« Productivity | Main | Lorna's Laces scheming »

March 14, 2008


From my last post and the (very helpful!) comments that followed, I conclude the following:

  • In a crafty family, no one ever eats at the dining room table. If Mr. Sweetness and I are ever lucky enough to have a dining room in addition to an eat-in kitchen, we will stop the charade and arrange it for its proper purpose (office, craft space, etc.) from the get go.
  • Above-desk (or couch, or bed) shelving is an awesome idea. I will have to make sure my next landlord allows wall-mounted shelves (the current one doesn't).
  • I must have this sewing/craft cart from Sauder.

I love that the whole thing is on casters, so it can be stored in the closet, or the kitchen, and then rolled to the living room for crafting. I love that there's a dedicated storage space for the sewing machine, but that the machine's position is not fixed on the tabletop - I can move it forward and back, right and left, depending on my project.

  • Talking about my lack of sewing productivity propels me to sew! Even with the disadvantage of having to miss my sewing class yesterday! (stupid MBTA Red Line)

I finished the three zippered pouches which have been sitting on my desk for a week! (item #9 in last entry's photograph)

I pieced together the 5 rows which make up the String Quilt Set on Point!

And today I plan to finish putting together the quilt top! Though I'm realizing that this will be very tricky, having to line up all the fabric intersections at once... Hmmm... Any advice?

Posted by Kathy on March 14, 2008 10:15 AM


We've never used our dining room for its stated purpose - we have a table in the kitchen we can eat at, and the "dining room" has been a library, and most currently an office. Much better use of the space for us.

And I love that sewing cabinet!! Must have!

Up until the beginning of the year, the husband and I pretended that we could keep our interests under control and that they weren't spilling into every room in the house. I'm a knitter, he collects and fixes up full-sized arcade machines. I kid you not. But after the New Year we fessed up to reality, and I claimed the spare bedroom as my craft room and he took over the entire garage. We might not have anywhere to park the cars and he had to stuff his desk into the already crowded living room, but we are so much happier.

the bags are wonderful...I've got a horn cabinet for my machine that does the same thing, slightly smaller than the one you are looking at but definitely makes a huge difference.

For putting the strips together...pins are your friend! When you put the right sides facing together, look at the the intersections of each of the individual squares in the strip and place a pin thru the two strips at the join to help line them up. If you are using 1/4" seams then you could place them a little bit past that, where ever the sewing foot won't catch them. Then place pins along the length of the entire strip to help hold them in place. It takes some time, but I've found it really helps when I need to get the intersections to line up. The good thing is that your fabrics are so colorful if you are a bit off it won't be as noticeable as if you were working with all solids. I think Denyse Schmidt's book has a great picture of how to do this.

Hope this helps!

Hmm, you're making me want to sew some more. I should clean off my craft table this weekend :)

Advice? Yes: save the wine for after the sewing.

Definitely pins at the intersections like Mari suggested. My (very beginner) understanding of sewing and quilting is that you can never use too many pins.

good luck with the sewing together of the quilt, it looks great so far.
i LOVE that fabric with the big red flowers on the white background that is on the inside of the black pouch!

I have a Horn cabinet. Mine is the one designed for quilters so it has a huge working area when it's fully opened. I dream of the time when I can use it like that, when the children have left home.

Hubby bought this for me and it's one of his better gifts. I would sooner have crafting goodies than jewellery, flowers, chocolates etc.

My advice, like others, pin, pin, pin.

I KNEW IT! You were wearing an orange shirt yesterday, weren't you? I saw you on the train, the one that wasn't actually moving anyone to anyplace they needed to be ;) Nice to kinda meet you! I nearly went up and said "hello", but I figured no one was in the mood to chat about anything while having to deal with the crappy train ride. Anyways, hi!

I've got that exact cabinet pictured, and I LOVE it! We live in a very small apartment, and I don't have space for a computer desk and a crafting desk and a sewing table. So I just have the one. I move the sewing machine to the side, put the laptop on top, and voila! It's a computer desk! Move the sewing machine front and center, open the cabinet, and I'm set to sew! Move the sewing machine aside, grab my boxes of papers and stamps, and I'm ready for crafting! It wouldn't be a good long-term solution for someone with a lotta-lotta stuff (since the desk doesn't have a lot of storage space), but it's perfect for me :-) I use the sewing machine shelf underneath for additional fabric storage :-)

Whoa. That sewing cart looks awesome!

I have a sewing cart very similar to that one. My husband got it for me at Wal-mart. It is awesome. I don't have any rooms left in my house for a craft room. I keep it in my back hallway and when I want to use it I just roll it in to the kitchen. When I finsh I just roll it back out of the way. I love it!!

I have a suggestion for the sewing machine-needy, yet financially challenged among us. About 7 years ago I got a fabulous Bernina (about $2k retail) for just $300. Where, you say? PAWN shop--my husband collects music CD's and frequents them, so I gave him my order. I could not believe the bargain. You must have tons where you live; you could even call ahead to see if they have any. You never know!!

That cabinet is DEFINITELY a must have. I think I need one too!

