This photo from last year’s New York Times slide show of the Christian LaCroix workrooms is inspiring. A simple wooden table, a portable machine underneath, a stool. What more could you want?
The cutting table is your most basic tool. Raise your hand if you are not cutting on a table at waist height. 2 points off if you are cutting on a cardboard mat on your bed. An additional 4 demerits if you are cutting on the floor. I know, I know. You don’t have the space, or the money to have a dedicated cutting table.
When we first moved to New York City, my dear husband and I were poor as the proverbial church mice. We had one room in a shared apartment. So we built folding saw horses, and put a piece of plywood on top, and that was my table. But what a table! It was painted an elegant matte black, and for the saw horse hardware I used gold metal cuphooks and window hanging sash chain to fix the width between the legs. Saw horse tables are easy to make, and can be put up and down with ease.
Now to me, the width of the table top in this photo is not nearly wide enough…and I am not sure I want a glass tabletop. You can use a different tabletop with the Artur legs though, which are adjustable from 28″ to 36″ high. My table is 36″, as are most commercial cutting tables. Here is a nifty link for folding sawhorse plans. This other plan with a simple hinge is closer to my NYC sawhorses, but with the cross piece at the bottom higher up the leg. I had a some boards I could sling underneath to make a shelf that sat on top of those cross bars. Can you guess that my table was more or less a permanent part of our bedroom? For those who might like to trade up, check out the Ligne Roset Trestle Table. My DH could totally make this elegant version of the sawhorse table!
Seriously though, your table can have a huge impact on your results. From not being able to get the proper angle for cutting those niggling little curves and notches, to dreading cutting because you break your back every time, there are a hundred reasons why not having a proper table can hurt your results. This is true not only for cutting, but for having a place to lay out your work in progress. All kinds of garment sewing require large surfaces at waist height, and most particularly when working on home decorating projects.
What matters? Not only height, but width, and, tables are not just for cutting!
The main thing for home dec is to have a BIG PRESSING TABLE.
One of the biggest revelations I ever had was walking by a design shop in Paris, up near the Sacre Coeur and watching thru the window as they laid the curtains out on a huge padded table at waist height to press. Light bulb moment!
I now have a layer of padding I can roll out on my cutting table to turn it into a pressing table. I also got 2 giant pieces of ½” thick foamcore and duct-taped together for a folding mat to make it 60” wide if needed. (had to do that for the taffeta of the recent prom dress.) You can see it here propped up in the corner.
I can think of nothing more helpful than a large table at the proper height for any curtain or bedspread wrangling. I even put the portable sewing machine up on the table and sew standing up for the big wide jobs.
This commercial set-up for a drapery workroom is interesting on several levels. I love the little skirt in front that looks like it can be extended to allow the fabric to fall in to it to keep from dragging on the floor. Also, check out the table-top pad. Now there is a really smart idea, to put elastic around your pad, sort of like a fitted bottom sheet for the bed. I just have some layers of flannel sheet and gigantic beach towel that I roll out, but this is worth a try. I am definitely going to adopt this idea for my table.
Also see this clever portable folding cardboard cutting table. Not widely available yet, but congrats to the person came up with this idea.