Saturday, January 7, 2012

Cutting/Pressing Table Tutorial

Every January I re-cover my workroom table.  This is the table I do all my measuring, cutting, pinning and pressing on.  This is my DO ALL table!  I can lay out large pieces of fabric on this table and align the selvage  with the edge and know that I am cutting across it straight.  I can cut on it with out breaking my back.  I pin directly into it to keep fabric still while I'm working with it, and I can press everything on it.  In fact I don't own an ironing board.   Because I'm a drapery and window treatment workroom I require a really LARGE table 60" wide x 140" long.  I couldn't live without this table.  Now I know most of you will never have a need for such a large workroom table, but I think something like this in a smaller scale could come in handy for most sewers and crafters.  It could be done on a piece of plywood or MDF to bring out when you need it and place it on top of your craft table.

Mine gets really dirty throughout the year and boy was it bad this year! 

See, pretty gross huh?  Embarrassing gross!  Oh, and you can write on it too.  I mark measuring and cutting lines on it and the occasional notes if I find myself without a scrap piece of paper, But I'm gonna try really hard not to do math or notes or scribbles on it this year.  I want it to look nice for my blog pictures.

Here's what the new one looks like.

What you'll need for this project is a piece of 1/2" MDF cut to the size you want to fit on top of your sewing/craft table, worktable padding that is high temperature and moisture resistant, 10oz Canvas, staple gun and staples.  Here's a source I found on line for the padding you'll need, the stuff you want is the Insul-Bright.

Cut your MDF to your size.  Position your thermal padding on top of the MDF and trim the padding edges  flush with the edges of your wood.  Cover this with canvas and pull it taught over the corners to the underside and staple at all 4 corners.  Now work your way around all 4 sides pulling tight and stapling on the underside.  Trim off any excess canvas from the underside.  I use these extra scraps of canvas to make holsters for my scissors at every corner of my worktable.  I'll get to that in a bit.

So here's my freshly covered table.

I use fine point permanent markers in different colors to mark my lines on my workroom table.

I color code my lines.  For instance I draw lines every 10" down the whole length of my table with the Black marker.  This helps me measure out something quickly.  Then on the long edge of my table I use the orange marker to draw lines at 3" and 6" I use these lines when pressing up a double 3" hem for the bottom edge of drapery panel lining.  Purple is used to do 4" and 8" lines which are used to press double 4" hems on the bottom of drapery panels.  Then I add and additional orange line at 1 1/2" and this is used in conjunction with my 3" line to press double 1 1/2" side hems on panels.

You can mark lines for whatever you  do on a regular basis.

Now as I mentioned I use the canvas scraps to make holsters for my scissors at every corner of my cutting table so I don't find myself on one side of the table without a pair of scissors.  Just cut a strip 2 1/4 wide by approx 4" long, fold it in 3rds and glue with tacky glue.  Then staple it to the side edge of your table.

I also have a little canvas caddy that I staple to the side of my workroom table to hold small tools, but mine is in desperate need of a re-do so I didn't post a picture, but maybe I'll do a post on how to make one in the near future.
Happy measuring, cutting, pinning and pressing all in one place!
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  1. Since I only recently discovered your blog I am just catching up on your older postings. This one is terrific. I have one high is your cutting table? Thanks much.

    1. Nancy,
      Sorry it took me so long to get back to you on this! It's 39" high and I'm 5'5". Make yours whatever height feels comfortable for you to work on. I do a LOT of pressing on my table and the iron would give me a back ache if I didn't have it at a comfortable level.

  2. I have constructed my own worktable. I have my pressing pad and made it from a piece of plywood, batting and material as well. My pad is removeable and allows then to use the table as my cutting table. I also quilt so it really comes in handy since I can be cutting fabric a long time.

    I constructed mine using 3 9 cube shelving units. One on each end and the top is a door. I have it on my own blog. They can be made to be very pretty as well. I have tried to make mine a piece that looks attractive as well as functional. You can see it here

    I am so glad I stumbled onto your site. I am new to sewing and love it so much. I actually got into it because of wanting to make window treatments for my home and it has grown from there. I will be reading your blog regularly so I can learn as much as possible from you. I have yet to make any treatments accept for the ones I made for my cutting/pressing table. That was my first real attempt. They came out ok. Not GREAT but I am certainly not ashamed of them. It has given me the confidence to move on to making them for my windows now!

    So thank you for lending some of your hard earned knowledge and experience to us novices. I know I appreciate it so much! I am working on projects as well. Some sewing, some other kinds of home dec crafts.

    1. My padding is stapled to my table and is not removable, I cut right on top of it. I'm assuming you mean with your rotary cutter and mat that you remove the padding. I have to use a different work table when I'm using my rotary cutter and mat.
      Cute table and sewing room!!
      You're a big quilter?! My mom is the quilter in our family, I dabble in it from time to time.
      Your sheered on rod panels under your cutting table came out good, you did a great job!! I'm confident that you can do any window treatment you desire! If you need help, send me an email and I will be glad to help!
      Good Luck!!

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  4. Thank you! I was actually surprised they came out as well as they did. They do a great job of hiding a lot of storage under the table. The table is almost 7ft long. I have only removed the pad once. It is usually there. I have it covered with the same material as the curtains. The cutting mat is on the right side. My favorite part is the height. It really helps to have the table at the right height.

    I am new to all of it. Sewing, quilting and even crafts. Before 9 months ago it was the last thing I ever had a desire to do...then I dont know what happened. I was unable to work anymore after April of '09 and that was a hard blow. I had always worked and took great pride in how well I did my job. Then suddenly I lost that. All my kiddos but one are grown and out on their own. I was seriously at loose ends. This gave me back that feeling I lost. It also feels like it comes pretty natural to me. My maternal grandmother was a master seamstress and could walk into Neiman's and pick out any dress and go home and make one identical to it. So maybe it is like any other talent and can be passed on geneticaly. I don't know, I just know I love doing it! I

    I am about to begin making the window treatments on my sewing room, then livingroom and bedroom. So I will probably be asking you a question or two. If you hear a scream coming from the general direction of Texas, know it is ME!

  5. I love it when I come across a post that is recent and is something I really need! I love this and can't wait to figure this out in my art room. Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. I love it when I come across a post that is recent and is something I really need! I love this and can't wait to figure this out in my art room. Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. Just wondering about the lines on your table ... you said you use the table for pressing too. Have you ever had the lines bleed into the fabric you're cutting or pressing? I want to draw lines onto the table I'm planning to make myself but I'm worried about colour transfer.

  8. Thanks so much for posting this! Most of my work is through silkscreening and I am looking to construct my own pinnable work table. What is your original table constructed from? I've seen some articles suggest industrial felted wool or thick carpet padding or blankets or even several layers of muslin but I am having trouble getting more information on what I should be using. I'm looking for a surface that has more padding than a few layers of batting but not so much to say "pillow topped." What would you recommend?

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  10. How do you make a table 60" wide using plywood?