Posted in sewing

Ikea KALLAX Cutting & Sewing Table Hack

Hey Franz!

First time I’m using ‘hack’ in a public space. I know language changes, but I kind of hate the word. Some people hate ‘purse’ or ‘moist’. I don’t really use “hack” or “make” as it relates to sewing.  ::shakes old lady cane and adjusts reading glasses::.  Long post to follow, but I also have construction photos, tips and video on my Instagram story highlights.

IKEA KALLAX cutting sewing table hack

Today I present my sewing loft cutting table! My new sewing room is a loft on the third floor of our house. It’s long and narrow and my old, beloved orange sewing desk didn’t fit the room. I was also blessed (a word I do not take lightly) to meet and become friends with fellow maker Elizabeth, who works professionally as a commercial interior designer. She was generous enough to design a sewing room for me. Won’t lie, I was going to move the cutting table to a different part of the room. But, as I started to build it, it totally made sense where she put it.

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Skipping ahead, lol. Option 2 is my favorite. This layout from Elizabeth gives me a long sewing table for my four main machines (sewing, serger, coverstitch, blind hemmer). I also get a large cutting space and pressing staion (on wheels so I can move them out from the wall), and I still get two 4" wide storage units for my 17 bins (and counting) of fabric. I may look for an L-shape desk that fits this corner, shortening the longer side. And, since I'm now scouting used office supply stores I can perhaps get one with a built in memo board. This is the design I'm going for! Many thanks to my design guru friend @bluesatinstiches! I think it'll take me a good year to finish kitting out this room. I'm excited to have a plan to work from. #interiordesign #sewingroom #sewingroomideas

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I settled on the Kallax Craft Table hack from Family Handyman specifically because it could house my 10+ years of Burdastyle magazines. If this isn’t a consideration, check out Closet Case Pattern’s cutting table or Brooks Ann Camper’s or Rowley’s professional work table (with detailed instructions).

IKEA KALLAX cutting sewing table hack

Lucky to have Liz and Jordan help me!

After some fantastic feedback on Instagram, I decided to use Homosate from Home Depot for a pinnable layer on the table top. At first I thought I didn’t have anything I needed to pin to my table top. But, folks told me all the ways they use the pinable layer and I went for it. It’s covered with butcher paper and just taped down with packing tape. I got this idea from Brooks Ann Camper’s blog. I’ve since done my first FBA and bicep adjustment with this pinable table and it is LIFE CHANGING.

IKEA KALLAX cutting sewing table hack

Now, the knitty gritty of what I wish I did differently and what I was thinking in construction.

Early considerations:

I wanted my table top to be at least 45″ wide so I could easily have the bulk of the fabric on the table if I single layer cut something. I NEVER want to have to cut from the floor again. My back is 42, not 22 and it yells at me for days when I cut on the floor.

IKEA KALLAX cutting sewing table hack

Storage is paramount. As noted above, I wanted to keep my Burdastyle magazines organized. And, I needed someplace to store longer bolts of things (muslin, batiste, linings, silk organza).

IKEA KALLAX cutting sewing table hack

The table needed wheels because access to the roof is in the sewing loft and if there was a problem. I needed to be able to move the cutting table easily. I also wanted something I could walk around. So, I didn’t want it pushed up against the wall all the time.  My wheels are 4″ high. This also helps get the cabinet to a comfortable cutting level for me. Total table height is 39″ and perfect for 5’6″ me.

What I would do differently

I used three KALLAX in a row which comes to about 46″ wide and 58″ long. Pretty much exactly what I wanted the finished table top to be. Jasika suggested I determine my countertop finished measurements by what mats I’d be able to buy in stock. I did! But….

