Fabric Cutting Table Buying Guide

Introduction

The ideal cutting table is about three feet wide, four feet high and at least six feet long.

It also has storage shelves and drawers underneath to hold sewing and ironing supplies, fabric and all of your other sewing room essentials.

The only problem with owning an ideal cutting table is it is so big that it simply won’t fit in most home sewing areas.

If you are like most home sewers you have been at it for a very long time. Even if you have not been sewing long at all, you are probably cutting your patterns out on a kitchen or dining room table.

Perfect Table for Small Space

Perfect Table for Small Space

After all, practically every home has at least one table where meals are served. Many homes, however – even those with a separate sewing room – do not have enough space for the full size cutting table described above.

Most home sewers often find it necessary to make do and use their kitchen and dining room tables to pin and cut their sewing patterns.

The challenge in cutting on tables designed for dining is the fact that they are lower than necessary, requiring you to bend, twist and sometimes contort your body in very painful positions, causing undue stress on backs, shoulders and hips.

After doing this for long periods of time, this physical strain could result in chronic pain that we must endure for many years.

The best way to avoid it is to invest a little bit of time and money in an ergonomically designed cutting table, made specifically for the job at hand.

What to Look For

An ideal cutting table with drawers and storage shelves

An ideal cutting table with drawers and storage shelves

The ideal height for cutting fabric is what is commonly referred to as ‘counter height’. Stand at your kitchen counter and you can get a very good ideal of the best height for a cutting table.

Unless you are one of those people who prepares very few meals at home, do not even think about cutting fabric on your kitchen counters.

Even the cleanest of kitchens is not conducive to laying out large uncut pieces of fabric. You may have the height, but you certainly don’t have the width to consider using your kitchen countertop as a cutting table.

The good news is cutting tables come in all different types. If you have the luxury of living in a house or apartment large enough for you to have a separate sewing room, you may still not have enough space for a large cutting table.

Typically, a home sewing room is the smallest bedroom in the house, an attic or a corner in the laundry room.

Your Choices

If you do have a sewing room that is large enough to accommodate the ideal cutting table, count your blessings.

If, on the other hand, your sewing area fits the description of a typical home sewing space, consider one of the many folding cutting tables instead.

For an investment of about $100-$200 you can find a cutting table with leaves that drop down on both sides. When you are ready to lay out your fabric, simply open the leaves and you have a full size cutting table to work on.

If you are making smaller items, like a sleeveless blouse, clothes for a small child, a hat or a small purse, you might be able to get away with opening just one leaf.

When the job is done, simply drop the leaves and you have a smaller table, requiring much less space until you are ready to put it to work again.

If you have extremely limited space and cannot even spare space for a drop leaf cutting table, do not discount the notion of having a cutting table altogether.

Collapsible, hide away cutting tables are also available, including cutting tables made of corrugated cardboard that can be neatly tucked away in a closet or on a shelf.

The corrugated cardboard cutting table is not only lightweight, portable and easy to store, it is also economical.

Cardboard Cutting Board

Cardboard Cutting Board

You cannot expect it to last long, especially if you are using it on a consistent basis, but a cutting board made of cardboard is an economical quick fix when budget and space are major considerations. When folded up, it takes up less space than a full size ironing board.

At one time, we lived in a tiny apartment. Our sewing machines were set up in the bedroom on two small desks.

We used one of these corrugated cardboard cutting tables and a table top ironing board. When it was time to cut, we set the cutting table up in the living room and put the ironing board on the dining room table.

This was during a time when we were making practically everything we wore, so we were sewing at least two days every week.

We didn’t set up the cutting table that often, however. Our system always involved cutting at least five or six pieces at a time and then sewing until those projects were finished and starting over again.

We estimate that our corrugated cardboard cutting table was set up and taken down at least twice a month.

The material was much sturdier than a box made for packing fragile dishes or equipment, but cardboard just the same; and it did eventually show signs of wear and stress from all that use.

In the five years we lived in that apartment, wore out two cardboard cutting tables. Looking back, we believe it was an investment well made, considering the circumstances.

More durable fold away cutting tables are made with plastic tops and metal legs.

When not set up for use, they take up about the same amount of space as a folding card table or one of those folding utility tables that tuck away nicely in a closet.

In all honesty, the only reason we did not get one of these tables when we were in that tiny apartment was the closets were already filled to capacity.

These tables are available for approximately $100 and can often be found for less.

Today, we have a drop leaf cutting table that is mounted on casters. When it is not in use, we simply drop the leaves and roll it out of the way.

Drop leaf cutting table mounted on casters

Drop leaf cutting table mounted on casters

The top is made of pressed wood, covered in white laminate. It has black metal legs and black wheels.

A more expensive version

A more expensive version

With the leaves in the down position, my cutting table looks a little bit like a contemporary accent table until you notice the wheels on the bottom. A table like this costs approximately $140-$150.

A more expensive version of this same table includes drawers for storing your sewing supplies and fabric. This seemingly minor addition, however, drives the selling price up to more than $300.

