Ready - Set - Sew

Ready - Sit tall, relax your shoulders, let your arms hang at your sides. Without moving your shoulders, keeping upper arms at your sides, bend elbows at a 90-degree angle. Measure from the bottom of your elbow to the floor This is how high the sewing surface of the of the machine should be. Yes, the machine is almost sitting in your lap. If your sewing machine is higher than your elbow measurement you are raising your shoulders to sew, causing back and neck pain.

You could adjust the table height to elbow level by cutting off the legs or if the table can’t come down, move the floor up. Raise your chair until your hands are resting on the sewing surface with your elbows at 90-degrees. Build a platform under the sewing table until your feet are resting flat and your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Use boards or blocks to get the right height. Remember, check behind your knees to ensure there is no pressure on the front edge of the chair. The floor pedal should be under your foot with knee bent at 90 degrees. This is not a car. Don’t be stretching out to reach for it. (guilty) That changes your hip position and twists the back. Sew with both feet. Use the right foot for a bit, then move the foot pedal over and switch to the left.


Set - Use a chair that supports your back. Adjustable, padded office chairs work, but so does a simple wooden chair, a little padding on the seat is nice. I have my moms old chair, which really provides great structure, but my office chair allows me to zoom between sewing machine and a lowered ironing board. Pro- saves time. Con- not getting up as often, moving more is healthier in the long run. According to Karen Reichardt of Square Dance Sewing, your chair should be an armless secretary type with a rounded front edge. Whichever chair you use, really think about how you sit in it when sewing. With hips all the way back in the seat your feet should be flat on the floor. Run your hand behind your knees, there shouldn’t be any pressure on the front edge of the chair. That would cut into your sciatic nerve and your popliteal artery (behind your knee). Your knees should be equal to or slightly higher than your hips. This will move your weight from your thighs to your behind and the lower back will feel better being straight. If you tend to slide forward in the chair the seat is too high.



Sew - As we get in the zone, chain piecing one block after another, our shoulders roll forward, head extends to see better, neck is bent and back is hunched. But who cares I’m getting so much done! Not good.

  • Sit tall, straighten your back – picture a string on the top of your head pulling you up tall.

  • Roll your shoulders back, slide them down your back, drawing your shoulder blades together – don’t squeeze or tense

  • Relax your shoulders, don’t let them scrunch up.