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Do you have a sewing station? I need a sturdy, affordable tabletop


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If I just look at affordable tabletops online, I can't tell if they will be sturdy enough for sewing machine use. 

If I look at examples of sewing stations, they are all refurbished solid wooden desks or an armoire converted to a sewing station. I would love to do something like that in the future, but don't really have the time to turn this into a huge project right now.

So, do any of you have a simple affordable tabletop for sewing that you would recommend? 

This is for dd, to get her started if that matters. 

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You want the machine to drop in or is on top fine? I've never had a drop in, so to me that's nice but not deal breaker. I don't like the waffle plastic tops of folding tables. Other that that literally ANYTHING will work. If it's small put a stack of drawers beside or add a card table as needed. (Card table is for overflow , not the machine.) Whatever you can afford will be good enough.

I have a long laminate counter (buy at Home Depot) with metal supports dh welded. I've sewn on the floor and standing. It's all good. Personally I think the chair (rolling, adjustable) and lighting are more important.

Edited by PeterPan
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 I have a good rolling adjustable chair and good lighting. 

I don't like the folding table surface either. I'm with you on that.

Dd just doesn't do as much sewing as she would like because she has to set it all up and break everything down and put it away every time she wants to do a project. Its time consuming. She's been asking for a permanent set up and I am trying to bring things together to make that happen for her. 

What about a glass surface?

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1 minute ago, JennW in SoCal said:

I LOVE my Sew EZ table. It folds up if I need to put it away or take it to a quilting retreat, but I use it as my regular sewing table. The machine drops in, it doesn't take up that much room and I can use other table tops for cutting or laying out. 

http://www.seweziusa.com/sewezi-portable-table.html

That looks stellar !! My dd could use that in her dorm, hehe. She has her machine with her and it's on the built in desk. ?

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I have an old library desk that I use but we also have this setup from IKEA in our office area. Occasionally I set my embroidery machine up on it. https://m.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/spr/39216674/  It’s the right height and has plenty of space for sewing. It’s IKEA so it won’t be around forever but we have used it for about 5 years now. 

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3 hours ago, PeterPan said:

Do you have room to go bigger? Measure your machine but that desk looks a fuzz small.

It is a small corner of the room. 4x3 space. We have a huge cutting mat that we use on the floor and an over the door drop down ironing board, but we need something to have the machine on all the time. I guess I could move her dresser and use that larger space instead but then her dresser would be on the opposite side of the room from her closet. I don't think she'd like that for putting laundry away. Hmmm... have to think...

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My sewing machine is sitting on our old dining room table.  We got it 29 years ago when we first got married.  It later became our homeschool/craft table.  Underneath, I have several storage units. 

Parallel to that table is a smaller kitchen table a neighbor was getting rid of several years ago.  My cutting board and various supplies and projects are on that one.  There are some storage tables underneath. 

I put a drum stool that turns easily and height can be adjusted between the 2.  I have a storage container with 2 deep drawers between the 2 and a smaller thinner storage unit beside the cutting board table.  That storage unit originally went between my washer and dryer but when we moved, it didn't fit so I repurposed it.  It is the perfect size for scissors, rotary cutters, etc.

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3 hours ago, JennW in SoCal said:

I LOVE my Sew EZ table. It folds up if I need to put it away or take it to a quilting retreat, but I use it as my regular sewing table. The machine drops in, it doesn't take up that much room and I can use other table tops for cutting or laying out. 

http://www.seweziusa.com/sewezi-portable-table.html

Love this! Probably above my current budget but keeping this idea for a future upgrade!

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33 minutes ago, Rachel said:

I have an old library desk that I use but we also have this setup from IKEA in our office area. Occasionally I set my embroidery machine up on it. https://m.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/spr/39216674/  It’s the right height and has plenty of space for sewing. It’s IKEA so it won’t be around forever but we have used it for about 5 years now. 

I love this! Now I'm trying to figure out how to move things around to make this fit! ?

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3 minutes ago, HollyDay said:

My sewing machine is sitting on our old dining room table.  We got it 29 years ago when we first got married.  It later became our homeschool/craft table.  Underneath, I have several storage units. 

