Finding a smooth, indestructible surface on which to cut out fabric is a challenge. There are ready-made sewing mats, but most of them are either too small or have bumps in them from folding for storage. For the average seamstress, there usually isn’t the option of having a table just for cutting things out. I presented my problem to my engineer husband, since he had asked me what I wanted for Christmas. I knew he come up with some sort of impressive idea.
Still, I was surprised when he walked into the house with the solution 10 minutes after I had talked to him! He had gone straight out to his workshop and cut a piece of 3/16 inch thick hardboard to fit my kitchen table. He wiped it down with a damp rag and told me to try it out.
That day I was cutting something out using both scissors and a rotary cutter. The board was barely scratched from either tool. The rotary cutter leaves a deeper groove in the thicker plastic cutting mat that I bought at the fabric store.
Storage was the next thing to consider. Keeping it the size of the table top meant no edges or accidental spaces between pieces. It also meant it would be harder to move. The board was a bit unwieldy, but from the right angle, I could lift it off of the table. When put on its edge, it stays straight, unlike the plastic mats, which tend to bend and curl. Because it is such a basic, dark brown, it blends with my wood paneled walls while sitting along the bottom half of the sliding glass door. This is very conveniently next to the table I will use it on. I still have the option for having it cut, but for now, I like having it as one piece.
The one thing that I would change is having the corners rounded or sanded some. The knit fabric that I was cutting out tended to get caught on them. I was able to avoid snags, but the corners are a little sharp. I had asked that the mat cover as much of the table as possible, so the corners just barely extend beyond the edges of the table, but it is enough to make the corners a hazard to more delicate fabrics.
It is so nice to now be able to lay out a larger pattern piece without having to constantly adjust a small cutting mat under it. Also, the larger work space means I can lay out more of the pattern pieces at once. I can now make better use of fabric with less struggle and better use of my time.
Hardboard can be purchased at home improvement or building supply stores. I saw that Home Depot has a sheet of hardboard about the size of mine for just under $15. These stores are not places that I think of to shop for sewing supplies. But I do go there on dates with my husband. 😉 Or sometimes when keeping him company when he is shopping for supplies for another fun project to make for me. I have always been intrigued by all the bins of things that I didn’t even know existed. Now, when I am there, I will be thinking about how these things could be used in ways that were not originally intended!