Morning ducks! OK, so who’s off all week to celebrate our independence from evil overlords? I gotta tell you – the company I work for is based in the UK, and I have fairly frequent phonecalls with my colleagues ‘across the pond’ (THEY all love saying across the pond, I feel sort of silly when I say it!) Other than remembering the time difference and the impossibly long combination numbers necessary to punch in before I even GET to the phone call, the most difficult part of working with my UK colleagues is our ongoing communication gap. I’ll spare you the details, but I WILL say I’m looking forward to getting them back for all the Jubilee talk by crowing about our upcoming 4th of July celebration…

Anyway – I thought I’d post pictures of my crafty little skirt for my crafty little sewing table.

So here it is…

Mindblowing, isn’t it?

I reused my Ikea sewing table from the Minneapolis sewing room – I really like the nice, long length and the relatively shallow depth. But, since it’s visible from every single room on the first floor, I wasn’t exactly in love with it’s plain metal legginess, or it’s general laminate non-charm.

[Ikea Vika Amon/Vika Adils table]

Plus, I wanted to cram a bit more storage under the table if possible!  I decided to make a table skirt, although in general, table skirts are one of those things that I think are super cute when I see them in magazines and blogs but when I make them for myself I end up thinking they’re a little too precious. Also, as I’ve said before, I’m not in love with the feeling that fabric is trying to eat me alive when I sit down at a table, whether to eat or sew!

Here’s a real world picture of what it looked like pre-skirt. Not terrible, just a lotta legs and cords.

I put a reasonably ridonkulous amount of thought and planning into how I was going to mount the skirt. Let’s take a little trip down that road, shall we?

ELASTIC! Hmmmm…. the table’s 78″ long, that’s a LONG expanse for elastic. I’d have to make it really tight to support the weight of the skirt. And I’ll be sticking my legs under the table all the time and disturbing the elastic. I had visions of the elastic ‘popping’ off in the upwards direction and slamming the serger and sewing machine into the wall. Next…

VELCRO! Uh-uh. Velcro’s, like, $98 a linear foot and I need a lot of feet. Plus I hate sewing it. And how would that work? I’d need SUPER STICKY Velcro to attach to the table, but I’d want the sew-in kind for the fabric. Do they make Velcro that’s sticky on one side and sew in on the other? I suppose I could just sew on the sticky stuff, but egad, how many needles will I ruin in the process? And, remember? It’s $98 a foot? Next…

CUP HOOKS! I’ve seen these mentioned more than once on blogs. It sounds like a grand solution. Except that I’ve never actually SEEN a cup hook apart from the ones that were in my grandma’s china cabinet. I took those out. Are they still in the tool box? What would I use as the hanging rod? And I bet they screw in. The thought of screwing in all those little hooks. Upwards. Oh, my aching arms… Next!

(As an aside, I have since realized that not only are cup hooks ubiquitous at our usual retail suspects, they even sell them in the hook and screw section at my Target!! You can’t find gloves in January at target, but they have cup hooks! Who knew?)

So what did I go with? ELECTRICAL CONDUIT!!

This metal pipe stuff comes in different sizes (I used half inch) and there are these handy straps to attach it to whatever you’re attaching it to. I got mine from Lowes and got the straps on the left – that look like rainbows with screw holes on both sides? Since I got half inch conduit, I got 1″ straps, so there’d be some breathing room and it wouldn’t be totally flush against the bottom of the table – giving the fabric clearance to slide back and forth.

The stuff is CHEAP!! Ten feet of conduit is less than two dollars and the straps are 4 for $1. Plus, they will cut the conduit down to size for you, just like lumber, and they have a nice little tool that smooths the edges so you don’t accidentally cut off your finger while working with it!

The stuff worked, but I’ll admit it wasn’t ideal, mostly due to my planning. Biggest issues:

1. Even with the 1″ straps, the fabric is TIGHT against the bottom of the table top. It’s hard to move the fabric back and forth.

2. Installation was a bear because we had to put the fabric on the conduit, then attach to the table – we couldn’t slide on after or as with a cup hook solution, install the ‘mount’ (hooks) first and then the rod and curtain second.

