Ready - Set - Sew

3 tips to finding your best ergonomic sewing posture

Sewing can be such a pain in the neck, literally!
I want to help you change that so that you find your best ergonomic sewing posture, which will allow you to enjoy the act of sewing for longer.

Here are three simple tips for you.

1. READY: Check your equipment

Setting up your equipment in the right way makes a significant difference to how you feel as you work. In fact, it can be the difference between crippling back pain at the end of the day and skipping out to dinner with your family.

Let’s start with your essential sewing room equipment; your sewing machine, chair, cutting table and ironing board. These all need to be adjusted to your individual height to avoid any aches and pain.

Your sewing machine

If your sewing machine is higher than your elbow measurement you are raising your shoulders to sew, causing back and neck pain. This can make bigger projects much harder to finish and even cause you to stop sewing long before you are ready to retire your favourite hobby.

To find your perfect height you need to understand your best ergonomic height from your individual ‘baseline ergonomic angle measurement.’

Sounds complicated but believe me it really isn’t!

Here’s how to do that.

Sit tall, relax your shoulders, let your arms hang at your sides. Without moving your shoulders, keeping upper arms at your sides, bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle. Measure from the bottom of your elbow to the floor. This is how high the sewing surface of your sewing machine (or machine bed) 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, and even RSI.

You could adjust the table height to elbow level by cutting down the legs or if the table can’t come down any further, 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 with grip to get the right height safely.

Remember, check behind your knees to ensure there is no pressure from the front edge of the chair on your sciatic nerve and artery. The floor pedal should be under your foot with your knee bent at 90 degrees. Don’t sit in a position where you are stretching out to reach for it. 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. Simple tricks like this will relieve pressure points as you work.

Your sewing chair

Just like any other chair, your sewing chair should be set at the best height for you. If your sewing chair is too low you stretch up to meet your work, causing shoulder and back overstretching. If your chair is too high you stoop your shoulders over your work to compensate, leaving you with neck and back pain after a brief time.

In addition to the right chair height, consider adding a massaging, posture enhancing seat topper. Heres a bonus stretch to do right at your machine.

Here is how to adjust your sewing chair, or chose a new one to suit your safest ergonomic height.

Your cutting table

Stooping or overreaching to cut fabric on your sewing room table can also cause stretching or tensing of your muscles, both equally leave you with pain after hours of work. Here is how to adjust your cu