Parallel to that table is a smaller kitchen table a neighbor was getting rid of several years ago.  My cutting board and various supplies and projects are on that one.  There are some storage tables underneath. 

I put a drum stool that turns easily and height can be adjusted between the 2.  I have a storage container with 2 deep drawers between the 2 and a smaller thinner storage unit beside the cutting board table.  That storage unit originally went between my washer and dryer but when we moved, it didn't fit so I repurposed it.  It is the perfect size for scissors, rotary cutters, etc.

Your set up sounds amazing! Is all this in its own sewing room?

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14 minutes ago, regentrude said:

would something like this work? https://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/S29932181/

 

I think it will work! Do you have one of these? Its not wobbly?

Maybe my desk is old or needs tightened or something but its wobbly. So everything I see looks like it will behave like my desk. ?

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Mine is a custom built in table that DH made for me, for which I waited a decade after we bought this house, so that’s not much help, but I feel your DD’s pain. Could you stalk Craigslist or FB Marketplace for an old fashioned office desk?  I have one of those for my schoolroom desk; it’s not the most attractive thing in the world because it’s a tad beat up, but it is massive, solid, and has a lovely smooth surface and big drawers. It would be great for sewing. 

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15 hours ago, MrsRobinson said:

It is a small corner of the room. 4x3 space. We have a huge cutting mat that we use on the floor and an over the door drop down ironing board, but we need something to have the machine on all the time. I guess I could move her dresser and use that larger space instead but then her dresser would be on the opposite side of the room from her closet. I don't think she'd like that for putting laundry away. Hmmm... have to think...

Since you have 4', check out this https://www.walmart.com/ip/Lifetime-4-Adjustable-Folding-Table-White-Granite-80160/20690048?wmlspartner=wlpa&selectedSellerId=0&adid=22222222227015141433&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=40844513192&wl4=pla-78657635072&wl5=9014877&wl6=&wl7=&wl8=&wl9=pla&wl10=8175035&wl11=online&wl12=20690048&wl13=&veh=sem&gclid=CjwKCAiAuMTfBRAcEiwAV4SDkRrjr3HCUH9MaxbYldj_uDh9PfbSL-0ku4D81nbRFSzVkI1rFtoBBBoCNAQQAvD_BwE  My two cents would be try the 4' table from Walmart. The tables I have that are that material are 6' and I *can* sew on them but I don't like the bounce. But I think with a 4' table, like ForgetMeNot says, there's going to be less bounce. And the handy thing is it's walmart, so you can bring it home, try it, and return if you hate it. But my guess is it will be nice!!

This particular table is 24", so she might be able to get her cutting mat and machine on. Maybe not? You could use a joanns coupon and get an 18X24 and that would definitely fit beside it. They also make mats that cut on one side, iron on the other. I have big mats, but I also have small mats. There's never really overkill with cutting mats, lol. What is she sewing? I use my big mats for bigger things I'm cutting (long runs of fabric, clothing, etc.) and smaller mats right where I'm working for quilting and smaller cuts. I like having the smaller mat beside my machine because it keeps things from running away. :biggrin:

The tricky thing about the folding tables is the angled parts get in the way of drawer stacks. So if you could find an old dining table at the thrift store, it would make storage underneath easier. You might want to think about cans (open storage) on a pegboard wall or installing some simple shelving or something. I use drawers for things that are messy like elastic, buttons, trims, quilting rulers, etc. I use open bins for things that I need to access immediately. I have a caddy that I keep my most frequently accessed things in, but if there's not a lot of room on the surface for a caddy then the pegboard with open cups could really work. See if this gets you some ideas. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/226868899951427034/?lp=true  I'm really loving the shoe caddy over the door idea too. If it's going to be in her room, she needs some storage to keep things tidy so her space feels peaceful. 

