Small Sewing Space Solution: Portable Ironing/Cutting Table

Brooks Ann Camper Bridal Couture

As I work with my students through my online courses, we often talk about solutions for working in small home sewing spaces. While it’s fantastic if you have room for a large professional pinnable-top sewing/drafting/cutting table (like the one I show you how to create here), I also understand that most people don’t have the space for such a large and heavy permanent table.

In fact, until I moved into my studio at the Eno River Mill last year, neither did I.

For the first 8+ years of my custom wedding dressmaking business, I was working out of my 850sf home in a space that’s approximately 11’x12′. By the time I moved my business out of the house in 2014, every nook and cranny was filled with “stuff”.

Brooks Ann Camper Bridal Couture

While it was essential to my business to have a large professional work table, I wasn’t quite able to fit one that was full-size. My handsome husband Charles came up with a clever solution.

Enter the portable table extender …

Charles took a sturdy ironing board base and added a stable pinnable top, just like the one on my work table. It is easily tucked away just like an ironing board (only much heavier… hey, we can’t have it all…) and very useful for those big project days.

Brooks Ann Camper Bridal Couture

If I had a project that required larger cutting/drafting space, I’d set the side of my extender on blocks added to the side of my current table. Instantly wider!

Brooks Ann Camper Bridal Couture

I suppose you could also find a creative way to use this portable “extender” as your main table, if you don’t have any space for a permanent work station.

It also doubles as an ironing/pressing station!

My home sewing space also didn’t have a proper ironing station (like the fabulous one I have now, which I will share in my next post!). So, I also used this clever contraption as an ironing table when I wanted to do large tasks, like pressing the full width of fabrics onto a roll. I made a pad for its top out of canvas and quilt batting which was also easily stored away when not in use. The pad keeps the steam away from the tabletop and gives a nice surface for ironing.

Brooks Ann Camper Bridal Couture

To make the “table”:

Find a sturdy ironing board base and take off any padding or fabrics.

To create the top, cut a piece of sheet good (plywood, particle board, chip board…) to your desired size. (Mine is 58″x20″) and attach it to a layer of homasote (which is what you can pin into) cut to the same size.

Secure the top to the ironing board base. Charles did this by screwing wood blocks from underneath.

Cover the top with paper and tape around the edges.

Brooks Ann Camper Bridal Couture

Brooks Ann Camper Bridal Couture

To make the ironing pad, I simply took quilt batting and cut it approximately the size of my table top. I centered and sandwiched the batting inside two layers of canvas cut a few inches larger all the way around. I zigged the batting in place and quickly turned under and “hemmed” the raw edges.

Brooks Ann Camper Bridal Couture

Brooks Ann Camper Bridal Couture

Nothing too special. Before making this “fancy” one, I used a folded wool blanket with a sheet over it.


Other ideas?

This is just one idea for creating work stations in a small space. Get creative to come up with something that works for you!

A woman in my online course Skirt Skills shared her solution:

“My work table upstairs is a tad to small to pin wide fabric and square it….especially with my sewing machine and jewelry/soldering station. It is said necessity is the mother of invention! I went to the lumber yard and bought 3 – 2×4 feet pieces of homasote and I taped craft paper to them. Now my dining room table can work as a pinning area and when I am done, the pieces are small enough to store in a closet!”

Brooks Ann Camper Bridal Couture

What do you think? How do you work on large projects in small spaces? Do you think you’ll try any of these ideas?


NEXT POST: I’ll share how I created my new permanent ironing station!

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10 Responses

  1. What a great idea! I have been searching for ideas for a cutting table that would work in a small space and this idea is perfect! Thanks so much for posting this!

  2. This is brilliant! I think you’ve just solved my problem. I need a large surface to cut, pin, and iron quilts and blankets. I have a lot of trouble squaring my projects since the only flat surface available is my bed. My tiny house doesn’t have space for a permanent table. This idea may just do the trick! I’m toying with the idea of getting two identical ironing boards to make one very large surface. If I make them both the exact same size, I can tuck them away behind a door in my utility room. You are a lifesaver!

  3. I had acquired a cutting table with folding legs, several years ago. Top is plywood with heavy vinyl on it. When I moved the sewing area from the basement to a spare room, where could I store this table? My husband found casters that he attached to the underside of the table. When the legs are folded up, the table glides under the bed, completely out of everyone’s way. Now the ironing board. Had to hide it too as it is in a spare bedroom. A set of metal, over the door hooks, the ironing board hangs on it. The door can open all the way and the board is completely out of the way. Some if of the hooks are still accessible for guests clothes. Now what to do with all the leftover fabric???? I have aļot that isn’t really big enough to do
    much with. So far I am not a quilter so what do I do with it all? Sort it and send the small pieces to the 2nd hand store, labelled “for quilting”?

    1. Fantastic ideas for your table and ironing board! Leftover fabric could be made into bias tape, or used for small gifts, or for appliqué, or you could donate it… Maybe there’s even someone you know who would love it… Good luck!

  4. I always used my dining room table, for lack of space and other resources, but it is a little low and not quite big enough. Then I had to make my daughter’s wedding gown and realised that I really needed a bigger cutting table. I bought two ironing boards of the right height for me, and a sheet of 8 x 4 ft plywood. I covered the plywood with thin batting and over that a sheet of textured vinyl; stapled it to the underside of the wood. I found the vinyl was smooth enough to straighten fabric easily, but still “held” the fabric. I could even gently pin into it. When I’m done, I just store it on its side against a wall behind some furniture. along with the “legs”. I use it to this day, although my dad helped me to make it a little smaller afterwards. I would have loved to use something like homasote, but it is unavailable in South Africa, where I live.

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Hi there! I'm Brooks Ann.

I’m a former professional costumer and couture dressmaker for one-of-a-kind bridalwear located in Hillsborough, North Carolina, who teaches custom garment sewing too the sew-curious online.

My blog mostly follows along with the couture process of how each heirloom-quality custom wedding dress was made from idea to wedding day, as well as other interesting tidbits related to sewing, weddings, and body positivity.

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