When I first started sewing, I thought all I needed was a sewing machine, a few threads and needles, and fabric. Fair enough, these are the essentials to start off your sewing journey.
When I progressed further, I realised I needed something else: a sewing cabinet. You’ll reach a point where getting one becomes inevitable. A messy workspace equals a messy creative mind — while some people may argue that that’s a good thing, I beg to differ.
On my quest to get the perfect one, I’ve done quite a bit of research into what to look for, what features it should have and what to avoid. By the end of this article, you’ll understand everything there is to know about choosing a sewing cabinet.
I recommend reading our article about the best sewing cabinets of 2021 right after to give you an even clearer picture of what you should get.
Why Get A Sewing Cabinet?
You might be thinking, why should you spend hundreds of dollars on a sewing cabinet? Surely, boxes and drawers would do just fine. I thought the same thing in the beginning, but as soon as I got one, my sewing journey changed forever.
Everything was simpler and I look forward to sewing every single time — even more than before. Having everything organised did wonders for me.
A sewing cabinet keeps everything in one place. You don’t have to rummage around the house for your pair of fabric scissors or dig through the boxes for the right shade of thread. It saves you time as well. I mean, in general, it tidies up your home quite a bit. Just think of it as another piece of furniture for the house, which also doubles up as a sewing accessory.
Not only that, the sewing cabinet acts as a safe creative space for all of your sewing endeavours. When you have everything right in front of you, the flow of inspiration is easier and faster. There’s nothing quite like having a dedicated space for something you’re passionate about.
Also: comfort. Having that space that’s the perfect height with the perfect chair for your sewing activities can get you to sew for longer periods of time — not to mention save you the unfortunate bad posture if you continue to bend over that kitchen table every time you want to sew.
And if you get the right sewing cabinet for yourself, it makes for a hell of an Instagram picture. Aesthetically pleasing and all, you can’t help but upload a “work in progress” Instagram story every now and then.
Sewing Cabinet vs Sewing Table
If you’ve searched online a couple of times, you might be a bit confused as to what the difference is between a sewing cabinet and a sewing table. Believe me, I was at first, too.
I’ll give a brief rundown:
- A sewing cabinet is a dedicated sewing space for your sewing machine and accessories, perfect for organisation and storage.
- A sewing table is pretty similar, but while a sewing cabinet can be a permanent space, a sewing table can be folded and stored away for space-saving purposes. There’s not much storage in comparison.
If you’re wondering which to get, think of what your purpose of getting this piece of furniture will be. If you want it to just serve as a tool for your sewing machine and you don’t really care so much about having a space just for sewing, a sewing table is perfect. If you have little space in your home, a sewing table it is, then.
If you have more room to roam, I would recommend a sewing cabinet. Especially if your end goal is to have a sewing room just for your sewing endeavours, investing in a sewing cabinet is pretty essential.
Sewing cabinets are not only for storage but they can also be used as crafting tables. If you’re thinking of expanding your skillset from just cutting and sewing to include others like pattern making and grading, then a multipurpose sewing cabinet is crucial.
Features of A Sewing Cabinet
So now that you got the basics down of why and what exactly it is, we’re going to look at the most important part — exactly what features are we looking for in a sewing cabinet? Of course, since they are designed specifically for this function, a lot of boxes are already checked from the very beginning. It’s a matter of how one sewing cabinet differs from the other.
With such a saturated market, it can get quite difficult to narrow down on one or two. So we’re here to help. Here are a few features to get you started on finding the perfect sewing cabinet.
Stability of the cabinet
First and foremost, a sewing cabinet has to be extremely stable. You might be thinking, tables are stable in general. Fair enough, but a sewing cabinet has to be even sturdier than any normal computer desk or study table.
This is largely due to the fact that the sewing cabinet will have a sewing machine on top of it. Regardless of what sewing machine you use, the speed of it when it’s in use will cause vibration of the machine. If you use a sewing cabinet that doesn’t have strong legs, the sewing machine will cause a weak table to shake.
With that in mind, get a sewing cabinet that can stand rock solid on the ground. Some sewing cabinets will already have leg stabilisers included, which will stabilise the table even when on uneven ground.
It’s also good to know the power and speed of your sewing machine before purchasing a sewing cabinet to double-check and confirm its durability.
Storage space available
As we mentioned previously, the main difference of a sewing table and a sewing cabinet is that a sewing cabinet offers tons of storage. I mean, that’s exactly what a cabinet is: storage. If you want a piece of furniture to just place your sewing machine on, then get a sewing table. If you want storage space on top of that, a sewing cabinet is your best shot.