 If you go with the 24X48 table and the 18X24 mat, she might have room for a caddy or sewing box behind her machine and some cups for storage between the mat and the wall. Ikea has some cute cup like containers in their kitchen section. They're very stable and only maybe $2 a piece. I have 3-4 of them and use them to hold scads of markers, scissors, etc., but they would work great for sewing stuff. They're not going to tip like a single cup. I can't find them right now on the site, sorry. They had them last time I was there. I know someone who used tins, and this time of year you'd find cute tins really cheap at walmart. Just look for something vertical that could hold scissors, pens, seam rippers, seam measurers, that kind of thing, in that 6" space. And if she finds bigger tins after Christmas, they could hold her elastic, bulkier stuff, and go on shelves in a closet, out of the way.

Edited by PeterPan
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Thanks for all the great ideas! I think I am going to take this week to check out some thrift stores and browse used sale sites. Your desk sounds lovely, @happypamama! If I don't find anything by the end of the week, I'll grab a cheap table at Ikea or Wal-Mart.

The storage is definitely a concern. She has ADHD and does really really need a peaceful space. She also really really needs a creative outlet, lol! So I am thinking that the tabletop will just be the machine and maybe a couple of cans of supplies, scissors, seam ripper, fabric marker. The rest will be in a rolling cart of drawers under the table, if its open. I'll have her sew a table skirt to hide the visual clutter. If it has drawers, problem solved! I could also do vertical storage as long as it was very streamlined and uniform. So a shelf with a stack of tins (love the tin idea, @PeterPan) or maybe a little wall cabinet with doors to close it all away.

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If you want a little stocking stuffer, you might get her a roll of medical paper. She can use it to draw patterns and ideas. My dd made her own patterns, so we went through a lot of paper! You could probably mount it inside her closet or on that pegboard, hmm.

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1 hour ago, PeterPan said:

If you want a little stocking stuffer, you might get her a roll of medical paper. She can use it to draw patterns and ideas. My dd made her own patterns, so we went through a lot of paper! You could probably mount it inside her closet or on that pegboard, hmm.

Freezer paper works well too and you can iron it to the fabric you are cutting. 

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My MIL had these adorable sewing-themed sewing weights (shapes like scissors, etc.) that I got when she passed. They come in lots of shapes, very useful. I agree pins are tedious. I cut everything possible with a rotary cutter, lol.

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28 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

My MIL had these adorable sewing-themed sewing weights (shapes like scissors, etc.) that I got when she passed. They come in lots of shapes, very useful. I agree pins are tedious. I cut everything possible with a rotary cutter, lol.

Those weights sound cute! I love my rotary cutter but it scares me with the kids, lol! I keep it in the cabinet above the fridge that even I need a chair to get to. ? If dd wants to use it, I insist on supervising. Probably overkill but that blade is so sharp! ?

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How old is the dc? And do you have a safety rotary cutter or regular? This is the old style I started with years ago, and I agree it's wicked dangerous. OLFA Rotary Cutter RTY-2/G  This Omnigrid 45mm Pressure Sensitive Safety Rotary Cutter is a different design and much safer.

My dd is very ADHD (on meds, definitely ADHD, lol) and yes I spent a lot of time instructing her, supervising, training, because I've talked with enough people who've sliced their fingers open to know it happens. One impulsive, unthinking moment, and boom. So I kept them out, but I taught her. In the early years, it was touch them you die. Then I went to you may use them while I'm right here and only right here. Then it was you may use them while I'm 5 feet away. Then it became independent, because I saw she had learned good habits. And I never let her use the old style (which I still have) and I always went through safety mantras (where are your fingers, always use a ruler, no fingers on top, etc.). 

If you try running over your nail with the safety cutter (don't do it, but if you do) it's not much damage. The worst injury stories I've heard are always with the regular style, any kind where the person might be tempted to press down. Squigs me just to think about it, ugh.

I also didn't keep them put up with my ds either, and he's totally impulsive and challenging, lol. But I pretty much threatened him within an inch of his life and told him they were knives and that if he touched them (think imprecatory thoughts like being sold to gypies or banned from the basement forever or...). 

