Part the first:
Until last week, the surface that my sewing machine sat on was 31″ high and as I’m just over 5′ 4″ tall I had to adjust my chair height to its highest setting and put the foot pedal on a box whenever I wanted to sew. Additionally, this setup didn’t give me much room to easily sew anything larger than half a metre square so for more than a year I’ve scoured the internet for ways I could improve things with a very small budget and no specialist tools. After several trials, I realised that making a simple table at a height to suit me would be my easiest option. I already had mdf so all I needed to buy was some timber for the legs and on the way to purchase this, I stopped at a charity shop to donate a load of books and spotted a 22.5″ high side table for only £15 which has turned out to be ideal. Two lengths of 2″ x 1″ timber sandwiched between the table top and a length of mdf created the perfect working height for me. Nothing has been permanently attached so far but it’s lovely to be able to just pull my chair up to the machine and sew without having to adjust anything beforehand. It’s very stable and an additional bonus is the paper rack underneath to store packs of fusible interfacing etc.
Part the second:
A fair-sized transparent extension table came with my sewing machine but it’s designed to be used with the accessories box in place and both of these have to be removed to access the slider switch that lowers or raises the feed dogs. A custom-made extension table that’s shaped to fit around the free arm is beyond my budget so I thought I’d have a go at making one from a large piece of old plexiglass I sometimes use as a lightbox surface. I found a YouTube video where someone attached a craft knife blade to a soldering iron which sounded like an easy win but didn’t work with my soldering iron so I attached a short length of thick copper wire instead which I knew would work although it took me more than an hour to cut five of the seven cuts required and the cuts were not clean. I then had a sudden flash of inspiration and made a cheese-cutter type arrangement as shown in the image below. Pushing against the plexiglass as well as employing a gentle sawing motion close to the soldering iron where the wire was hottest made the cutting quicker and easier although the wire snapped a couple of times and had to be re-attached. Areas where melting plexiglass had built up along the cutting line were easy enough to remove with wire nippers and a large diamond nail file subsequently smoothed all the edges. For all its roughness, my diy version fits quite well around the free arm of my machine and simply sits on the original extension table which I lowered slightly so that the diy version is level with the needle plate and the feed dog switch at the back of the free arm is easily and quickly reached by sliding my hand under the table.