Sewing is a hobby that can truly grow on you. You start off thinking you are going to spend an hour or so every once in a while at the sewing machine but before you know it, you find yourself spending more and more time at the machine. What draws you in is seeing the creative fruits of your labor. You just want to go back and do more! While this can be exhilarating and exciting, bad sewing habits can cause a whole lot of chronic problems. Taking some time to set up an ergonomic sewing area will greatly reduce the likelihood of chronic injuries.
3 Main Factors to Consider When Setting up an Ergonomic Sewing Area
Fortunately, setting up an ergonomic sewing area is not that difficult. It just requires you to keep a few basic principles in mind.
Your posture is most important when cutting the fabric and also when using the sewing machine. Developing the correct posture habits will help decrease the incidence of back pain. This means making sure your work table and your sewing chair are set at the right height.
Sewing Chair: The best type of sewing chair is one that has lumbar support and reclines slightly. An adjustable office chair will suit your purpose well. Set the height so that your feet can reach and rest comfortably on the floor. There are so many different styles available. Check them out before deciding which one works best for you.
Sewing Table: Your sewing machine itself needs to be kept at the right height so you can sew easily without straining your back. The surface of the table should be level with your forearms. You may have to adjust the table or chair height accordingly.
Work Table: What is the right worktable height? The ideal height for you is the height at which you can measure and cut your fabric without bending over too much. Measure and cutting can take a considerable amount of time and bending too low for long periods of time stresses out the back muscles and can cause chronic back pain. When you stand with your arms in front of you and your elbows bent at right angle, the work surface should be just a little below your arms. That will be the optimum worktable height. If you are using an existing table, check around in the hardware store for appropriate leg adjustments.
Other Ergonomic Considerations
The above three are the basic considerations to setting up an ergonomic sewing area. In addition, there are several other little steps that you can take that will make a difference in the long run.
Many sewers do not give it a second thought but using a good pair of scissors and keeping it sharp is a major factor in preventing hand pain. When you use a dull pair of scissors, you have to work harder to cut your fabric. Get a good pair of scissors with comfortable handgrips and make sure you use it only for fabric and nothing else.
The best thing you can do to avoid any type of sewing induced repetitive stress injury is to take short breaks regularly, say a few minutes every hour. Staying in the same position and doing the same movements can strain the muscles. During your breaks, do a few simple stretching exercises – bend over and touch your toes, stretch with your hands reaching for the sky, open and close your wrists. All of these little things can go a long way in helping you enjoying your hobby without the pain.