So do as you think best. I agree they're a safety issue and need significant instruction and practice with supervision to develop safe habits. My dd is 19, and I would say from about 14 on she knew pretty well it was her fault if she did something impulsive and didn't pay attention and cut herself. Same gig with a mandolin. I got one, and they really freak me out. I just use it occasionally for things and only got it because I had a real deal. One time I cautioned her she was using unsafe habits and she proceeded anyway and cut herself. I walked away, because it was her problem, her responsibility. So if they've been taught and are ready to have that responsibility, that's fine. But yeah, there is a lot of teaching that proceeds that, especially with ADHD. 

Does she have siblings who might be tempted? Same gig, teach respect for the tools. If they touch them, they die. These tools are important and expensive and they're not to be used for paper, etc. I leave out all my swanky scissors and snips and things, and I have a lot of them because I am scatterbrained and don't like to hunt for things I lose, meaning I need duplicates, lol. If ds touches my stuff, he gets a quick reprimand. Sewing tools are as serious as guns or anything else here. They're not his, not his to touch, nothing.

I taught a little quilting class using an Eleanor Burns book one year, and it was tons of fun. Quilting is such a great way to build skills quickly, because you have highly structured, finite projects. My dd had no interest in quilting, so she was just doing it because I said to. My ds was crawling at the time, so she was probably 10, turning 11. At that stage she was totally supervised for a rotary cutter. Probably by 12 she was independent, my guess. Those years are a blur, lol. Definitely by 14 she was independent. In the class we had kids from maybe that 9-ish to teen and adult. The 12 yo was quicker to learn and more ready to be independent. The adults, ironically enough, were the more likely to cut themselves, because they wanted to rush and not pay attention and do things their own way, lol. 

Well have fun! Take pics when she's done. Sewing is a great thing. Would she like a mannequin next? You can buy them on ebay. Like not now, but by 13-14, definitely think about it. My dd's had a name and she padded her out to look like her. :biggrin:

Edited by PeterPan
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40 minutes ago, MrsRobinson said:

Dd likes to do freezer paper stencil projects. Her little creations are pretty cute! ?

Ok, now I need to look this up. I'm wanting to make a list of sewing projects my ds could do, and that sounds like something I could adapt to boy themes. 

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19 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

How old is the dc? And do you have a safety rotary cutter or regular? This is the old style I started with years ago, and I agree it's wicked dangerous. OLFA Rotary Cutter RTY-2/G  This Omnigrid 45mm Pressure Sensitive Safety Rotary Cutter is a different design and much safer.

My dd is very ADHD (on meds, definitely ADHD, lol) and yes I spent a lot of time instructing her, supervising, training, because I've talked with enough people who've sliced their fingers open to know it happens. One impulsive, unthinking moment, and boom. So I kept them out, but I taught her. In the early years, it was touch them you die. Then I went to you may use them while I'm right here and only right here. Then it was you may use them while I'm 5 feet away. Then it became independent, because I saw she had learned good habits. And I never let her use the old style (which I still have) and I always went through safety mantras (where are your fingers, always use a ruler, no fingers on top, etc.). 

If you try running over your nail with the safety cutter (don't do it, but if you do) it's not much damage. The worst injury stories I've heard are always with the regular style, any kind where the person might be tempted to press down. Squigs me just to think about it, ugh.

I also didn't keep them put up with my ds either, and he's totally impulsive and challenging, lol. But I pretty much threatened him within an inch of his life and told him they were knives and that if he touched them (think imprecatory thoughts like being sold to gypies or banned from the basement forever or...). 

So do as you think best. I agree they're a safety issue and need significant instruction and practice with supervision to develop safe habits. My dd is 19, and I would say from about 14 on she knew pretty well it was her fault if she did something impulsive and didn't pay attention and cut herself. Same gig with a mandolin. I got one, and they really freak me out. I just use it occasionally for things and only got it because I had a real deal. One time I cautioned her she was using unsafe habits and she proceeded anyway and cut herself. I walked away, because it was her problem, her responsibility. So if they've been taught and are ready to have that responsibility, that's fine. But yeah, there is a lot of teaching that proceeds that, especially with ADHD. 

