Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary

Sewing or work table

A popular small working table of the mid and late 18th century.

Usually equipped with drawers, trays, spool racks, and a cloth bag below for sewing materials.


Sheraton, Hepplewhite, and others designed many such pieces, which were also called "pouch tables." French Louis XVI and Empire designs were also created to satisfy this need.


After the American Revolution, sewing or work tables were first made in Neoclassical Federal designs, followed by Empire as well as Gothic and Rococo Revival versions.

Empire designs typically display heavily proportioned elements.

American Victorian C. 1840-1860

Victorian sewing tables sometimes have upper drawer, about three inches deep, fitted with baize-paneled writing flap and compartments for pens , ink bottle, and so on. Lower drawer, four to five inches deep, divided for sewing supplies. Drawers have single or double mushroom-turned wooden knobs or brass rosette knobs, with or without keyhole surrounds.

A Victorian pedestal-base sewing table may be either baluster-turned or a plain tapering shaft. The former is supported by three S-curved scroll-cut legs terminating in in curved feet, frequently without casters. The tapering shaft type is supported by four cyma-curved, scroll-cut legs, castered.

Victorian woods: mahogany, veneered top and drawer fronts; black walnut; sometimes other native hardwoods.

Late Victorian sewing stands were often made of wicker in basketweave patterns. Used both indoors and outdoors in the late 19th century.

Examples from Buffalo:

Photos and their arrangement © 2006 Chuck LaChiusa
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