Sunken Sewing Table DIY!

We've officially been in our new house for seven months now, which means I've had a lot of time to evaluate my sewing space and take notes about how I can improve it. One of the big things I wanted to change was to sink my sewing machine into the desk it sits on, making a big flat surface to work on. I mainly make flat objects on my sewing machine (quilts, rugs, baskets, etc...), and having the machine level with the table really decreases drag, especially when free motioning. So, I did some research and enlisted the help of my very handy husband Kyle, who pretty quickly determined that the desk I had wouldn't work for this project. It was a cheap one from Ikea that was filled with paper, which would then lose it's structural integrity if you put a hole in it. So, we looked around for a solid wood table and finally found one, ironically, in the as-is section at Ikea. It's an Ingo solid pine dining room table that looks like this (I forgot to get a picture of ours before we cut into it - I was too excited!): Ikea Ingo Table

If you decide to do this, don't get one of the extendable tables - you will be cutting a hole in there and putting a shelf in, and extendable tables have hardware under them that make that really difficult - solid wood is where it's at!

We followed this tutorial pretty closely for ours; as I have little to no experience with power tools and a rep for being kind of a klutz, Kyle did most of the work and all the heavy lifting, but if you're handy, this is easily a project you could do on your own. The first step was to trace my machine and cut a hole with a jigsaw.

Table with hole cut into it for sewing machine

Since it was pretty rough after that, the sides of the hole needed to be sanded, which we just did by hand; I'm told that this step would have been significantly easier with a power sander, but our way worked just fine, and it meant I got to help with at least one part!

Girl sanding table with hole in it

Then came time to make the attachment that the shelf would be suspended from, so Kyle cut down a furring strip into two lengths.

Man cutting furring strips with electric saw

He drilled four pockets and inserted bolts into them, then attached them to the bottom of the table (the bolts are what the shelf will hang off of). He used a lot of screws to fasten it, since it'll be holding up a pretty heavy machine and it would be very, very bad if fell off.

Bottom of sunken sewing table

Then it was time for the shelf, which he cut out of a piece of plywood, drilled a hole in each corner, and slid onto the bolts. The shelf is held on with hex nuts, which is great because the shelf can be adjusted (I have two machines, one for straight stitch and one for everything else, so this way I can switch them out if I need to). Kyle tightened them up with a wrench to make the machine flush with the table (you may need a buddy to help you judge this).

Bottom of sunken sewing desk being tightened with wrench

The very last step was to put cap nuts on the ends of the bolt so I don't hurt myself when I put my legs under it, and then we were done! This project, including the table, cost about $60 to make, and is so amazing! It's so much easier to sew things, and the wood looks really nice in my studio (ignore that ugly floor - that's the next problem to solve!).

Sunken sewing table

To give you an idea of exactly how flat a surface it makes, here's a current work in progress...there's no bump in the middle!

Sunken sewing table with gray and teal project on it

If you've been thinking of updating your sewing space, I would highly recommend giving this a try (especially if you like free motioning); it's seriously making my life so much easier and now that it's done, I can turn to my attention to my next studio improvements, so stay tuned!