Bernina 880 Plus Custom Built Table*

 

*In progress! As quarantine as halted progress on the sewing machine table, I wanted to post a progress report as it’s nearly finished. The design hasn’t been altered that much since the custom built table for the Bernina 730. I designed the table and my husband has built it. I’ll take you through each element as it’s so well suited to the machine and the person sewing. If Bernina ever make a table for this machine, this would be a hit.

The table is in 4 sections. The base table, the back that sits on top of the table, the front extension and the Perspex.  The base table is actually wider on the left than it appears as you’ll see in the next photo. This is so when the back and front are taken off the table, the embroidery module can sit perfectly on the table top.

My set up is so the sewing table (about 95cm wide on top and about 104cm deep) is close to the dining table to the left that takes the bulk of any large piece of fabric or quilt. This has always been a life saver. This means the front part is able to be extended forward around my belly and not much fabric has to sit in my lap or over my shoulder. The front extension allows me to rest my elbows on the table top so it greatly reduces the strain on my neck and shoulders.

 

Bernina 880+ custom table Fiona Schiffl 4

 

The front of the base table has cutouts as shown above. This is so the table doesn’t sit right up against my thighs. This is a winner! The table top extends forward on the left to accommodate the embroidery module.

As the table is made from MDF, I have little supports under the top so if something heavy is put on the top, it won’t bow. You can see two pictured here and there’s one further back in the table that’s longer and has two legs. These were made with little adjustable legs with a thread insert placed in the wood. They are brilliant.

There’s a little cube of wood on the left side. This has a hole in the middle for a wing nut bolt that secures the table top to the base table. You’ll see the bolt in the next photo.

 

Bernina 880+ custom table Fiona Schiffl 6

The bolt is in between the support bars.

 

There’s several things going on underneath. Because the machine is heavy, there’s two support bars welded on to the table. These help reduce the vibration when sewing at higher speeds. There will also be some more bars put between the legs on three sides to help reduce the vibration too. This could be done when the table was welded but we didn’t think of that at the time.

The white bar in front of the Perspex is a cheap bookshelf bar (the kind you slot the brackets into). This is a support as the MDF is only about 4″ deep there and is a weaker spot. I was concerned that I’d knock my fingers on it when changing the bobbin but it hasn’t been an issue at all. It works well and is strong.

The table is on adjustable height castors (two lockable) so it can be easily moved if the I pop the embroidery module on. The height adjusting option is perfect for two reasons: 1) Doesn’t give the builder a headache trying to get the precise height. 2) Accommodates either carpet or hardwood floors.

On to the right side. The metal frame will have plastic stoppers eventually. There is a cutout between the back and front table pieces so I can access the on/off switch.

 

Bernina 880+ custom table Fiona Schiffl 5

 

Bernina 880+ custom table Fiona Schiffl 3

 

There is also a cutout around the air vent. If I want to access the USB ports, I can just take the front off. That adjustable hook on the front holds the table top in place. There’s one on the outside of the table top on the left too but isn’t visible in the photos I’m posting. There is a third securing the front and back parts of the table where the writing on the table is at that skinny section (shown below).  The front and back match up perfectly but I haven’t matched them properly when I put the front back on the other day. A job for today! You can see the table top has been cut out so it perfectly fits the machine.  The real estate next to my right elbow is fantastic for the large pin cushion or clip jar. The arch on each side of the front piece (shown here on the left) is so I don’t knock my knees on the table as I swivel on my chair. I like my knees.

One concern I have is that I don’t want the cables to ever be crushed under when the front of the table is put on. They are going to have a little curved saddle clamp on the side to house the cords.

 

Bernina 880+ custom table Fiona Schiffl 8

 

Bernina 880+ custom table Fiona Schiffl 7

 

One thing I have insisted on for each of the table tops I’ve had is that the table be flush with the machine bed. I don’t know why the Q20 is not flush with the throat plate, it is doable and essential. More on my idea for that a later date. This top is flush but…my husband discovered the machine bed slopes a little downward as it gets closer to the needle so at present just behind the needle the table top is a bit proud. With the machine edges being beveled, the table top and Perspex has to be routed or filed down to accommodate it. He’s done a great job of it.

