If you've thought about upgrading your sewing table situation but didn't know where to start — and you're a Type A personality who loves to do research and make lists — this sewing table buying guide is especially for you.
(If you're a Type B personality who's a more laid back, you probably won't get as psyched about this exhaustive guide. But it'll probably still be just as useful in your relaxed search for the ideal sewing table.)
No matter who you are, in this sewing table buying guide, you will discover:
- The three basic questions to ask yourself BEFORE you start shopping
- How to evaluate sewing table/cabinet options in four different categories
- Mini reviews of sewing cabinets and tables from eight popular brands
Whether you're thinking about a massive sewing table or a petite rolling sewing cabinet, this sewing table buying guide will help you think critically about a big decision for your sewing practice!
This post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no additional cost to you.
Why I wrote a sewing table buying guide
The answer is simple: I'm getting a proper sewing table in 2017! This sewing table buying guide is my research for my new sewing room table.
My sewing machine currently sits in my home office on a MCM-style kitchen table that's three feet square. The table is very sturdy, with a laminate top and bent-steel legs.
My little table has been great, but I want a new sewing table for several reasons:
- I'd like a table at an ergonomically friendly height. The height of my current sewing machine table sometimes makes long stretches of sewing uncomfortable.
- I'd like a table that lets me keep more tools at hand. I keep most of my gear in plastic boxes in the office closet.
- I'd like a table with a leaf for sewing larger projects. A leaf would help me in the fight against gravity.
- I'd like a table that lets me do flat-bed sewing. A flush sewing surface is especially important for quilting.
My handy husband
and I plan to design and build a sewing table. We're looking for a challenge and like working together. Plus, I want control over all aspects of the table.
Understanding what's on the market has helped me decide which features are most important to my sewing practice. Please take my research and apply it to your unique sewing needs!
The No. 1 question to ask when buying a sewing machine table
Where you sew will help you answer the most critical question: Do I need a sewing table or a sewing cabinet?
If you have a sewing room, a sewing cabinet could be a good choice for you. Sewing cabinets (generally) are more substantial pieces of furniture. They tend to have a permanent home in your home.
If you don't have a sewing room, a sewing table may work better for your needs. Many (but not all) sewing tables are compact and have wheels, making them easy to scoot around and store when not in use.
Regardless of whether you're eyeing a table or a cabinet, review the sewing furniture's dimensions before putting down cash! You don't want to end up with something too big — or too small.
And don't forget to review your sewing chair situation, too. A poor setup can make sewing physically uncomfortable!
The No. 2 question to ask when buying a sewing machine table
What you sew will help you answer the second-most-critical question about buying sewing cabinets and tables: Do I do more flat-bed or free-arm sewing?
If you're a garment sewist, free-arm sewing likely is important to your work. A free arm makes easy work of sewing sleeve cuffs and pants hems — the narrow stuff.
If you're a quilter, flat-bed sewing likely is more important to you. In flat-bed sewing, the arm is flush with the sewing table surface. Flat-bed sewing is important for quilters because it keeps big projects on the same plane as the sewing machine — instead of being pulled by gravity from the arm to the table surface.
The No. 3 question to ask when buying a sewing machine table
It's probably the most obvious question: What's my budget?
The indispensable checklist:
What to consider when buying sewing cabinets and tables
After you've reflected on where you sew and what you sew, use this handy checklist to evaluate sewing room cabinets and sewing room tables.
I separated the sewing table and cabinet checklist into four categories:
2.) Storage capabilities
3.) Construction details
4.) Getting sewing furniture home
1.) Sewing table and cabinet features
If you're leaning toward a significant furniture-style sewing unit, check:
- Design options. What's your home decor style? Modern? Shabby chic? Country? Pick a piece of sewing furniture that reflects your aesthetic.
- Furniture features. Examine drawers, doors, hardware, feet, and more. These details can add to (or detract from) the upscale feel of a sewing unit.
- Covert operations. How do work surfaces fold and shut to conceal sewing activity? How important is this feature to you?
If you'd like your sewing machine to sit inside
a table or cabinet, check:
- Compatibility. Certain sewing cabinets and tables don't accept certain machine models.
- Shelf adaptability. Can the shelf for the sewing machine adjust for different machine heights?
- Lift mechanism. If the shelf is adjustable, how does it move up and down (e.g., pneumatic lift)?
- Inserts. Are there inserts for flat-bed sewing (e.g., to make a flush surface)?
If you're leaning toward a smaller portable sewing furniture unit, check:
- Mobility. Does the unit have casters (and do they lock)?
- Compactness. How big is the table's footprint?
- Storage ability. Does it fold up or otherwise reduce its footprint for storage?
These table/cabinet features will make your sewing more productive and enjoyable:
- Rounded corners and edges. Prevent sewing projects from snagging on sharp corners.
- Gridded surface. Take measurements at your work surface and square up.
- Ironing cover. Turn your work surface into a pressing station.
- Edge ruler. Stay in your seat to use a ruler.
- Centered needle. Sitting centered in front of the needle is more comfortable than sitting centered in front of the whole machine.
2.) Sewing table and cabinet storage capabilities
Check whether the sewing table/cabinet has:
- Drawers and cabinets. Store sewing essentials and your sewing machine in the same place.
- Baskets and trays. Give your notions and tools a home. (Sidebar: As a sewist, you can't have too many baskets and trays.)
- A recessed surface tray. Corral gear at surface level.
- Cutting mat storage. Vertical or horizontal storage is OK.
- Thread storage. Can't sew without thread; might as well keep it nearby.
- Ribbon and/or stabilizer storage. Rods store notions that come on a roll.
- Coordinating storage units. Some tables and cabinets have matching mini cabinets and shelving units.