When deciding which sewing cabinet to get, think of what you actually need to store in it. Most of the time, you’ll need to have sections for your threads, excess fabric, needles, patterns and other accessories — these are just to name a few. Make a list of what spaces you need before searching for a sewing cabinet.
If you get a sewing cabinet that doesn’t have enough space or sections to store all your tools, then you’ll end up getting more storage units and stack them on top of your sewing cabinet. A half-done project spread across the top of the table is messy enough — we don’t need to add clutters of mess on top of it. What’s the point of a sewing cabinet if we need to get extra space after that?
So long story short, get yourself a sewing cabinet that has ample space for your stuff as well as a working area.
Working Area (surface area of the table)
Speaking of the working area, that brings us to our next point. Sewing cabinets come in various shapes and sizes, as we mentioned, so you have a whole market to browse to find your perfect one. Remember, a sewing cabinet is for storage, but it also works as a working space for your sewing projects.
With that said, take note of the surface area of the table — will it be sufficient enough for not only your sewing machine but other tasks as well? What do you want to do on your sewing cabinet?
For some, it’s just for sewing. For others, they’ll want to do other tasks like ironing, pinning, cutting, drafting, and so on. If you’re the first group of people, you won’t need much space at all. If you’re the second group, I highly recommend getting a table that gives you tons of space.
Keep in mind your original intentions in your home — if you can only afford to sacrifice X amount of space, don’t push yourself to get a sewing cabinet bigger than that. Figure out what you want to prioritise: space at home or space to do all your tasks.
Ease of Assembly
If you’re anything like me, then you don’t work well with any tools. I’m surprised that I can even sew. Various sewing cabinets have various requirements on assembly — some are user-friendly and easy to put together; others can be a nightmare and you might need to ask the husband for help (which we all know, they’re going to help anyway).
Don’t be too worried — there are sewing cabinets that are pre-assembled. This kind will save you the hassle, confusion, headache and time. It might be different for various countries, but pre-assembled cabinets might cost more than the other.
Of course, money is sometimes not the issue. In this case, it might be better for some if you really are not confident in assembling a cabinet on your own. Most cabinets take approximately two to three hours with two people working on it. Would you rather spend a bit extra for a pre-assembled one or have someone assemble for you, or days and weeks trying to get the first two planks joined together? You decide.
Size of sewing cabinet (Height, Width)
This next feature ties together with a few pointers we mentioned before. When it comes to the width, think of the space in your house: where will you put the sewing cabinet? Do you want to be able to fold it into a smaller size or do you not mind it taking up a chunk of area?
Depending on what you are looking for, there’s always an option. Go for compact sewing cabinets if you have a smaller area that you’re willing to give up. Some compact sewing cabinets still offer a ton of storage space — you just have to look for the right one.
Another one to keep in mind is the height of the table. This greatly varies depending on your own height. A sewing cabinet that’s too high or too low for yourself will cause issues for you in the long run — you’ll get tired faster and you might even create body problems for yourself. That doesn’t sound too good, does it?
Last but not least, of course, the weight. For some, it might not be an issue, but it is still one to consider — for one, transporting it from the store to home. If you’re buying online, the shipping cost might differ (unless it’s free shipping).
A heavier sewing cabinet doesn’t mean it’s better or more durable. In fact, if it’s a heavier unit, it might even be bulkier in comparison to others. It’ll affect assembling the sewing cabinet as well as disassembling and reassembling it when you move it elsewhere.
If you’re thinking of having a portable sewing cabinet — ones with wheels, let’s say — then the weight definitely plays a huge role. Remember, you’re going to be storing your other sewing stuff, so the weight of your still and machine will add on. You don’t want to be struggling to push the sewing cabinet each time.
Does the cabinet have Wheels/Casters
If mobility is important to you, you would want to get one that has wheels or casters so you can move it easily from place to place in your house. Make sure the casters are durable too (you can read the reviews on the cabinet), as some tend to come off after some time. Having wheeels makes it possible to go for bigger and heavier cabinets than you normally would, because you know you can move it around readily if need be.
Foldable cabinet or not:
If you have limited space, you could get a cabinet that is foldable, so you can open it out when you want to sew, and fold it back to a nice compact shape when you’re done. This can help you maximize space even in cramped tight spaces or crowded rooms.
So there you have it — a simple yet efficient guide on how to choose a sewing cabinet that’s perfect for you and your home. Whichever sewing cabinet you choose, make sure it fits your criteria and have all your boxes ticked. All the best in your sewing cabinet hunting!