Craigslist treasure: midcentury sewing table

In our last home, my sewing machine sat in the bedroom on an Ikea Expedit desk like this:


It was great to have so much storage right at hand. Unfortunately the new house has no good place for such a large piece, so I decided to search Craigslist for a desk that would fit the spare wall in our new bedroom.

My sewing machine is my grandma’s 1958 Singer Slant-O-Matic 401A. Grandma used it on a card table with a custom-sized hole where the machine’s base nested, making a seamless work surface where it met the table. See how the bottom is kind of unfinished, as though it’s meant to be concealed?


Grandma’s sewing table is across the country in my parents’ basement, though, so at first I assumed I’d just get a regular desk. But one of the first Craigslist results was an “awesome mid century sewing table that has been converted to a desk.” I emailed the seller to ask if the sewing machine hole was still operable. She said yes! I traced the base of my machine onto paper and brought the template with me to the seller’s house. (Bringing the whole thing would’ve been a hassle — it’s made of at least 25 lbs of solid metal.)

It was perfect. I brought it straight home. The drawers were full of old straight pins and lint, and the finish was a bit murky… but after some determined scrubbing with diluted apple cider vinegar, it’s clean and fresh.


Turns out this table was originally made for a 1950s Singer, and the hole fits my machine exactly.


There are two hinges on the back of the hole. They’re intended to fasten to the base of the machine, so that you can pivot it toward you into the table to conceal it with an extra piece of wood when you’re not sewing (so cool!!).


[Incidentally, this photo was taken before the rest, and before I’d scrubbed it with vinegar. See the dull finish on top and the white marring on the right leg and drawer front? All better now!]

The hinge pegs fit into the holes on my machine, but I haven’t yet figured out how to secure them so they don’t slip out when you tilt the machine. Here’s a photo I found of how it’s supposed to work.


If anyone reading this happens to know how to make the hinges work, please leave a comment! I will probably have to buy hardware like one of these, which seem to be easily available on ebay.


But in the meantime, I’m more than happy to leave the machine on display.

Next quest: a chair that complements the desk, preferably without arms so it can tuck under the desk.


7 thoughts on “Craigslist treasure: midcentury sewing table

  1. Do you have any more info about the table? I have the exact same table that we want to put on craigslist that sits is a house a few states away.

    • Jason, how cool! But no I don’t have much more info. Didn’t find any brand mark or sticker on it. The measurements are about 44W x 20D x 30.5H and the hole for the machine is about 16.5W x 7D… Hope that helps!

  2. Hello,
    Linda here, the picture on the right below your comment I copied and pasted here ……
    (I will probably have to buy hardware like one of these, which seem to be easily available on ebay.) has a very short stubby little screw which fits into the two holes on the back side of the sewing machine base. You will need to turn the machine on it’s face on a bath towel to see
    the holes to which I am referring. ; -) Once you fit the machine over the pegs on the cabinet
    the short screws go into the holes. Do not stop tightening the screws till a strong person can
    not lift the machine off the pegs.

    I use a thin rubber band to help with this process as even with two people doing this it gets
    shall we say interesting! String the rubber band over both pegs in the upright or erect position
    and then begin your little dance with the machine. Then just rip the rubber band away. No harm no foul.

    I would suggest this all be done with the desk pulled away from the wall and not too much coffee
    consumed before beginning….. It takes some patience.

    Hope I helped.
    (Dallas, TX)

  3. I just gave my Mother-in-laws 1950’s Singer in the three drawer desk you have. The entire thing works great (had actually given it to my own Mother to use until she got sick) including the hinges, machine, sewing light, knee-operating-lever and foot pedal. The finish is good still and I only had to tighten one leg under the drawer side.

  4. I just bought this same table at a thrift store this evening. I plan to use it as a desk and also set my newer sewing machine on top of it. Thanks for sharing your story and the info on the table. Mine is in pretty good shape.

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