Home, Sewing

Cutting Table Bliss

First, I want to address the tragedy of Robin Williams’ passing.  He was both a comedic and dramatic genius; his life’s work made an impact on my life and I am so very sad for his family and the world to have lost him.  His untimely death is also a reminder of how devastating of an illness depression is and how important it is to know the signs and know that it can affect anyone.  From what I’ve seen, he was being treated, but hopefully his passing will raise awareness that will ultimately help others.

As someone who has struggled with depression in the past, it was the insight of a cherished, wonderful lecturer in my college apparel design program who first mentioned I seemed off.  She gave me the nudge I needed to get help and I’m grateful.

I don’t know the anguish Robin was feeling that caused him to end all pain (if that’s even what happened, which seems likely), but it grieves me to think of what he may have gone through.  Here’s hoping that now he can rest in peace.

* * * * *

So, I finally got it assembled…my new Nordbyn table from Ikea!  Sure, it wasn’t quite the Ikea hackers DIY situation I had envisioned, but I am very happy with the outcome!

Cutting room reorg
It’s not rocket science

Here’s a before and after of my cutting situation:

Cutting area before

Cutting Room Reorg

The bed risers I bought from Amazon are pretty much the perfect height for me; the table top hits an inch or two below my belly button.


Cutting room reorg

I haven’t cut anything out on it yet, but I did do some pattern prep and definitely found it much more comfortable than my previous situation.

My mat doesn’t quite fit on the table, but having 1/2″ extending off each side is much better than the 2″+ I had flopping off previously.

I love that the table is narrow enough for this space, but is long enough to support extra fabric on one end so it’s not just hanging off and distorting it, which was another issue with my old table.  All of these photos show the table fully extended with the extra leaf, which adds about two feet of extra length.

Cutting room reorg
Also a great place to keep tools while working!

Thought while I was at it, I’d give you a wee tour of my Cutting Dungeon of Doom.  It’s just really dark down there, but is a lovely place to hang out when it’s super hot out – so nice and cool!  I will probably bitch about this come January.  Though, I will probably bitch about everything come January.

Cutting room reorg

Speaking of dungeons, the overhead lighting of our basement is piss poor.  We have one dim fixture at the bottom of the stairs and then only two more for the whole 500 square foot space.  This is something we’ve discussed improving, but haven’t seriously looked into yet.  That, and adding electrical outlets to the exterior wall (there aren’t any…WTH previous owners?)

Anyway, to combat the dim haze of scheisse overhead lighting, I have approximately 5 million lamps surrounding my cutting table.  They are are random mish-mash of all of the lamps deemed unfit for upstairs use, (for instance, the 3 headed lamp’s first home was my childhood bedroom) plus a faux Ott-Lite that I decided was needed more in the basement than next to my sewing machine.  All of that and I still feel like I could use a bit more illumination…

As you can see, I also have an ironing board down yonder.  I’ll probably buy a wall mount for it so it doesn’t always have to be out.  I don’t use it that much, but ever since we got a new ironing board as a wedding gift, I decided it would be nice to have one near the cutting area:  sometimes you don’t realize how wrinkled your fabric is until you get down to the basement!  And being able to iron out super wrinkly patterns is always a plus.

And lastly, I have my little corner of what-not.

Cutting room reorg

First off, there are most of my digital patterns, printed off and all rolled together on one tube.  It’s not an ideal situation; I have no idea what’s on that tube and even if I did I would have to potentially unroll ALL of them to get to what I need.  I really have no fucking clue how to store these damn things.  What do you do?  This is one of the many reasons why I hate printable patterns (yet I still keep using them…).

And then there’s my little cart of supplies.

Cutting room reorg

It’s not an heirloom or really anything special, but this little cart was my grandma’s, so I always think of her when I’m cutting.  When it’s organized, I have different things on each of the three shelves.

The top shelf holds everything I need for cutting and marking.  Wax/chalk tracing paper (LOVE the yellow wax stuff; picked it up from the FIT bookstore TEN years ago when I was going to school there, and it’s still going strong), tracing wheels, pattern weights (or marshmallows/poops, depending on who you ask), pencils, rulers (french curve, hip curve, L square, gridded ruler), paper scissors, tape, and 60 mm and 28 mm rotary cutters.  Whew.

Cutting room reorg

The middle shelf holds fabrics.  I keep all of my muslin down by my cutting station as well as my fusible woven interfacing (hate that non-woven crap) and a few lining choices (with more up in my sewing room).

Cutting room reorg

The bottom shelf holds paper.  I keep my big roll of pattern paper here as well as traced off patterns I haven’t gotten cut yet and MORE of those pesky printable patterns.  Folded, on a roll, I still don’t know how to properly store them.  It really bothers me that I can’t seem to come up with a good solution that doesn’t take a ton of space.

Cutting room reorg

So, that’s pretty much all she wrote.  Here’s hoping I get my sewing machine and serger back from the shop this week and can show you my sewing room, too!