IKEA KALLAX cutting sewing table hack

I didn’t account for toe clearance (thanks, Beth!) and I didn’t think too much about the countertop edge coming off of the base (thanks, Carly!). Apparently, you want 3.5″ to 4″ toe clearance so you don’t stub your toe when getting right against the table. And, you want that top overhang so you don’t bang you knee against the base of the table (mine is 3″). Once I finished assembling the base and these above issues came to light, I realized I was going to need to make a much bigger top to my table than I planned.

IKEA KALLAX cutting sewing table hack

Yes, I could have used two cabinets and cut my top to to the size I wanted. But, I’d already assembled the three, so one wasn’t returnable. And, I *could* use the extra storage provided by the middle piece.

IKEA KALLAX cutting sewing table hack

Because my countertop was now bigger than I planned, I had to buy more plywood than I budgeted for in order to cut pieces to the right dimensions.  If I’d known / thought about these things before, I might have stuck with two KALLAX as my base and made my countertop as wide as I wanted. But, with three next to each other, the KALLAX base required a top that was 60″x54″. That’s just too big to get out of one 4’x8′ piece of plywood. That added $50 to the project. Plywood comes in 4’x8′ sheets. Plus, the interior KALLAX was $60 more. And, now the custom self healing mat I need for this table top will be near $300. OUCH.

I will still be buying a custom self healing mat for my table. But, honestly not until next year. It’s going to be expensive and after this project, I need to sit on my credit card for a few months. And, my old cutting mat from Joann’s works just fine for now.

IKEA KALLAX cutting sewing table hack

There she is! I LOVE this table. Like, sometimes I come up to the room just to look at it. It’s so comfortable to cut on. Alterations are a dream with the pinable top. The width allows me to lay out fabric easily. The storage is EXCELLENT. Everything is at my fingertips. And, my beloved Burdas are in easy reach. Oh! That’s the MOSSLANDA picture ledge. I added it to have a place to hold scissors or pins — things I’m using at the moment.

I have a lot more work to do on this room. But, just this table and getting most of my boxes out of the room have seriously improved my attitude and mood. I was so depressed coming in here. I could never find anything and continually digging through boxes for thread, chalk, etc.

Next up: Thread racks on the wall and pegboard for tools! I also need to look into my sewing table / desk situation. But, want to work in the room a little more to figure out what meets my needs best. There are no ceiling lights in the room, which makes nighttime sewing miserable. Hopefully we sell our old house this year and I can get the electrician in to do some wiring for me. More to (slowly) come!

Posted in sewing

More pull on pants, Burdastyle 4-2011 #139


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*Worn with Cashmerette Springfield Top (cropped).

Last summer I put on my big girl panties and finally made some pants. I have successfully made pants in the past. But, the last few years my changing body and expanding bottom made sewing pants REALLY unappealing to me. But, I couldn’t get through summer (or life really) without a single pair of non jeans in my closet.


The result were these tobacco linen pants from Burdastyle (Plus) that I wore twice a week. When I made that version, I left off the bottom leg band detail as I wanted to just focus on getting the fit right. And now after having worn those to pilling inner thigh,  and an upcoming American Thanksgiving to be spent in Key West with my inlaws, I knew it was time to make another pair and take a stab at the tab.


Let me just say that my Burdastyle language skills are SLIPPING. The first time I read the bottom band / tab directions they made ZERO sense to me. The magazine may as well have been explaining Fortnite. Nine hours later I looked at the instructions again and saw a glimmer of what they were asking me to do. The next morning when I decided to *try* the instructions, it became crystal clear. There is a tab *inside* the band attached to elastic. The tab comes out through the band from a vertical buttonhole. Two buttons on the band allow you to adjust the width of the leg opening. I believe the leg opening is 22″ wide and the elastic I cut was about 16″. It’s a really cute detail that is totally lost in this red linen.

You’re welcome.


Other pattern changes from the first time? I found that the crotch on the tobacco pair hung a littler lower than I wanted. I think this is a bit of personal choice for me. I don’t want my thighs to touch AT ALL. And, I’m really used to the fit of snug jeans. So, on this pair I reduced the rise by 1/2. Previously in making this pair, I also lowered the waistband and lowered the pockets plus some other tweaks for fit. I still prefer a 2″ wide waistband on elastic wasit pants too.


