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The Ergonomics of Sewing  

Have you ever spent the day sewing and wondered why it leaves you with pain in your neck, shoulders, back, hands or wrists?

The answer may be simple ergonomics, my friends!

When we hold our bodies in weird or unnatural positions – say, by leaning over a cutting table – we can put strain on our joints and muscles which results in all the aches and pains.

And, nobody wants that! Today, we’re bringing you our top tips for ergonomic sewing so you can enjoy making all those beautiful creations pain-free!

 

Sewing Table Height 

This is probably one of the most important factors to avoiding injury while sewing. If you’ve ever sat and sewed at table that’s too high to too low for an extended period of time, you know that it can be a real pain in the neck (literally!).

When sitting at your sewing table, you should be able to sit up straight with your arms resting at a 90° angle and your wrists straight (not bent up or down).

If your sewing machine sits too high, consider getting a sewing table that will allow to you lower your machine so it sits flush with the table surface.

If you usually sit at a regular table to sew, you can get an extension deck. Commonly used in quilting, this handy little guy raises up your work surface. If you’re crafty, you can also make your own!

Posture

You know how your mom was always telling you to sit up straight? Well it applies to sewing too!

When you’re sitting at your sewing table, you don’t want to be hunched over your machine. This can lead to a whole mess of neck, shoulder, back and chest muscle issues.

Sit up straight with your shoulders back as you sew. If you need some help, strap on one of these posture supporters which includes a small counterweight to encourage you to straighten up and fly right.

Cutting Table Height 

Typically, your cutting table should be higher than your sewing table because a lot of cutting is done while standing and you want to avoid hunching. This is especially true if you’re using a rotary cutter since you have to apply some downward force to keep it from getting squirrelly.

Your table should be about 2-3 inches below your waist level. If you have to raise the height of your cutting table, use some bed risers to give your table some height and stability!

Chair Height

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Your best bet for a sewing chair is to get one that adjusts, like an office chair. This will allow you to get the right height and back support while you’re sewing.

You also want to make sure your chair has good, comfy cushioning. Chances are you’re going to be sitting in it for a while. Save your tushie!

Cushion

Speaking of which, if your sewing chair just isn’t cutting it in the comfort department, you can upgrade it with some support cushions.

An angled seat cushion alleviates tailbone pressure and lower back pain. You can also help your back with a lumbar cushion which will give your lower back some support.

Leg Room

Make sure your chair allows you to sit with your legs bent at a 90° angle and your feet flat on the floor.

You also want to ensure that your sewing table allows you to sit without your knees hitting it. No bruised knees here!

Anti-Fatigue Mat

If you are going to be standing for long periods of time, like at a cutting table or ironing board, do your feet a favor and get a cushy anti-fatigue mat to reduce foot and joint discomfort. Your body will thank you!

Compression Gloves

Like doing intricate craft work, but don’t love the pain it causes your hands? Show your hands some love with compression gloves!

They improve circulation and reduce arthritis pain and swelling, all while keeping your hands warm and dry. Plus, the fingerless design still allows touch sensation so you can create super detailed pieces.

Save Your Sight

Don’t work at your sewing table hunched over like Dickens writing by candlelight. Outfit your sewing station with some good lighting. Even a cheap desk lamp will do!

Also, if you have trouble seeing, don’t hesitate to get yourself a magnifier. Because threading a needle doesn’t need to be MORE difficult than it already is.

Ergonomic Tools

There are all kinds of fun sewing tools created for comfort!

Spring Action Scissors – These are great if you’re doing a lot of cutting since the motion of opening and closing scissors can do a number on your wrists and forearms. These scissors do the work for you by springing open by themselves!

Rotary Cutter – These cutters are made to fit comfortably in your hand and cut down fatigue. Great if you’re doing LOTS of cutting, especially squares or straight edges. Just be careful when using a rotary cutter, those blades are sharp!

Seam Ripper – The ergonomic handle on these seam rippers gives you delightful little finger grips to reduce hand stress and strain so you can save your hands while you save your sewing project.

A Few More Tips:

Stretch

If you’re sitting and sewing for hours at a time, make sure you get up and move around at least every 1-2 hours. Get up, walk around, and stretch your legs, arms, back, neck and wrists.

It can be easy to get lost in a project and forget to do this. Set a “Get Up and Move” alarm on your phone that goes off every couple hours to remind you to move it.

Change Your Focus

When you’re focused on the details of a sewing project, you can really put some strain on your eyes. You can help your peepers by doing what doctors call the “20-20-20” exercise: every 20 minutes, stare at an object that’s at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

Keep Your Scissors Sharp

Cutting with dull scissors requires more effort which can lead to injury for your hands and wrists. Make sure to keep your scissors sharp so they glide through fabric easily.

Designate your sewing scissors for fabric only, even if you have to write it on the handle or hide them from family members!

We hope you found our tips for ergonomic sewing helpful. Always practice safety when sewing so you can keep creating awesome projects for years to come!

 

What are some handy ergonomic sewing tips you’ve discovered? Please share them with us in the comments section!

 

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