Thursday, 28 April 2011

Taking some pain out of cutting out!

Until recently I used to have to do all my cutting out on our kitchen table. This wasn’t ideal – our kitchen table is oval, so the fabric would flop off the corners and I had to keep running up and down the stairs to fetch stuff I needed from the bedroom, where I do my sewing. Also, I am an enthusiastic cook so cutting fine fabrics amongst the beef and red wine casserole or dark chocolate fudge cake was always high risk. Food stains on fabric – very frustrating!

What I really wanted, of course, is a Horn HiLo Hobby Table but have you seen the price - it’s £719 (about US $1,200) – yikes! Until I can afford one of these (note to self – buy a lottery ticket), I thought I would find myself something a little more reasonably priced. In the UK there don’t seem to be many other options for tables specifically marketed as sewing tables but a trawl around the internet found this on Amazon

It is sold as a trestle table for dining and cost me £49.99 (about US $83) plus £5.00 shipping. It is very sturdy. When open it measures about 72 x 30 inches, so that 60 inch fabric folded in half for cutting fits on it. It collapses down to only 4 inches wide so it can be stored underneath my bed.

I also bought, for about £10, a set of plastic risers which can easily be slipped under each of the legs to raise the height of the table by about 4 inches to reduce back strain. Cutting out is not my favourite part of the sewing process so I am really pleased to have found something that makes the job a bit easier. What about you – have you found yourself the perfect cutting out table or are you happy enough to use the living room floor?


Sitting on my cutting table at the moment is the pair of jeans that I mentioned, in my last post, that I was making. The photograph above gives you a sneak peak. Yes, they’re purple! I thought that if I am going to make myself a pair of jeans, why not be a little adventurous? This could be a mistake? We’ll have to see.

In the meantime, here in London, you may have heard that there is a wedding taking place. We are all gearing ourselves up for wedding hoopla and, of course, the big question is what will Kate’s dress look like? We have a holiday long weekend and London is full of bunting and souvenirs and party plans. I didn’t think I cared much but now I seem to have got the fever and am planning to glue myself to the television tomorrow!

31 comments:

  1. Purple jeans! You go girl! I'd love to see how your jeans turn out, I'm a bit leery of trying to make them with that thick material and flat felled seams. I'm sure your version will be fab!

    Enjoy that crazy wedding, here in California it comes on in the middle of the night and I really don't get it. Good luck to 'em...

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  2. Ooh, now that table is worth knowing about. I also cut out on an oval table and it can a pain in the derriere. Did you buy the uprisers from Amazon, also?

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  3. I used a table like yours for years and it works wonderfully - especially if you can leave it up because you'll find all kinds of other uses for a work island while sewing.

    LOVE the purple jeans. YES YES.

    The wedding is on at three in the morning or something like that here. I'm working until nine tonight, having a nap, and then watching it. I watched Chuck & Di's wedding too. There aren't too many chances to see fairy princesses. It's just fun although I'd hate for my life to be such a fishbowl.

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  4. Thanks Eugenia, this information is quite timely. I cut all my fabric on the floor, so I always have to relax my muscles after every cutting session I wonder if it can be used for a sewing table as well. That way I can spare my family the torment of watching TV Spartacus while listening to the sweet music coming from my sewing machine.

    I seem to be the only one not affected by the royal wedding. I plan on sewing myself crazy this weekend. I for one, will turn the TV to XFM while navigating the murky waters of Simplicty pattern instructions.

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  5. That's the very same thing I use! I got mine at the local hardware store, put some blocks under, and it's been great!

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  6. I use to cut on the floor which was a bad idea. The getting up and bending down was just too much for me. so I invested in a folding melamine banquet table that is 96" in length from staples. It has made my life so much easier.

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  7. Sometimes I cut out my fabric on the floor, and most of the time I cut out on the dining room table. It is very exhausting and tightens up my muscles. I have to take little breathers to stretch. I dream of another option one day. I remember watching Charles and Diana's wedding. It was so magical. I can't wait to see Kate's dress. I'm sure she will look so amazing.

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  8. Nice craft table. Handy that it folds away too. I like the idea of purple jeans, I am looking forward to seeing how they turn out.

    There is plenty of wedding hoopla around here too. The kids have done nothing but wedding related craft project for the last three days at school and tomorrow there is a party at the end of my close. It's lots of of fun and nice to see people unashamedly waving the flag and feeling good about being British. It reminds me of back home in America! :-)

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  9. I have that same style of table as my cutting table! It works much better than the kitchen table!

    I am super jealous of the wedding hoopla that is going on over there. However, my friends and I will be staying up all night to watch it!

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  10. That cutting table looks cool... At least it's portable. Nice! The purple jeans is so cool. I am looking forward to seeing it.

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  11. I've had one of these on my spend list for a bit. I think they are a really good idea and as you say considerably cheaper than the Horn.

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  12. What a clever idea to raise the height with plastic risers! I know, isn't sewing furniture just outrageously priced? It seems you have to pay at least $1,000US to get something decent.

    Fingers crossed for good weather in London tomorrow. I'll be watching here in NY.