Finishing wise, I decided to do a flat fell seam at the crotch and inside leg. As I mentioned before, my pants get a lot of wear and tear. I’m hoping that this treatment stabilizes the seam and will be more durable.

I legitimately could wear these pants all summer. So, don’t be susprised when it starts warming up on the east coast to see me wearing a rainbow of linen.


Posted in sewing

Warm, waterproof, hooded and pockets: Jalie 2680, Stretch City Coat

Jalie City Coat BWI (2 of 4)//

There have been a thousand and one reviews of this pattern gem.  It’s about to be a thousand and twoooo. You see, I finally got around to making the Jalie City Coat and I am 120% in love with it. 

Jalie City Coat (1 of 19)

I really needed a jacket for travel and to casually throw on in the fall season. Something waterproof and with a hood ideally for walking the dog or running to the store. The Jalie City Coat does all those things AND had extremely flattering and easy to adjust princess seams.

Jalie City Coat (7 of 19)

First, the pattern does call for a low stretch fabric. My soft-shell with merino wool backing from Fabricmart has stretch. But, I managed to cut it with the stretch going lengthwise vs horizontal. After a few panicked messages on the Jalie Facebook group, I was assured from others it would fit. And, it does!

  Jalie City Coat (13 of 19)//

My other error made a longer lasting impact. My iron was WAY too hot when I applied interfacing to the front facing. It melted the facing, which caused it to shrink. I had to get ‘creative’ (read, made a mess) with the hem. Which caused some not so great pulling at the front and wonky hem. THIS DOES NOT ABATE MY LOVE OF THE JACKET.

Jalie City Coat (6 of 19)

Now, on to the good parts!


  • Made a Size Z grading to a BB at the thigh.
  • 1″ FBA on the princess seams
  • 1″ swayback adjustment (I think I could do without or it was too much for the pattern)
  • I did not make a full bicep adjustment and I wish I had. There is about 2″ of ease of me in the jacket. So, when I wear a sweatshirt, there’s no excess ease. A coat needs 4″ of ease. An unlined jacket 3″ of ease. But, I cut out the pattern before I thought about the arms. I don’t think the sleeves are slim. I have larger arms.

Jalie City Coat (8 of 19)

You’ll notice there’s some fabric drag around the pocket areas. I believe this is because I accidentally cut the fabric with the stretch going vertically instead of horizontally. So, it’s not as stable as it should be.

The jacket is drafted unlined. Which I welcomed because I wanted an easier project with less finishing. It also gave me a chance to use my new Brother CV3550 coverstitch machine. In fact, this project was basically my unboxing as it sat in storage while we moved for several months.

Jalie City Coat (15 of 19)//

For this jacket, I finished most of the seams with the coverstitch. It provided the topstitching a seam finish in one pass. Using the written directions I wasn’t able to finish the front princess seams in a way that made me happiest.

Jalie City Coat (3 of 19)

If I were to do it again I would:

  1. Increase the SA on front and pocket seams to 5/8″ . Then, I’d be able to sew it as directed and go back and coverstitch for the topstitching. OR serge the front panels first and then topstitch. You could also add 1/4″ to the pocket seam and french seam them for a neater finish.
  2. Make the side seams 1″ SA to allow letting out later on.

When I make this again I will:

  1. add reflective tape at the yokes and lower arm seams
  2. I’d add a little walking ease.
  3. Serge the pockets or sew them as french seams, maybe bind the pockets?
  4. Speaking of binding, I used my binder attachment on my coverstitch to finish the facings.

Interfacing is optional in the facings and I used it. I’m glad I did as I think it helps provide support for the buttonholes.

