I used to have to sew in my dining room too live2teach, and I even had my design wall up in the dining area so from the minute you came in my house you knew I was a quilter! LOL Thankfully I was able to convert one of the kids' rooms into a sewing room when they grew up and moved out. It was the first time I'd ever sewn anywhere that wasn't out in the open. And I tend to be very messy when I'm involved in a project, so I'm glad I can finally shut the door on it all! :D
I still use my dining room table to hand baste my quilts so what I do is put two blocks under each table leg to lift it up to a better height so I don't hurt my back so much. I think it would be better to have it up a bit for cutting too. I feel I have more control when the table isn't so low.