 

Bernina 880+ custom table Fiona Schiffl 2

 

In the old table top, the Perspex was only in front of the machine bed and not wrapped around the side. With this machine, you’re supposed to use both hands to open the bobbin door so I wanted more accessibility on the left. I’m also gifted to be left handed. My husband saw this would make more work in filing down the Perspex but did it anyway. I’m think it works much better to have it this way, especially now you have to use a dental mirror to check the bobbin is threaded correctly.

As recommended by Philippa Naylor, I’ve kept the 10″ from the needle to the belly. Can’t sew without that!

The table top has once again been routed to fit the Perspex. The back right corner has even been curved outwards to hug the edge of the machine bed is great as I didn’t want any pins to get caught in there. I’ve had to put masking tape over the edges to keep the protective plastic on it but that will one day be replaced with a plastic iPad screen cover to protect it from pins. These work so well and are very slippery.  I think as I did with the other machine, I’ll put a tiger tape strip on it that goes from the needle towards my belly as a sewing line reference. This is a special tape that is put on model airplanes. Works well.

You’ll notice the cutout that goes around my belly. This is amazing. It works on so many levels. You may have seen the revamped Q20 table top where they have the angled pieces on the outside instead of the inside as I have them. Those angles on my table provide extra real estate for the fabric and I’m not sure why they didn’t do it this way instead. I will (or the husband will) make a simple cutout that will be attached to the Q20 table top hopefully by the end of the year. Stay tuned for that one, it’ll have a lot of storage, perfect for the sewing room too.

You can see the little cushion I have on the right side of the belly cutout. This is for my elbow and has some rubber grip mat underneath it. I found in the beginning with my old table that my elbow hurt a little not having any padding under it. There is one for the left elbow too but I can’t use it if the fabric I’m sewing is large. I’m going to make up some fancy covers for them in the next couple of weeks. I think I might even drill a few holes in the table top to hold the right one in place as the rubber mat doesn’t work that well.

The only thing I didn’t think about in the beginning is the back of the top of the table. As my table tucks in under the cutting table to the left, the back isn’t flush with the back of cutting table. I’ve also found I’d like a bit more room in length and a back board to stop fabric going off the table and pulling through the needle. I originally decided that it can’t be too big to fit through a standard door way. So to accommodate both of these issues, I’m going to get the husband to create two options or one that can do both for the back. Imagine the side profile of a dining chair slipped into brackets. Maybe the “backrest” of the chair can be hinged so it can lie flat too. Will take photos of that when it’s done.

When choosing the paint for this table, I was going to be boring and go with white. When my husband said this table won’t be hand painted like the old one, it will be spray painted with car paint, I thought why not go a little crazy. I could get metallic! I spent ages at the car parts shop and settled on a dark cyan bordering on a royal blue. Can’t wait to see it finished. It’s been a year. I know keeping up the large yard and work and leisure gets in the way but I’m hoping it’ll be finished in a couple of months.  I’ll post the final photos when that happens.

If you’re still reading this, congratulations on making it through. I can’t tell you how having this kind of table has changed how I sew and enjoy sewing for the past 20 years. It’s made my sewing more accurate as there’s no gravity issues with the fabric hanging off the table. There’s been slight improvements to each one. I can’t actually sew without it.

I will note this table is higher than standard table height for one reason. As I’ve only every had smallish areas or bedrooms as a sewing room, my dining/craft table had to serve as cutting table (at a taller height) and before I had a custom sewing machine table had the machine on top too. When I got the custom one, I decided to make it flush with the large table so the quilts can rest on it while I’m sewing. I use an office chair with a foam cushion on top so I’m at the right height. This was a great decision.

There’s no real set of plans for the table but if you want any more information on either design or building it, please contact me and I’ll pass any questions on to my husband.

Happy quarantine quilting,

Fiona

 

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