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  13. For years I used the top of my chest freezer as a cutting table. It dwells in a dark corner of the basement. The cat would jump up and "help" me by batting pattern pieces, fabric and shears onto the floor. Now I am upstairs, in the light, on the dining room table, in a room with a door that the cat cannot open by himself. Have fun watching the wedding tomorrow!

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  14. I would annex the dining table as a teenager for my sewing projects, thank goodness my mother was understanding. So to this day I use one of the best presents I ever receieved; a folding malamine table on casters that at one time also held four folding chairs - since given to my mummy who has a use for them. At almost 30 years old, that table is still going strong!

    Now, the table is always in up-mode and I keep on its' top a fold-out cardboard cutting surface. I've used these since I was in grade school. The rotary cutting surfaces are neat but are pretty slippery and the cardboard extends my cutting surface. If it gets grungy or tweaked, it gets recycled.

    Something else about the cardboard. Because I don't have a fancy sewing studio I don't have a cork top cutting table - if you've ever used one you'll feel sad doing without. Anyway, I can pin through my fabric to the cardboard when I'm straightening grain, when tracing off patterns and to keep my table from getting nicks.

    Sorry for the long comment. Reading your post about your new table got me all excited about what a positive difference one made for me too.

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  15. I have made two cutting tables (because of moving) but they have both been made at a height just for cutting. So much better on my back!
    The first one was a kitchen sink cabinet put on rollers (which made it a good height for me) and a hardwood 4X8 top covered in an old wool army blanket and then duck. The duck was put on with velcro so that it could be washed. Later I used the cabinet in my kitchen so I made another cutting table.
    This time I used an old dresser. To make the top the right height I used heavy angle irons mounted on the top of the dresser. It made a good storage space between the bottom of the top and the top of the dresser. I store all my ironing aids in this space. It is also covered with the wool and duck. But, because of my space it is only 3X5.
    This makes a great cutting and ironing area. But I must admit there are times I still have to use the floor when I am cutting out a formal or the large pieces of a couch slip cover.

    I have a pair of purple jeans and love them. A great reason to make new tops!

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  16. Great table---and it's pretty nifty that it easily stores away! Can't wait to see your purple jeans.

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  17. That looks like a great table for cutting - and great you can fold it up and hide it under the bed! At home I just use the kitchen table or the floor, but my knees are getting a bit old for that now!
    The wedding is on this evening here in NZ - I can't wait to see Kate's dress!!

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  18. Great table Eugenia! I have one that is similar to yours, my hubby used it when he would travel to conventions to set his books on display. Well, he has not had to use it for a while, so he kindly donated it to me. I LOVE it because cutting/marking are my least favorite to do!

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  19. I solved a similar problem to yours in a different way. I used my bed for cutting. I used a folding cutting board. I laid it on my bed, and sat in my rolling computer chair to cut. I moved the board or my chair to make the fabric accessible, and pinned the project into the cardboard cutting board and sometimes through into the mattress as well if the fabric was heavy. I now have an old cutting counter from a closed fabric shop. I miss having the cardboard to pin into. You may want to use this method if you need to cut out something very large.
    I love to read your blog!

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  20. What a great idea to put the risers under it!

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  21. These are great tables. I have been using one as my sewing table for quite some time. I do however use my ktichen table for cutting as it is wider than the 'trestle' table and also a bit higher. Good idea to put the risers under it although I am short so not much of an issue for me.

    Just love the idea of purple jeans!

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  22. Your back is going to feel so much better.

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  23. Love your table Eugenia! I read your post in Blue Jean class about your purple jeans and can't wait to see them. I love that color purple, it so rich looking! I just completed mine and posted them in class. I'll be posting them on my blog soon. I wanted to complete them in time for the "Bottoms Up" challenge. I'll be anxiously waiting to see yours too!!!

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  24. Thought of you today...so excited to see the wedding! I am waking at 4 am with my daughters!! Can't wait.

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  25. I think your cutting table solution is wonderful. I finally put together my own dream sewing table a few years ago so I understand how having a great table helps this go so much easier and faster!

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  26. Great table - being able to fold so flat is ideal. I bought an Ikea gateleg table (Norden) a while ago which folds up to a thin size but also has drawers which are useful for putting out all your scissors and pins and stuff in. But it is a bit low so I love your idea of risers. It can be a bit backbreaking bending over a dining height table if you are doing a lot of cutting out can't it.

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  27. I love that the table can be folded up so easily. I had mine on risers but took them out last year so the table was the same height as my sewing table. Now that I'm being more productive I may have to put them back - my back is starting to notice the difference!

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  28. I used a table like that for a while.
    On Joann's website, there is a cutting table @ 129.00
    not sure how it would work ordering from the UK.

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  29. I have an inexpensive cutting table from Joanns and it totally changed my sewing world. I'm glad that you were able to find a cheaper alternative to the pricey table.

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  30. I've just bought one of these tables and it's an excellent idea! (Also the purple jeans are fab!) Just wondering where you got the risers from (I live in the UK too)?

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  31. Hi Make Me Over. Thanks for stopping by. I bought the bed risers on Amazon (just put bed risers into the search box). They're handy things to have to save on backache!

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