Conclusion

Regardless of how long you have been sewing, the size of your sewing area or how often you sew, we strongly suggest that you add a cutting table to your inventory.

Not only will it make a big difference in your comfort level while cutting out your fabric, it will also make a significant difference in the way you feel years from now.

The type of cutting table you get depends entirely upon you, your budget and your space. It took us a very long time to go ahead and get our own cutting table.

If we knew then what we know now, we would never have put it off as long as we did.

Very few sewing instructors even mention the significance of using a cutting table. The merits of using a cutting table should have the same level of importance as sewing machine maintenance and care.

It doesn’t matter what type of cutting table you decide is best for your particular circumstances, you can purchase one from the comfort of your home at amazon.com.

If you feel you need the input and advice of an expert before making a final decision as which cutting table to purchase, visit your local sewing machine dealer.

In some cases, you will be able to purchase a cutting table on the spot. Be certain, however, that you are getting something that suits your needs.

Don’t buy a cutting table that is too large for your space. A beautiful cutting table that enables you to store all of your sewing supplies in one place is no good if you don’t have space to move around and be comfortable in your sewing area.


4 Comments

  1. Good Morning! Just found your website and love it! Your musings on cutting tables made me laugh. I’ve been sewing since I was old enough to hold a needle. I HATE HOT HUMID WEATHER, so I used to hide out in the basement of our house ‘listening to’ old movies and sewing my winter wardrobe. In our first house we had a huge old pool table that we used as a cutting table. Then I had an old dining room table that my mom and I used to use for laying out patterns, although to low as you stated, it worked perfectly! I’m still laying out my patterns on my dining room table, no other place with enough room. Most of my resent sewing has been designing and constructing duvet covers and throws. One a king sized monster made from elaborate extra wide fabric had to be laid out on the living room floor, after I moved all the furniture out the way! Of course our cat, Isis, thought it was invitation to play. So here I am trying to match the front with the back, crawling around on my hands and knees!

    My first sewing machine was a heavy solid metal, USA made monster from the early 60′s complete with embroider cams. Wish I’d never gotten rid of it. I moved up to a Viking Designer One and have had nothing but trouble with it! Sigh, wish I new where my old one was …

    Love your site and look forward to more of your postings.

    Cam Morris

    • Ms Morris, sorry to hear that your Viking Designer One is so annoying. I recommend taking it to the dealer and explaining your difficulties. If the results are unsatisfactory after a couple of attempts, see another Viking dealer. Sometimes a visit to another dealer (with a repair person on site) helps because they may have the experience to relate to what you are dealing with. I’m not a dealer; only a very satisfies Viking owner. I purchased my first one 39 years ago (top of the line with fancy stitch cams) and used it to sew every thing from wedding gowns to repairing boy scout tents. Yes, it still runs well. About eight years ago, I decided to upgrade and found a Bernina embroidery machine on sale. Bad idea. Oh the machine is fine but it took my brain a while to adjust to electronic machines. Thinking I’d made a mistake, off I went to my Viking dealer and purchased a used Quilt Designer. Loved it! And it, along with classes, helped me transition to the electronic sewing machine world. Eventually, it was traded in for the Viking Diamond–another big leap. I took the classes for it and am still learning. I have since learned to love my Bernina so I’m in heaven when I sew. I can get one machine going with embroidery and sew on the other. I keep my old Viking for when a friend wishes to join me and doesn’t want to bring her own along.

      Thanks to all for the ideas about a cutting table. I have the small house as referenced above and no basement or garage for storage. I’ll start measuring some corners for a good place to put a folding table.

      • Dear Kitty: This is so very funny, my experience almost the same as yours. I started on old machine with ‘cams’ and wish I’d never given it away! I did take my machine to a different dealer. One with an in-house technician that the owner of a local quilting store recommended and I couldn’t be happier now that’s fixed. Turns out some warranty repairs were never preformed and that was the source of all my problems. I’m still ‘upset’ with Viking. I lost the memory stick with the code to work my soft wear package and now find out it can’t be replaced. Not a happy camper. I was thinking about replacing the Designer one and found out they are making the machines in China now and they are mostly plastic. If I ever upgrade it will to a Bernina. At least they aren’t made in China and are still metal.

  2. I recently moved to AZ and had to seriously downsize my sewing/craft room. I took my cutting table with me-dropleaf with casters-that has 2 open storage areas beneath. I used to store the cutting mat rolled in one area, but I could never get it to lie flat when I took it out to use it unless I let it sit for a few weeks. Since I don’t have the space in my new home I had to solve the problem. I permanently mounted the mat to the table top-then cut at the seam between the leaves. Voila! The mat is always on the table, mounted with lots of hot glue, and I can open one or two leaves as needed to use it. I love this solution! My first attemt using double sided duck tape was a sad failure. The AZ heat and the curve of the plastic mat pulled the mat away from the table-and wouldn’t stay adhered. So far-the hot glue is working fine. I didn’t want to use a spray adhesive-too many fumes and difficult to place on the first try. Hot glue is more forgiving.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>