Does she have siblings who might be tempted? Same gig, teach respect for the tools. If they touch them, they die. These tools are important and expensive and they're not to be used for paper, etc. I leave out all my swanky scissors and snips and things, and I have a lot of them because I am scatterbrained and don't like to hunt for things I lose, meaning I need duplicates, lol. If ds touches my stuff, he gets a quick reprimand. Sewing tools are as serious as guns or anything else here. They're not his, not his to touch, nothing.

I taught a little quilting class using an Eleanor Burns book one year, and it was tons of fun. Quilting is such a great way to build skills quickly, because you have highly structured, finite projects. My dd had no interest in quilting, so she was just doing it because I said to. My ds was crawling at the time, so she was probably 10, turning 11. At that stage she was totally supervised for a rotary cutter. Probably by 12 she was independent, my guess. Those years are a blur, lol. Definitely by 14 she was independent. In the class we had kids from maybe that 9-ish to teen and adult. The 12 yo was quicker to learn and more ready to be independent. The adults, ironically enough, were the more likely to cut themselves, because they wanted to rush and not pay attention and do things their own way, lol. 

Well have fun! Take pics when she's done. Sewing is a great thing. Would she like a mannequin next? You can buy them on ebay. Like not now, but by 13-14, definitely think about it. My dd's had a name and she padded her out to look like her. :biggrin:

She's almost 11. She does well with safety issues, just fairly unpredictable when she'll have an ADHD moment. She's not medicated. Supplements and an artificial free diet have noticeably improved things. If her patterns trend the same, we might need to go the medication route when she starts driving but who knows where she'll be by then. ? 

Its really her youngest brother that is the concern with the rotary cutter. Mine is not pressure sensitive. I might need to get one of those. He is very fearless, a climber, and not the best listener, to put it nicely ?. He has turned me into a paranoid mom! ? 

 

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30 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Ok, now I need to look this up. I'm wanting to make a list of sewing projects my ds could do, and that sounds like something I could adapt to boy themes. 

Yes! We have done lots of boy projects! No sew, too! We did a fox in a hoodie project where the fox head peeks out one side of the hoodie pocket and the bushy tail pops out the other side! 

Dinosaurs and dragons were also boy hits here. ?

Edited by MrsRobinson
Whoa, auto correct had fun with me there!
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22 hours ago, MrsRobinson said:

Your set up sounds amazing! Is all this in its own sewing room?

I wish!  It is in the 4th and smallest "bedroom" in the house.  We have our computer, printer, and some bookshelves in there. The closet is a storage closet for "stuff."  I also have a couple drying racks in there to use for clothes I don't want to put in the dryer.  Some of my PT stuff is stored there too, so I can do my exercises.  More cluttered than I would like.  But it works.

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25 minutes ago, Rachel said:

@PeterPan thanks for the link on the safety rotary cutter! My brother actually cut the very tip of his finger off with one of the other style when he was in high school. I still like my rotary cutter but have been gunshy to let my kids use it. 

Ouch, that sounds awful! There are others out now too, but that's a kind I personally have and can vouch for. The blade doesn't even expose till you push the handle down and the blade goes down into the fabric, not up. As you roll forward, the plastic leads, not the blade. They're just much better designs now than they were a few years ago when maybe we were stocking our stuff. I've seen people using the Fiskars safety kind, etc. too. I bought several of the safety kind when I switched over and I told dd she was NEVER to touch the regular/old style. 

My mother told me you'd DIE if you put your finger in an electric socket, so I seem to have always parented in these imprecatory terms, lol.

Here's a really nice video that demonstrates an Olfa safety rotary cutter and the lady here gives some good tips on safety habits. So smart to teach our kids safety habits and mantras. And she does say to keep them up. :biggrin:  

https://www.nationalquilterscircle.com/video/rotary-cutter-safety-004014/

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6 hours ago, MrsRobinson said:

Yes! We have done lots of boy projects! No sew, too! We did a fox in a hoodie project where the fox head peeks out one side of the hoodie pocket and the bushy tail pops out the other side! 

Dinosaurs and dragons were also boy hits here. ?

Those sound adorable!!!! And you're right, I hadn't thought about no-sew, hmm! 