I'm so glad you brought up the storage/crafty space idea. I've really enjoyed reading the responses - I can't wait to make my home more craft friendly.

Also, the quilt fabrics are totally fun!

What a handy looking sewing cart!

I love the idea of a sewing cart, but I am waiting until we have enough saved up to buy a house. We have planned space for a craft room built into the New House plan.

Pins are a quilter's best friend. Folks above are saying it and I'm reinforcing it.

Put right sides together, then put a pin at *EVERY* intersection. Start by doing this perpendicular to the direction of sewing, then put additional beyond the width of the presser foot, and PARALLEL to the direction of sewing. If you only pin in the direction of the sewing, the fabric *will* move slightly along the length of the pin and you have a chance for misalignment.

I leave the perpendicular pins in and sew over them, but if you fear this, just sew until the foot is over the pin, stop, lift the presser foot, remove the pin, confirm the fabric is where you want it, lower the foot and sew away.

Good luck - and don't worry if it's not exact!

Many, many years ago, I found plans for something like the Sauder cabinet and when my DH was away for 6 months, a girlfriend & I each made one working together. It was very handy, but not particularly handsome. I learnt a lot about woodwork, doing it.

Pressing the back will help a lot.


I have a Koala cabinet, it is the bomb.

Try using a walking foot with your sewing machine if you have one. And of course, pin, pin, pin.

The pouches are adorable and the string quilt is looking great.

I took a string quilt class, and we put sashing between the blocks, so no matching!

Pins, pins and more pins! When you lay your pieces right side to right side, you can "feel" the fabric lines lining up together. Use pin and sew the side with less give on top so you can gently stretch it a bit.

Cute pouches!

well gee...you already have the blocks sewn into rows! sewing one row to another is not much more work than sewing one block to another.
it is very helpful to have the seams on each row of blocks pressed in opposite directions. it makes the blocks snuggle into each other at their intersections. i would pin the rows together at the top/bottom of each block, and again in the center of each block, where the acute angles of the triangles meet. even when the seam is not exactly perfect, when you look at, it will appear to be perfect.
right now, my dining room table is covered with fabric, an applique block, a small pressing board and iron, my swift and ball winder and some yarn. (and i have a sewing room besides!)
who eats in the dining room?

Beautiful fabric & bags. I agree that cart is very ingenious and creative!

Also, I just got in to Cambridge last night and will be here for almost a week! My best friend and I plan to make a LYS crawl on Saturday--I've been to Woolcott since it's right near her school--any other suggestions?

yay for productivity!

Seconding what Dana said -- when the blocks interlock, the rows go together *so* much easier. Plus it helps to keep your seams from getting super bulky where all the corners come together.

For this quilt follow all of the pin advice posted previously. However, for the future, if you sew your quilt blocks into groups of 4, then sew those groups of 4 into groups of 4 (now you have 16) etc. you will have fewer seams to match each time and less bulk until the end (especially important in a small work area). You will end up with two halves and be done with it. When looking for a cabinet or building one keep in mind that a flat surface is essential for quilting, so be sure you can set the machine into the cabinet as well as on top. Great quilt!!!

Accuracy, accuracy, accuracy. The pins are the way to go. "God is in the details" - I don't know how this translates to other ways of thinking but I am sure every culture will have its proverbs. Accuracy so that you don't have too much of a ripping time.

For those wanting sewing things - with our lack of non-homecare generation,for sewing machines or sewing notions, opportunity shops for deceased estate goodies. We ended up thinking of giving our 1958 Singer machine from my mother's estate to depot for third world distribution.

I have looked at that sewing table too. I like it for all the reasons you mentioned. I also really like this one. http://www.sauder.com/furniture/product.asp?p=473

I believe you can get the Sauder sewing cabinet from Walmart. At least, that is where I got mine. Just a heads up, though. It is REALLY heavy, so bring some helpers with you to load and unload.

...what dana said. press the seams in opposite directions so you aren't sewing through tons of fabric. That tends to "pull" the seams out of alignment. pin the LIVING HOLY CRAP out of it. Don't pin it all at once. be patient, and only think to the next join. If you screw up (and you're like me) rip it back THEN cause it will only just bother you always if you leave it.

get the thinnest pins you can, pin perpendicularly to your seamline that you're sewing, and just sew right over the pins. take them out later.

Make sure you're not tugging the fabric "down" over the front of your sewing machine (another lesson I learned the hard way) because it will stretch the fabric on both sides of the seam unevenly and one will pull when you're done. If you have to ease a seam, just pull on the one that needs to be longer, and make sure you're pulling straight back.

Not that I've ever screwed up a quilt. nope. nuh-uh.

Oh, and if you get that cabinet? It's cute, but remember not to have illusions that either A) the sewing machine will ever be put away on its cute little drawer; or B) you will ever be able to get the sewing machine *off* the cute little drawer, because the top of that cabinet is a flat surface, and flat surfaces are entropy sinks leading us one piece of junk mail at a time toward the heat death of the universe. Just sayin.

