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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Sewing extension tables

A while ago it occurred to me that of the many sewing machines I have owned/own I have never had a Bernina.

And once I get an idea in my head ...

With a Pfaff 7570, a sturdy Pfaff 85 as back-up, a nice small Janome for traveling, my grandmother's Featherweight, my 4860 Pfaff 5 thread serger and my Janome coverhem, you couldn't really say I was short of machines.

However once I get an idea in my head ...

To cut a time consuming story short I started hovering eBay and was a failed bidder at numerous auctions where I was amazed how expensive good vintage Berninas were.

Enter my spouse the man who is responsible for an infinite number of small padded post bags from all over the world with camera or computer parts (and I am not even going into the 4 GPS fiasco ,that once had us traveling with at least two and a half of them going at the same time - all talking in those annoying metallic voices, with different accents, and sending us in the wrong direction, at least two wrong directions, while I yelled "the sign right above our heads says this is the exit").

Suffice it to say that the rules of GPSs are that you are not allowed to read the road signs particularly those that are telling you to go in a different direction than the voices.

Anyway, incredibly we are still married, and back to eBay.

On one late night auction the GPS man, experienced with his pressure purchases, actually took the mouse from my hand (in my books grounds for divorce) and I "won" a Bernina 801 for $130.00.

It arrived and turned out to be in beautiful condition but minus the bobbin case and the extension table. Signs all you home ec teachers will know right away means it was used in a classroom. Put into a drop down desk and all the bobbin cases in the teacher's desk, because, well you know, kids.

Of course it has been impossible to source an extension table (the original bobbin case was easy) and I have been thinking I need one. Sewing on a free arm alone isn't enough.

I am going to have to go with an adjusta model and those are really quite pricey. And it's sort of a principle to not spend more on the part than on the machine.

Companies like this one  have nice looking tables like this:

Which really look beautiful, but I am a garment sewer and not a quilter, and only need a little something for my left hand and to rest my right hand during a longer seam.

I have searched DIY but those look like involving my spouse, who sort of feels about these jobs the way I do about replacing zippers in jeans. He is far more into jobs like tear down that wall.

So I am wondering how I can make one for myself, with easy to source materials. So far I have come up with cardboard from the box that my Fabricmart order came in and legs made of Opi nail polish bottles that just happen to be the right height.

But what about my toes?

It's all really stressful.

Any ideas?


gwensews said...

Peggy Sagers made a sewing table from styrofoam. It's on her site, silhouettepatterns.com. If you look at her past webcasts, it's on a recent video about knits.

jbettyb said...

My husband made one from a piece of hollow-core door and four dowels cut to size for legs. He cut the shape of my Pfaff machine. Mine wasn't to replace the original, but to extend the sewing platform so I could do some free-motion quilting. The only thing with wood is that it does need to be sanded very smooth, otherwise light or loose fabrics will catch on it. The extension is a bit cumbersome, but not too heavy to move. By the way, I have been enjoying your blog for months, Barb, and have finally figured out how to post comments.

Anonymous said...

cutting one out of a chunk of foam - like you often find in packing of electronics and never know what to do with - seems possible. You can carve it with a sharp knife, and maybe spray lacquer it to lessen any crumbling, depending on the foam.

sewingkm said...

I love your homemade extension box and your sense of humor cracks me up!!!

Kathie said...

Barbara! the link to Sager's styrofoam solution is

hope this helps and thank you for always making me smile!

badmomgoodmom said...

Just go and buy a new one w/ all the parts. You deserve it after the GPSs.


BeckyMc said...

Yes, remember the GPS! Get what you want. But, if you want one made of plexiglass, it is easy to find at Home Depot and it cuts easily with a router. My husband made a lot of jigs for woodwork with half-inch thick plexiglass.

Andrea said...

I think it would be relatively inexpensive to get a piece of plexiglass cut to fit. Then perhaps scour the hardware store to find something you can glue on as legs. Home Dpot or Lowes may have plexiglas and cut it for you.

Good luck! Do we get to see a picture of your new machine? I've been hankering for a new (old) machine also.

LinB said...

At our local Habitat for Humanity Restore, and Salvation Army thrift store, we find lots and lots of sewing machine tables without the machines. Ditto at university get-rid-of-old-furniture sales every quarter. I NEVER see machines at yard sales or flea markets, only the empty tables and cabinets. You may be able to source a ready-made option more easily than you think. I paid $5 for a perfectly acceptable used home-ec table from UNCG.

Calypso Flowers said...

What a wonderful woman you are ! I have been without an extension table for my Bernina for so long now, that I have totally given up on the idea, but now I'm VERY EXCITED about the styrofoam. Off to the garage !