shape. We opened the table up and started cutting with the jig-saw. If your table does not have a leaf then you simply drill a large hole so that the jig-saw can be inserted into the table top.
When using a jig-saw it is important to go slow. If this is your first time using one, they are powerful so it is best to practice on a space piece of wood.
My father-in-law wanted it to look like the table was made for this machine (since it was) so he was very careful to even trim 1/8″ off of uneven spots. I made the cuts on my prior Ikea table so they weren’t exact. My father-in-law is a master carpenter and perfectionist so he wanted this to fit like a glove. We did several test fits to make sure it was just right.!
The machine sits right up against the other side of the table. This position will allow me to add the leaf to support even larger quilts. With the leaf the leaf inserted the table extends to 72″!!
The hard part about this table was that my sewing machine actually slopes down. It has a natural angle but I wanted mine to sit flush and flat. That meant building the shelf brackets with two different heights.
My father-in-law reused my old Ikea table shelf system except on one side he used the leaf bracket itself instead of my 2×4 brace. On the other side he used the 2×4 I had ripped down for the other table. The shelf itself was MDF from my old fireplace mantel that I re-built a few years ago (yes I did it. I have been tackling bigger projects over the years).
Down below you can see how the shelf sits on the 2×4 on the right. The angled wood is the table bracket holding the top (we didn’t add that).
The left side of the shelf had to sit lower so we did not use a 2×4 but just the leaf bracket plus a scrap piece of wood. You will need to calculate the depth of your machine and the thickness of the actual table top to see how deep the shelf needs to be.
Here is the shelf underneath once we moved the table inside and set it up.
After ensuring the shelf was the right depth and fit, I started to sand away the old honey colored finish. I knew I wanted it to be dark to match the cutting table with batting storage we made a few weeks ago. I wanted to stain it Early American by Minwax once again. I used a 60 grit sandpaper with my mouse sander.
The grooves took a lot more time but ended up working out great because the sanding removed one of the contour “details” in the end top that I felt was a bit over the top. Now the table feels more simple.
It was taking me a while with my mouse sander so my father-in-law went out and bought me a real belt sander and finished the rest of the table stripping in about the same time it took me to do 1/4!!
We could not decide what sort of wood this table was at first but now we think it is a white oak. It is so solid and heavy but was pieced together like a butcher block top but the grain was really smooth.
The curve on the bottom is for the feed dog switch and the penciled in rectangle is for the power cord. We waited to cut the notch for the cord until after for that precise fit. For my prior table I had just cut a large curve but this ensured that glove fit my father-in-law wanted.
I applied two coats of stain at night in the garage. (Please note that this stain has a strong odor and any vehicles should be parked outside otherwise they might absorb the smell). Unfortunately I forgot to use a wood conditioner or water to open up the pores of the wood before staining. It really does help the stain penetrate evenly. I actually woke up the next morning and it was pretty spotty. I decided to do a third coat of stain and leave it for 40 mins. Usually 15 mins is the max recommended but the stain was having such a hard time penetrating I figured I would be safe. Sure enough, it looked much better once I wiped it down. The only uneven part were the slight grey spots seen below. I looked it up and wood refinish sites said uneven penetration can be buffed in. I buffed the whole table and it worked! The grey spots ended up disappearing.
The stain penetrated well. The color went from splotchy to beautiful deep variations in color that looked like an antique table. It ended up being exactly the look I was hoping to get. Over the years, I have learned that sometimes I just have to keep layering stains, buffing and giving it time to achieve the look I want.
The table was an off white or a darkened ivory. I knew that I wanted it to match my Ikea white so I went with a white enamel paint (extra white) from Sherwin Williams. Even the table legs are solid wood! It ended up taking FOUR coats of paint to cover the darker spots.
You can really see the difference in the white colors once I started painting. The table really came together with that crisp bright color.
I sealed it with a Polycrylic from Minwax. It is their water soluable version in a clear matte finish. I usually go with a satin finish but for my cutting table my father-in-law accidentally bought the matte and it turned out to be a better finish! The matte looks more antique. It has a slight sheen like a well sealed table but is not glossy like a new piece. I could not wait to use the matte on my new table.
Here she is in all her beauty! It turned out better than I had hoped! We had measured the room space to be sure it would fit fine and while the aisles are a bit smaller-it works so well.
The table is solid. I put the binding on a tiny mini quilt and it was so solid that maximum speed was perfectly still. The finish is gorgeous and I can’t believe the space! I normally have my pressing station set up on the left side too with my wool mat. It used to be a bit crowded and now I could not believe the room! The table measures 64×40″ which is really exactly the size I had been searching for.
Here is a close up of the notch for the power cord. It is a perfect fit!
The cherry on top is the custom hole for the knee lifter! When I bought this machine, I only used the knee lifter for a short period of time since I built the table right away. I always meant to make a hole for the knee lifter but never got around to it. Now that I am quilting ever more complicated designs, it was important to me to actually have a way for it to work again. My amazing father-in-law actually nailed the hole the first time and it fits just right.
This angle says it all. My large sewing table opposite my large cutting table. They both match. They are both white with a dark stained top. The walls are a creamy white and room is bright. SO thankful to God for the the blessing of this beautiful space! Thankful to my husband who lets me dream up ideas and execute them and for a talented father-in-law who turned this from a several week project to a several day project with his amazing skills!
This week my Janome and I will be spending some time together and I can’t wait. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think and feel free to ask any questions!
Lulu Moonwood Murakami says
This is so good! Thank you so much for blogging about the whole process. Now, may I please borrow your father-in-law? 😉
ha! He is so helpful. It has been wonderful for such a nice visit and checking off my projects!
Thank you for the detailed tutorial. I would like to do something similar but I have a Bernina and the bobbin case is at the bottom rather than on the top like in your Janome. So if I made this, the bobbin case would be between the table top and the shelf. Any idea how I can solve that problem?
It would be a bit trickier that is for sure. But you could do one of two things. You could completely remove a section of the table top apron (assuming there is one) wide enough to easily switch the bobbin and then instead of doing one long bracket for the shelf-do two small on that side. Or you can get a large circular grommet bit which is for drilling large circles. You could use that to drill a circle in the apron of the table and still do the two smaller brackets with space where the bobbin. I hope this makes sense. Feel free to ask more questions!
Your table is beautiful and so functional. Well done!
Thank you so much Terri!
Thanks for the info! I have a similar table and wish I had a cutout space for my legs while sitting. I’m going to see if my hubby can arrange something without losing the integrity of the tabletop.
Love your quilting room…containers, baskets, theme, etc.
Thank you so much! I appreciate it. It has been a long work in progress but I love how far it has come!
I love the look of this. I’m in the process of getting a new sewing space, so I’m gathering ideas for my sewing table. If you need to change out the switch plate, or clean the machine, I assume you have to lift it out?