Jalie City Coat (16 of 19)//

Finally, hemming was also done on the coverstitch.

This whole project took a little longer than I’m used to with sewing. For those who aren’t on Instagram, we moved about two months ago. We haven’t sold our old house yet (more stressful than I anticipated) and I have unpacked the bare minimum for my current sewing room. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in my sewing room starting with hardwired lights. But, that’s a big financial project and we haven’t sold our other house yet, lol.

I also started this project a few days before I had an easy, outpatient surgery to remove endometrial tissue from my abdomen/navel area.  I’d been extremely uncomfortable for six months (trouble standing upright, not being able to sleep on my side or my stomach, waking up from cramps and weird pains I can’t even describe, no waistband touching my midsection) and finally went to my doctor for an endometriosis diagnosis and scheduled surgery. I was told the recovery would be brief, “back on your feet in hours”. And I was in fact home and in bed for a week. I’m also off of strenuous, core exercises and weightlfitng until the new year for fear of causing a hernia. The point I wanted to make on endometrios is listen to your body and go to a doctor when something doesn’t feel right. I shouldn’t have waited five months. I had no clue it was that or that there were some treatment options available to me. I feel much much better now and am working to keep it under control. Whew. I wrote a lot more there than planned. Next post: just sewing 😉. I made some red linen pants for our warm Thanksgiving mini break that I want to show you.


Posted in sewing

Updating Blog / Republishing Posts

Hi! I’ll be republishing my last year’s worth of blog posts. They were deleted when I changed from a business WordPress plan to a regular free plan. Thanks to the Feedly, I can pull all my old posts — minus photos. And will be reposting them here.

Sorry for all the updates you’re about to receive!

Posted in sewing

Unfancy Tobacco Linen Pull On Pants: Burdastyle 4-2011-139

****This post is a repost of my original entry. Due to some technical difficulties, I lost a year’s worth of blog posts. 

While I’ve made my fair share of pants and jeans in the past, I can’t say they are my favorite to put together. I have a bit of a struggle fitting pants so I tend to avoid them. But, I get extremely desperate for pants each year, try to buy some RTW, get totally demoralized and ignore my need for pants for another 12 mos.

20180626_143031 Well, with a vacation looming last month (it was mah-velous), I knew I needed pants. My thighs touch and in the summer in can be terribly uncomfortable. We were going to be doing plenty of walking and flying. Shorts won’t cut it so pants it is. I settled on making a pull on pair because I didn’t want to invest a lot of time constructing pants that might not fit well. And, if I’m being honest, I hope to lose some winter weight I picked up and won’t have to worry as much about the fit later on.


For this pair I chose the #139 from the April 2011 Burdastyle. This is a plus size pattern. I’m a 42 at the waist and a solid 50 through my lower thighs. My first two muslins were TERRIBLE.


At the front I could see it straining across my jutting thighs. There was also not enough clearance for my stomach and the crotch was rightupinthere.


On the reverse, not enough room for my protruding seat, a serious need for a swayback adjustment and also, not enough length in the crotch (you can see it pulling it up at the center thigh) By the third muslin on the far right, I was much happier with the fit.


For the waist, I used a 2″ elastic vs the 1.25″ it’s drafted for. I just love wide elastic waistband. I think it looks more finished — especially with topstitching. This is a knit heavy stretch elastic so I cut it just 2″ smaller than my waist measurement and it grew a little less than 1″ after application and topstitching (making it the 1″ smaller than my waist measurement a heavy stretch should be).

You’ll note I skipped the hem band treatment on these pants. I decided I really liked this color and plan to wear them to work this summer. By keeping the bottom of the leg simple I think they are a hair more professional and less likely to be noticed when I wear them several times a week.

I am thinking about reducing by a 1/4″ the length in the back crotch and shortening the rise another 1/2″. I’d like them to fit around my crotch a hair snugger. But, overall I am REALLY happy and plan to make several more over the summer.