That cart is the coolest thing I've ever seen. I must have one!

Yeah, I'm sitting in our "dining room". It has my computer desk and my husband's drum set in it. Bookshelves, CD shelves, a plant and a litter box. I sometimes wish we had a nicer place to sit, but it may happen when we remodel the kitchen...

I am feeling incredibly lucky to have my own dedicated sewing/crafting/computing space . . . but I did the kitchen table thing for years.

Joining in the chorus of Pins, and Pressing, and Taking Your Time, and Saving the Wine for After, and enjoy! Crafting is a high like no other. Well, there are other Highs, but crafting lasts longer! ;-)

That table is awesome! Perfect for tucking away your sewing stuff and making a tabletop for when you need it.

I have that sewing table! I like it very much...

LOVE the table on castor's! Looks ideal for anyone!

Nice quit very colorful!

That's the exact sewing table I have. I love love LOVE it. It serves as my sewing table, my dyeing workspace, my photo studio, and a million other things. Those uh.. pockets? shelves? whatever they're called that hang on the door are so incredibly useful to stash all those odds and ends you're constantly reaching for. And unlike most other stuff out there - this is amazingly designed to be perfect for the left handed person (which I am)

I got mine at walmart a few years ago for $199 I think.. and I'm pretty sure they still have it. And it's held up well so far!

I NEED one of those sewing cabinets...
The Poppy lining in the pouch in the middle is adorable!

IKEA for stand-alone shelving! This is a great resource for inexpensive, yet sleek shelving units, etc.

happy shopping & organizing,

Think twice before getting that cabinet; or at the least make sure you try it out by sitting at it!

I have a sewing cabinet very similar to that one and I love everything about it BUT the wall on the left side; the opening that you "sit" in to sew should be either larger or more to the left; especially when one is working on large quilts. I find it annoying. It's not that it isn't large enough, but that it feels like it's not centered properly. I bump my leg into it.

Is this because I'm left handed? Maybe; all I know is I'd like to have the opening a little more open on the left side.

Perhaps you can move your machine farther right to compensate, but mine not really possible with my cabinet.

I have that exact desk and just love it. It is portable and closes up when I am finished. I also sometimes use it as a desk when sitting at my lap top. It doesn't look bad once closed and kinda blends in with the rest of the furniture.

Just a random thought - storage above your work table - would an over the toilet storage cabinet fit - er stradle your table? Kind of random, but there are some such cabinets that are't to dorky to use - and the added benefit would be the shelving on top of the unit, the closed doors for clutter and often a shelf uner the cabinet. And you could add hooks on eiter side for hanging an assortment of stuff... Just a thought when you can't affix stuff to the walls of a rental place.

Since we gave back the dining room furniture, our DR is now the crafty area :) Lots of sun, near the TV, etc.
I almost bought other Sauder furniture, but the quality is actually not that great. I haven't looked at that unit in real life, but the price is good...as long as you're not expecting an heirloom piece. If my sewing room was more hidden (like, as in, a real room, LOL) I'd get it (but not let my husband know cause he doesn't like Sauder stuff). LOL.

I always pin at each seam intersection when piecing a quilt top. And don't forget to go slow - you'll definitely end up needing to fudge a little with so many seams.

And don't forget to breathe!

I'm not qualified to comment on the quilt side of things, but I can comment on the cabinet.

They are great for storage, and pretty great to work at. Just remember, as Kat said, to try and sit at it before you buy it. Make sure it's high/low enough for you to work out comfortably.

The Sauder craft/sewing cabinet is a great price at Walmart right now: $75 on clearance at the Walmarts in my area, so if you are interested, this is a good time to get a bargain! I have Sauder furniture in my sewing room here: http://yankeegirlsue.typepad.com/blog/2007/11/mission-organiz.html. It's quite sturdy and surprisingly attractive for knock-down stock.

I'm moving from a large home with a dedicated sewing room to a townhouse where I'll have the corner of a bedroom for my machine. Thanks for bringing this cabinet to our attention. I went out and got one tonight!

I did the dining room thing for years. Eventually I realized it was making me hate sewing! All my stuff was in everyone's way all the time and it made it impossible to keep the main living area of the house clean.

I've since moved everything to the laundry room - wool stash, pattern books included. I Love It! Its my room, its already dedicated to fabric and fibre. I don't have to move the ironing board from there to the sewing machine.

I even have a little coffee and tea making set up down there and with the dryer and the furnace in there on its usually the warmest place in the house in the wintertime!

This may be a bit too cutesy, but I was just thinking, it would be fun to do a traditional spool block (http://www.quilterscache.com/S/SpoolBlock.html) using a string quilt square for the thread part. Very nice btw!

I just got an email today that that cart is 30% off with free shipping from Joann.com

Happy Shopping!!!!

I ended up getting this sewing machine table, it folds down small, has drawers and you can build the drawers on the left or right. I also use that fold down cutting tale from Jo-Anns.

To cut down on spam, comments are moderated. You may not see your comment right away, but rest assured that it's been received and will appear shortly. Comments are closed a few days after posting.