Saturday, September 18, 2010

Some Inexpensive Studio Furniture Ideas / Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Since Ginny asked about this in a comment to my last post, I'm going to share with you my inexpensive do-it-yourself cutting table.

The base of my table is made up of two shoe cubbies that I purchased at Lowes in their closet organizing department. Turned on end they are the perfect height to set a tabletop on for a cutting table--or an ironing table, or both..

My tabletop is 1/2" plywood that I had cut to approx 30x48 (to accommodate a 24x36 self healing cutting mat and the available space in my own small studio). The wood has been finished with a high gloss white baked on paint (it came from a company that builds convention exhibit booths). The guys at the shop painted the edges for me, but my plan originally was to purchase iron on veneer edging (also available at Lowes) to finish the edges. They used a thick high gloss paint, so the veneering wasn't necessary. Saved me some time and $$$$.

I fold my fabric to fit in the cubbies. Each cubbie holds about 30 stacked  fat quarters, or three folded 4-yard pieces. I've got yardage, FQs, jelly rolls in my cubbies. The cubbies are 12" deep, so you fold your fabric long and narrow for optimum storage. The fabrics aren't in the path of any direct light, and I do cycle through the fabric so it's not in any real danger of fading. When I vacuum my studio, I just vacuum along the stacks as well to keep them dust-free.

My original idea was to make a custom sewing table, with a cut out (suspended on L brackets) for my sewing machine, but the shoe cubbies were too short or too tall, depending on how you placed them, so I bought a lovely white trestle desk for the sewing machine and reworked my cubby idea into the cutting table.

Now, I had to purchase a 4'x8' piece of plywood, so the guys also cut me a shelf, and a desktop (so I can still make my suspended machine shelf desk), and I've squirrelled these away in my closet for future use.

On a quest for thread storage that allowed me to separate my threads out by content and color, and keep them protected from light and dust, I picked up these super inexpensive scrapbook drawers half price at Michaels, with an eye on dual purpose.

What you see are 4 3-drawer units that I've stacked two up. And to my surprise, they are the exact height of the base on my trestle desk, so at some point they will become the 'legs' for that desk-size piece of plywood.

The drawers are spacious and hold quite a bit of thread, and I've labeled them by content. As you can see, the spools lie on their sides (though they could stand), and the cone-type spools of embroidery polyester easily stand.

This shot gives you an idea of how much thread you can fit in a single drawer. You can lie 7 large spools, 11 small spools, or 6 Gutermann spools end to end. And you can lay at least 12 rows across the drawer. That's 72 spools of Gutermann per drawer. Totally out of the light, dust free, and multi-functional storage if you use the units as 'legs' for a flat surface on which to iron, sew, Accucut, get the point.

Cost for these multi-purpose storage solutions...totally reasonable. I paid around $50 for all four 3-drawer units. They're sturdy, wood laminate, and they stack securely (pegs hold sets together).

The shoe cubbies were a bit more. They are 25 cube Closet Maid laminate organizers, and they sell for $40 each. The 4x8 sheet of finished plywood cost me about $28, so I got 50 cubes of fabric storage and a cutting table for just over $100. (and that also included a desktop; and a shelf for future use).

Don't be afraid to step outside the box and design things that work for you. There's a ton of inexpensive storage and work solutions that will work great in any studio, large or small. You just need to look at existing storage solutions with an eye at repurposing them to fit your own needs.


  1. You are amazing....I can't stand it...come to my house and do my room???? Looks wonderful!

  2. and when you've finished at Barb's, how about a quick trip to the UK to sort me out?

  3. Really clever! I love peeking into bloggers sewing spaces.

  4. Love it! It's exactly what I need in my "studio"....if I had the room!

    Dana in IN

  5. Very good ideas. I might have to borrow them.

  6. I don't have a fraction of the amount of thread you do, but I do have a neat idea for thread storage for people who like to see what they have - a standing CD unit. Mine is out of the sunlight, and each boxed area allows me to separate thread by color so I can easily see if I'm running low on grey (the color I use most) and at a glance see if I even have some of the more unusual colors. I have the unit up on top of a large rubbermaid drawers unit and leaning against a wall- it is very secure, but high enough to see easily, the thing that meant the most to me. For someone who doesn't have the largest collection but still has more thread than a typical wooden stand will hold, this might be the trick.

  7. How did you secure the plywood to the cubbies or is it just sitting on them?

  8. All of this is brilliant! Can you explain more about how you set up the sewing table unit? Where'd you find the desk and how you converted or made a place for your machine?


I appreciate and look forward to your comments. Thanks for reading. Happy quilting!