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20 thoughts on “Cutting Table Bliss”

  1. Awesome cutting board! I like to use painters tape to assemble my pdf patterns. That way I can take them apart(as long as you do it within 24-48 hours) without tearing the paper and store them flat. Does your light fixtures use regular bulbs? If they do you may want to try LED bulbs. They are a bit more expensive, but they last longer, use less electricity and are actually brighter. We have some in our house and I can’t wait to replace the ones in my sewing room.

    1. I feel like it’s such a process to put PDF patterns together accurately, so I’m not a fan of idea of taking them all apart. Though, it would be an excellent way to store them and I know I can’t have both ways.

      Good tip on LEDs! They do use regular bulbs, except for the fauxott-lite. Definitely worth looking in to!

  2. Yay! What an awesome table!

    I also despise PDFs for that reason. Especially when they are like 27 pages wide by 30 pages long. I’m only mildly exaggerating!

    I roll mine up and store them in a box. I do not know what’s there either. I don’t care either. LOL! I was thinking that maybe I’ll splurge (cause I’m cheap) on one of those wrapping-paper holder containers…but the more I think of it, meh. Maybe score some of those tall, skinny uhaul boxes?? I dunno.

    1. I have one of those wrapping paper holder things and it just doesn’t hold very much.

      I’ve thought about using any ol’ box; has that been working alright for you? I’ve ideally wanted and have looked for a nice wooden or plastic box, but have yet to locate this magical pattern storage solution. Nothing seems “right.”

      1. They’re fine just randomly tossed in a box but I just keep “seeing” them and I feel like I’d feel better about them if they were more contained.

  3. Ah that looks so much better and more comfortable than the old situation! I always cut my pdf patterns and to store them I just roll them up or fold them and put them in a basket or a drawer. Just like tissue patterns you can iron the creases and folds out of them.

  4. I hold my PDF pages together with binder clips and toss them in a drawer. If it’s not obvious, I’ll write what the pattern is on the top page of the clip. It’s not ideal, but it keeps everything together and makes it easy to find again.

  5. I fold my pdf’s up in roughly 8×10’ish rectangles and store them in a plastic sleeve in a binder. I use anything near me to flatten out the folds. Because I use my kids discarded binders in currently am able to write what patterns are contained in a binder and store the list in the clear front pocket so it’s easy to see.

    I also trace off and mostly go forward using the trace offs. I have kids and one of them likes to cut stuff out for herself so we have made a binder for her trace offs….feels like I invented something magnificent – it works so well for is!

  6. I also fold mine up after I’ve printed them, taped them, traced them. It’s exhausting. Then just to fold them up. I store them in file folder bins by designer or type.

    Your table looks amazing and I’m a bit jealous :) I need to try the Amazon risers. My kitchen table is perfect size but hurts my back because it’s so low. Great idea!

    (btw I wish IKEA was closer to me, love that store. I have 3 hrs to minneapolis or 5 to chicago, boo!)

    1. I always feel when I fold them up that they’re not going to be flat again later. Which is another point, I guess: if I just FEEL that they won’t be flat later and haven’t actually experienced if they are or not, maybe I should just cut them out. Ha.

      Yes! The risers should work well for your table, as long as the legs are less than 3″ across, which most table legs are.

      Oh, I wish Ikea were closer, too. As I mentioned in my last post, going there is somewhat of a pilgrimage: Chicago one is about 2.5 hours away and Minneapolis is 4.5-5! So, the opposite of your drives. :P

  7. Thanks for talking about depression. It’s getting it out of the dark and talking about it that helps. As for the table I live the idea of risers I’m kind of tall( 5’7) so it can be darn uncomfortable bending down to cut. Good idea!

    1. Yes, we need to de-stigmatize depression in this country. It’s an illness that affects so many people and is still so misunderstood. Treatment may not always work, but at least if we talk about it, there can be a chance to try.

      I saw some risers that were 8″ tall, too! They stacked on top of each other to allow for 3″, 5″ or 8″ of extra height.

  8. A tall cutting table will change your life (or at least your back) – it did for me, anyway. Nice cutting basement! And we have some baffling prior-homeowner lighting choices in our house, too (no, I don’t want the heat lamp on the same switch as the vanity light!)
    I always cut out my pdf patterns once they’re taped together (if I need a different size in the future, I can always print it again, right? Actually I cut out all my patterns, because I’m lazy), so to store them I fold up the pieces and store them in one of those accordian file boxes. I found one at Target that has 24 pockets, which is plenty for now and I can always get another one if necessary. It also happens to be about the same size as the boxes I store my print patterns in, so all my patterns can go on the same shelf.
    I also don’t print a pattern until I’m ready to use it, I store it on my hard drive and only print when I’m ready to cut.

    1. Yay for hopefully changing my back! I went to the doctor yesterday for a sort of back condition (which they frustratingly told me was not something they “do” anything about. Ugh. Fuck all.) so anything to keep the ol’ spine in line is good to have.

      I’m realizing that with the exception of the Lady Skater (which I haven’t blogged about…meh), I haven’t re-used any of my PDF patterns. Maybe I should just cut mine, too. The accordion box sounds handy!

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