3.) Sewing table and cabinet construction details
When it comes to how
it's built and how to
build it, check:
- Materials. Is it made of laminate, solid wood, or something else? Each has its pros and cons.
- Work surface. The work surface likely will take abuse. What will the surface look like when that inevitably happens?
- Sturdiness. Sewing machines are heavy, and they create vibrations, which can shake a not-so-sturdy table or cabinet. Related: How heavy a machine can the table/cabinet support?
- Extensions. Table/cabinet leaves are useful, especially for quilters. Look for snag-free hinges and robust leaf supports.
- Assembly. Will it come built, or is some/all assembly required? What's more: Most sewists are women. If you're getting a massive sewing table or cabinet, how difficult will it be for a smaller human to move table pieces and put them together? How long will assembly take? Is there a help line for assembly questions?
- Hardware and tools. Is hardware included? What tools (e.g., hex key) are included, and what tools must you have on hand?
- Table neighbors. Can the table/cabinet accommodate multiple machines, e.g., a sewing machine and a serger?
It's likely you won't need all these features in one sewing cabinet or sewing table. (Could you imagine?!? I'm not sure if it'd be awesome or a monstrosity.) It's good, however, to consider what's out there.
4.) Getting sewing furniture home
Following are questions you'd ask about any new piece of furniture:
- If you're bringing it home, do you need to rent a truck? Take out the kids' car seats and put down the back seat? Borrow a trailer?
- If bringing it home yourself isn't an option, what's the cost of delivery?
- How are you getting this unit into your house if it's big? You plus helpful neighbors? Beefcake husband? Squad of sewing pals?
- Where are you going to assemble your new sewing table or cabinet? Do you need to protect the floors or walls while putting it together or moving it to its final home?
Shopping for the best sewing machine table: Comparing options
Now you've got some ideas about which features make the best sewing machine table and how much you'd like to spend. Let's look at eight sewing tables and cabinets from popular brands (in alphabetical order).
Arrow Gidget I Sewing Table (601)
This table has a melamine work surface, and the legs fold up for easy storage. You can do flat-bed or free-arm sewing, thanks to an adjustable platform. Watch the surprising video on this table's Amazon page
to see how sturdy it is. $121.99-$174.99 via different sellers on Amazon.
Fashion Sewing Cabinets of America 5200 Sewing Cabinet
Fashion Sewing Cabinets calls this its "Ultimate Sew & Serge Credenza." It features an electric lift, two supported leaves, and an interior power strip. Take this unit to the next level by adding the optional ironing board. $1,821 from Ken's Sewing Center.
Horn of America Compact Sewing Cabinet (2130)
This cabinet is available in four finishes — white, oak, beech, and cherry — and features soft edges with a melamine work surface. The cabinet has tool and notion bins in the door and a three-position (storage, flat-bed sewing, free-arm sewing) air-lift shelf for a sewing machine. The cabinet's width, when the leaf is open, is 47 3/4 inches. $1,147.50 MSRP; see a local dealer to buy.
IKEA Norden Gateleg Table
IKEA doesn't have an official sewing table/cabinet. But this blog post from Make It Cozee
shows how Norden could be a good option if you'd like something with a small footprint AND storage. Add casters and (bad joke alert) you're on a roll! (P.S. Check out Pinterest
and IKEA Hackers
for even more sewing table ideas!) $199 from IKEA.
Kangaroo Kabinets Bandicoot Sewing Cabinet
When you buy this cabinet, you gain access to a toll-free help line that can answer assembly questions. It holds up to a 45-pound sewing machine and features a gas strut mechanism to adjust for for flat-bed or free-arm sewing. There's interior storage for books, spools, and fabric. $495-$675 via different sellers on Amazon.
Sauder Sewing Craft Cart
This cart has an 4.5-star average over 750-plus reviews on Amazon. You can get it in two finishes — white or cherry. With the leaf open, the work surface is 62 1/4 inches, and the cart features an interior (non-adjustable) shelf for a sewing machine. $112.88-$204.16 via different sellers on Amazon.
Schrocks of Walnut Creek Sewing Machine/Serger Duo Cabinet
This cabinet is made of cherry and features mortise and tenon joinery and tongue and groove shelving. It's custom made upon order, and there are optional custom-shaped inserts available for most sewing machines. There's a matching three-drawer caddy
($920) that fits under the cabinet work surface. $1,960 from SewVacDirect.
Tailormade Compact Sewing Cabinet
For flat-bed sewing, this cabinet offers custom-sized acrylic inserts for most sewing machines. The cart comes fully assembled, save for casters, handles, and accessory storage. The cabinet also has a touch-release air lift. $599 from my local dealer; contact your local dealer for their price.
Other brands that came up in my research include (links go to product pages):
When you don't know where to start, sometimes having a few brand names is a good way to kick off a fact-finding mission.
Over to you: What are you looking for in a sewing table or cabinet? How can I improve this sewing table buying guide? If you own a sewing table or cabinet, what was your selection process? What's been your experience with different sewing table/cabinet brands? Please share in comments for the benefit of other sewists! Thanks!
P.S. In case you hadn't noticed, I LOVE sharing sewing insight! If you like this sewing table buying guide, you might want to check out these other blog posts:
53 gifts for sewists: The ultimate guide to gifts for sewing lovers
Anorak sewing pattern guide: 3 popular jackets, side by side
Sewing DIY ebook: How to make a flying geese block pillow
P.P.S. In case you're interested, these are the best-selling sewing cabinets on Amazon as of December 2016:
1.) Sauder Sewing Craft Cart in Soft White, $127.65
2.) Arrow Sewing Cabinets 601 Gidget, Sewing Table, White, from $121.99
Labels: buying guide, sewing cabinet, sewing cabinets and tables, sewing cart, sewing desk, sewing machine table, sewing table