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6 hours ago, MrsRobinson said:

She's almost 11. She does well with safety issues, just fairly unpredictable when she'll have an ADHD moment. She's not medicated. Supplements and an artificial free diet have noticeably improved things. If her patterns trend the same, we might need to go the medication route when she starts driving but who knows where she'll be by then. ? 

Yeah, that's where we were. We ate organic, lots of veges, took omega 3, blah blah, and she was livable. We finally sprang for meds at 16 and she wished she had had them 2 years earlier. She didn't really wish she had had them before that, but definitely two years earlier, so that she would have been on the meds for all of high school. And yeah, WAY safer driving with the meds. They bump processing speed and attention and ability to handle all the stimuli (noise, etc.). She never drives without her meds. I've encouraged her to find career/lifestyle options that would allow her the option to be med-free later, but for now she needs them. Also, her ACT scores went up by 50%, which I had not anticipated. That's the difference between no scholarship and top scholarships. Kinda makes the cost of the meds seem small. She likes the function of them and that she's more functional, but that score bump was not something I had heard people talking about. It was HUGE. And that's with no accommodations even. Just took the ACT without meds and then 3-4 months later with and her score jumped that much.

To her it was a really big deal to be able to show what she was, to be able to have her outside finally match the inside. Also, even when you modify and go out of the box (which we did a TON for high school), reality is it's still hard and a brain drain. I would definitely try the meds as you start high school or high school level work, just to smooth that out and see if they make a difference.

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2 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

Yeah, that's where we were. We ate organic, lots of veges, took omega 3, blah blah, and she was livable. We finally sprang for meds at 16 and she wished she had had them 2 years earlier. She didn't really wish she had had them before that, but definitely two years earlier, so that she would have been on the meds for all of high school. And yeah, WAY safer driving with the meds. They bump processing speed and attention and ability to handle all the stimuli (noise, etc.). She never drives without her meds. I've encouraged her to find career/lifestyle options that would allow her the option to be med-free later, but for now she needs them. Also, her ACT scores went up by 50%, which I had not anticipated. That's the difference between no scholarship and top scholarships. Kinda makes the cost of the meds seem small. She likes the function of them and that she's more functional, but that score bump was not something I had heard people talking about. It was HUGE. And that's with no accommodations even. Just took the ACT without meds and then 3-4 months later with and her score jumped that much.

To her it was a really big deal to be able to show what she was, to be able to have her outside finally match the inside. Also, even when you modify and go out of the box (which we did a TON for high school), reality is it's still hard and a brain drain. I would definitely try the meds as you start high school or high school level work, just to smooth that out and see if they make a difference.

Thanks for sharing. This is so good to learn how things are going for a girl a few years older than mine and what I might expect in the future. We only know boys with ADHD irl and while I might be generalizing a bit, their behaviors are very different from dd's. 

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The houses where I grew up had sewing cupboards.  When you wanted to sew you opened the double doors and everything was ready.  When you were finished you turned everything off and shut the door. I did something similar with a freestanding wardrobe.

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For a little more work space, you could use a folding tray table. It's something she could set next to her as she works and where she keeps those things that she keeps picking up and down like scissors, seam ripper, pins, etc. Then when she's done working, she can fold it back up and slip it in her closet or some other out of the way place.

 

 

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Have you looked at local thrift shops? We went on this same search this summer and had a choice of three different sewing tables at prices ranging from $20-$50. We ended up opting for a $25 sewing table. We do need to make some adjustments to it so the sewing machine will fit into it properly since it was made for a sewing machine that was narrower than the one we have.

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On 11/17/2018 at 1:06 PM, MrsRobinson said:

If I just look at affordable tabletops online, I can't tell if they will be sturdy enough for sewing machine use. 

If I look at examples of sewing stations, they are all refurbished solid wooden desks or an armoire converted to a sewing station. I would love to do something like that in the future, but don't really have the time to turn this into a huge project right now.

So, do any of you have a simple affordable tabletop for sewing that you would recommend? 

This is for dd, to get her started if that matters. 

I just use a folding table. It isn't cute, but it's very functional. I love it. ?

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