Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Tour of My Sewing Space

My sewing room isn't huge: about 12 feet wide and about 22 feet long. It's also in the basement, so there's no natural light. It's probably the only thing I miss here, but I'm managing, with the help of four banks of daylight fluorescent bulbs.
There's a lot packed into the room: a full-sized work table, three industrial machines, and two standard machines. Let's take a look!

First up is an industrial straight stitch machine, a Juki DDL5550N-7. It has several features that I just love, but the very best of them is the ultra-quiet servo motor. I can keep the machine on and ready to sew without the motor howling in the background.
It also has a computerized control; that's the panel you see on top of the machine. This machine does an automatic backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam, then cuts the thread for me too! The only feature it doesn't have is the automatic presser foot lift; I'm seriously considering adding it in the near future.

This is an industrial blind hemmer, a U.S. Blindstitch 718-9. It is the one machine that is most unlike any home machine. The blind stitch from an industrial machine is different from the blind stitch done on a home machine. For one thing, the needle is curved, which lets it take a small "bite" out of the fabric. It also uses a single thread, creating a chain stitch. This is commonly used for hemming drapery panels, and also for clothing. The long plate on this machine means it's intended for drapery work.

Here's a close-up of the "business end" of the blind hemmer. The curved needle is on the left. To insert fabric, the base plate is dropped via a knee control. The base plate has a small ridge in it, which forces the fabric into a little bump. This bump is then caught by the needle, forming the stitch. The depth of the "bite" can be adjusted, so the stitch can be virtually invisible from the face of the fabric.

Here's the latest addition to my machine "stable": a Juki MO2516 five-thread industrial serger. I'd been using my home machine (a Bernina 2000DE) for years; going to an industrial is a whole new world. It can make nearly 8,000 stitches per minute, which is much faster than I dare to run it for now... I need to get used to it first!

In the corner are my two home machines: a Janome CP1000 coverstitch machine and a Husqvarna Designer 1. They're not used a lot, but they are specialized machines. Coverstitch machines generally aren't used in the drapery world, but I use it whenever I'm hemming knits. The Designer 1 is used mostly for its embroidery and the occasional buttonhole. I've really gotten used to the speed and durability of industrials!

No workroom is complete without a worktable. When I built it four years ago, it was 12 feet long. Unfortunately, a table that long wouldn't fit in this sewing room. So, I had to chop four feet off the table, and that hurt!! The table has a 3/4" plywood base, topped with a layer of homasote, a layer of worktable padding, and finished off with a thick canvas cover. Underneath is storage for rolls of fabric and other supplies. Two rolls of lining hang ready on the wall.

This is a storage cabinet I picked up from an electrician's workshop for about $10; the 30 drawers are perfect for storing extra notions, zippers, snaps, purse parts, and any number of small items. The drawers are labeled because I always forget what's where. The top of the cabinet has the unfortunate tendency to become a "temporary" storage spot for things I intend to put away... someday.

There's more to the workroom, but I'll leave that for another day.


  1. Would you please tell me what is the throat space in that industrial Juki? Thanks.

    fulvialuciano at yahoo dot com

  2. It's wonderfully large... ten inches! And it's tall, too... five inches. The only thing I miss about it is that it doesn't have a free arm, but I can work around that most of the time.

  3. Your sewing space is to die for! I have a few questions, if you will, about your cutting table: 1) what kind of padding did you use -- I don't recognize the name you used??? 2) does is move easily? 3) do you have more pics of it: seems like the construction could be done by a home hobbyist carpenter wannabe.

    Many thanks. LOVE YOUR SMITHSON PROJECTS. I started following them on Pattern Master forums etc.


  4. Thanks, Patti! The table padding is a specialty product from Rowley Corp., which sells workroom supplies to the trade only. My table isn't on casters, but I did add felt pads to the underside of the base so it does slide fairly easily if I have to move it. I built it by myself; it's pressure-treated 4x4s, the frame is 2x4s, the lower shelves are 3/8" melamine and the top is 3/4" plywood. I don't have plans... I just figured it out as I went along!


I would love to hear your thoughts... Please share!