3. I didn’t take into account the leg placement and where the rod would hit. The straps have that flat place for the screws, which means the rod is stepped back about an inch from the very front edge. I almost didn’t get the sucker on. AND I nearly couldn’t fit my storage bin in with the rod in place!

4. Related to #2 & #3 – I put up the front of the skirt and the sides of the skirt separately. I knew the rod and curtain would have to go up and once, and while they DO make 90 degree turn pieces, I didn’t want to have to deal with mounting all three sides at once. SO… I didn’t want too much pipe showing at each corner and had to deal with leg placement, which meant the straps were about 6″ in from each corner. I had to cut slits in the upper edge of the skirt to make way for the strap, and it was HARD to hold the rod, curtain and strap precariously balanced in the little opening I made, while lying on my back, attempting to drill upwards. Thank god for magnetic phillips head drill bits!

Here’s a photo of what I’m talking about – I just cut about a 2″ vertical slit, so I could work the mounting strap in before mounting

OK, so enough complaining about my mounting system!

I started out by doing a lot of figuring. I wanted the skirt almost tailored looking, but not chintzy. I measured carefully so the skirt would JUST hit the floor – and I used about 1.5 times the width of the total length – just a bit under that – so it wouldn’t be too puffy.

Graph paper is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? I’m addicted to the post it graph paper pads!

Another consideration was that I wanted to easily sit and reach the foot pedals at each machine PLUS access my storage unit. The front of the skirt is actually four panels, they meet in front of each machine and the storage unit in the center – here you can see the gaps in front of the machines.

I used a giant drop cloth from Lowes. I was in a hurry, so I just started cutting. The material smelled pretty awful, though – chemical city. I just hung the panels over the fence and let them hang out in the sunshine for the day. It got rid of the smell, but I definitely recommend washing first. The dropcloths at Lowes are a poly/cotton mix, so they wash up pretty well.

I cut the skirt, using the already hemmed edges for the bottom hem and adding just about 2″ for the upper fold. I cut with a rotary cutter, but then went back and trimmed off less than a quarter inch along the top edge with pinking shears to ‘finish’ that edge before turning down 2″ and stitching to make the pocket for the rod.

I needed to piece a bit to get the full length. I did that FIRST, attaching with my serger, then I sewed the upper pocket, THEN I cut into the individual panels. This kept the length and the pocket consistent. I finished the vertical edges with my serger – I had to undo a bit at the top, flatten, serger, then re-finish the pocket. Not sure if that makes sense, except think what would happen if I just ran each vertical side straight through the serger AFTER having sewn the pockets – can’t get the rod through!

I didn’t want my skirt showing off my business where the two pieces met at the corners, so I attached a couple of lengths of twine to tie the edges together – two up high by the rod, two a bit mid-way down. I just tied a knot in one end, then sewed back and forth a few times. Twine unravels easily, so when I use as ties, I tie the knot so it doesn’t unravel when tugged.

There was a little of the conduit sticking out, so I wrapped the ties around it for a bit to camouflage it.

For storage I reused one of the Antonius units from Ikea – these were under my cutting table in Minneapolis. Since everything’s Ikea, the dimensions are perfect to just slide that sucker RIGHT under there. I had to remove the center back leg from the table, but the table is MUCH more sturdy with the unit there, it takes a lot of the weight. Previously, the table felt a bit like it was going to walk away while I was serging! Now it’s rock-solid.

Bottom drawer is for mending and restyling projects.

I reserved the two middle drawers for sewing projects. How sad and empty they are!

Top drawer is for sewing supplies (needles, parts, oil, tissue strips, canned air), pens, bobbins and an Ikea bin with pattern making supplies. The plastic bin is AWESOME! It’s an insert for their clear plastic Rubbermaid-style bins, but it fits perfectly and has a handle for easy removal and bringing over to the cutting table!

My little sewing chair, tucked in and ready to go! This is also from Ikea, and good for sewing, except the little legs stick out far and I stub my toes on them! But it swivels, so easy in and out and it’s reasonably comfortable! I might make a little cover for it someday, but don’t mind the super-contemporary style, since it’s natural wood.




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