Author Topic: Best height for sewing machine?  (Read 5536 times)

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Offline su-sew

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Best height for sewing machine?
« on: April 02, 2012, 09:24:59 PM »
I've been doing a lot of sewing the last few weekends and end up with a sore lower back at the end of the day because I'm leaning forward and down to use my machine. 

Anyone know the ergonomics of sewing machine placement height? Of course, a lot of the ergonomics depends on your height , reach and so on, but what are the principles?

 I had my machine sitting on a table 27" inches high; the platform of my machine is 4 inches in height.  I have an adjustable height Ikea office chair.  (Years ago I had a chair without wheels-I was so happy to get a chair on wheels so I could roll on the chair from machine to table for trimming, measuring etc.)

I'm going to try it on another table that is set at 28 1/4" for now - I can adjust the height lower or higher on this table.   I haven't tried sewing yet, but it's surprising what one extra inch can makes.
My blog: sewstyled.wordpress.com

Offline sewvt

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Re: Best height for sewing machine?
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2012, 10:21:07 PM »
Here's a quick review:
http://www.sewing.org/files/guidelines/21_110_sewing_room_setup_for_healthy_sewing.pdf

The needle should be centered in front of you as you sit and your hands should be roughly at the same height as your bent elbows as you sew.  Whatever combination of chair and table heights accomplishes that should work, assuming that your feet are flat on the floor when sitting.  Some people like to tilt their machines as shown in the article.  I've tried it both ways and prefer mine flat.  A strip of 1x2 scrap wood works pretty well tucked just under the back edge of your machine,  if you want to see if it works for you.

If your table needs to be just slightly higher, you can try elevating it on 4 small cans (think tuna) to see if that helps.  It's the combination of right chair height and right table height that's key.  Experiment until you know what works for you before investing in any new furniture.   Yup, that's how I know...  ;D

Peggy

Offline su-sew

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Re: Best height for sewing machine?
« Reply #2 on: April 03, 2012, 10:04:25 PM »
Thanks for the link!  I'll be doing some adjustments.
My blog: sewstyled.wordpress.com

Zalin

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Re: Best height for sewing machine?
« Reply #3 on: April 03, 2012, 10:37:55 PM »
Ha! My immediate reaction was whatever doesn't hurt your back.  :laugh:

I just raised my chair so that my arms are more level. Had to make sure my feet could still reach the peddle.  ;) I'm looking down more, but I'm not so hunched over. It feels better and I feel like I have more control. I guess I feel less cramped.

Offline marie-louise

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Re: Best height for sewing machine?
« Reply #4 on: April 04, 2012, 08:51:01 PM »
The sad fact of the matter is...sewing isn't very ergonomic. No matter how much we adjust things-and I agree, getting your elbows at the right height and sitting up straight and in front of the needle are helpful-we're still hunched over that machine.

I've been seeing a physical therapist for (upper) back pain, and she tells me that the key is to get up and stretch my back every hour, on the hour. No execptions. (I think her exact phrase was, "I don't care how much your creative juices are flowing, I want you to get up every hour and do these exercises.") So I do, and I've rarely had back pain while sewing since I started doing that.

Offline Garden Girl

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Re: Best height for sewing machine?
« Reply #5 on: April 04, 2012, 09:52:05 PM »
Peggy, thanks for that link. I just adjusted the chair back up a bit. OMG! :)

Marie-Louise is right. I don't have a sewing room, so no easy rolling from one station to the next, which turns out is a good thing for my back. I intentionally have the cutting table and iron set up each in other rooms, notions & supplies in two areas to force me to get up and move around frequently. If I'm doing small fiddly quilt piecing I keep a small cutting mat & 8 x 10" press board with a cordless - read lightweight - iron by the machine. Otherwise I'm on the move. There's also a small kitchen timer in my tool kit. Flylady is right: You can do anything for 15 minutes! Less efficient I suppose, but I only sew for us and I'm so dang slow anyway that it ceases to be an issue. My body just won't take "sweatshop" style sewing anymore.                                                                                                                                                                         

When you adjust your machine you will need to adjust your light as well.

Rene

Offline sewvt

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Re: Best height for sewing machine?
« Reply #6 on: April 05, 2012, 02:00:18 PM »
Marie-Louise, you're so right.  Staying in one position for too long is murder on your body and there's no good way around being hunched forward somewhat to use a machine.  I have hip and back issues.  Positions that work for one, don't for the other.  The silver lining to that is that it does force you to change positions!

Rene, I have a friend you loves to cook and intentionally organizes her kitchen supplies to keep her moving and bending A LOT.  Would drive me crazy to fetch the cinnamon from the back of the pantry and the flour from the bottom drawer across the kitchen, but she thinks of it as an exercise program.   :laugh:

Offline marie-louise

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Re: Best height for sewing machine?
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2012, 02:28:42 PM »
When I was still working, my company installed these annoying popups onto everyone's computers, with this odd little animated character doing ergonomic exercises for 2 minutes an hour. It helped; it actually felt really good to roll your neck and twist your back and such.

Although I can set my sewing space up to pivot in my chair and iron, I find I have less back pain if I leave the ironing board set up high so I have to stand every time I need to press a seam.  While I'm waiting for the iron to heat, I can pick up the Theraband on my desk and do a few shoulder stretches.

When I was 30, I loved to sit in one place and sew, sew, sew for hours on end. I can't do that anymore. I do much better when I sew for 10 minutes, get up and iron for 5 minutes, and so on.

Offline su-sew

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Re: Best height for sewing machine?
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2012, 11:58:41 PM »
 I can't imagine pressing or ironing while sitting in a chair. I always stand for that.

I think the pain is also telling me I need to exercise more. Lately, I've been so busy at work and working extra hours that going to the gym has no appeal at the end of long day.  Sewing is exercising my brain in a way different from what I do at work, even though I do little on sewing on weeknights- only if I have the mental energy.
My blog: sewstyled.wordpress.com

Offline AnniePA

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Re: Best height for sewing machine?
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2012, 03:30:26 AM »
In my sewing room I need to lower everything.  I'm so short that all the 'standard' heights are about 3" too high.  Unfortunately, it means that I need someone to cut metal to acomplish the task.  I don't know anyone to do it. 

As for the exercises...swimming is the best overall exercise.  Nice easy, dare I say lazy strokes are absolutely the best!  My back stopped hurting, legs, arms, neck.  I feel so loose and relaxed  and GOOD even though I have fibromyalgia.    Yes, going out to the gym is a time issue, but it is definitely worth it. 
AK

Offline tumblina

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Re: Best height for sewing machine?
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2012, 10:28:09 AM »
Personally, I find it better for me to have my seat lower and raise my hands, because it's my neck that hurts, not my back. Likely from spending the rest of the day hunched over a computer ;). Having an adjustable chair is even better, as switching levels forces you to use different muscles.

Offline Doris W. in TN

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Re: Best height for sewing machine?
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2012, 12:10:20 PM »
All the suggestions already posted are very good.  Having everything at the right height for your body is important, but maintaining good back posture is just as important.     I have a bad tendency to slump down in order to get my eyes closer to something.   That is when my back goes out.    I have to remember to keep my lower back straight and not hunch over something.

Years ago, my chiropractor told me to stop every 20 minutes, stand up, walk around, stretch.   I had to buy a kitchen timer that helped me remember.   I can get engrossed in my sewing or quilting and lose all track of time.

 

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