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The basic requirements for a good sewing area are

  1. A table for cutting and handling material
  2. A table for a sewing machine
  3. A good chair without arms
  4. A good iron (preferably a steam iron) and ironing board for pressing
  5. Storage space
  6. A full length mirror
  7. Good natural and artificial lighting
  8. A dressmaker’s dummy, though not essential, can be very handy.

A good cutting table is about 1,2 m by 2 m and 80 cm high but, depending on available space, this can be reduced. If space is lacking you could make a foldaway table. (See: Foldaway table). If this is sturdily made it can double as a table for your sewing machine.

If, because of space limitations, you have to cut on the dining room table or even a bed it is a good idea to have a cutting board to protect the table top and to provide a firm surface for cutting, pinning and measuring. A very nice cutting board can be made from Supawood which does not need a lot of sanding and varnishing, but this is heavy. Chipboard can also be used but has to be well sanded, sealed with a sanding sealer and varnished with at least two coats of a good polyurethane varnish. If the board is to be used on the dining room table a few strips of thin felt should be glued to its underside.

A standard “bed-board” can be bought from your hardware dealer or wood supplier, thus your cutting board can be stored under your mattress and double as a mattress support.

Pine cupboards which are good and relatively cheap can be bought to serve as storage space. One can be partitioned to take the ironing board and the shelves set aside for other sewing items. A full length mirror can be fitted to the inside of one of the doors. This cupboard could also store your dressmaker’s dummy.

The sewing machine should have its own separate, sturdy table about 70 cm high. If the table is unsteady it can be hard on the eyes and even break the sewing machine’s lamp filament.

Various plastic trays are available which are ideal for storing cotton reels, things like scissors, pinking shears and quick unpicks, and various other small bits and pieces. Small items are easier to find if they are stored in shallow drawers or trays. Patterns should always be stored upright. That way they stay in better shape and are easier to find if they are filed with their numbers on top.

A very nice compact unit for both sewing machine and overlocker can be built. (See : Project)