Quilting Ergonomics – How to Be Comfortable While You Quilt or Sew


Hi, I’m Marguerita McManus and I want to talk to you today about the ergonomics of sewing and quilting. Which really means trying to be as comfortable as you possibly can, so that you enjoy sewing and quilting as much as you can. And you don’t cause pain to your body. Which I get pretty adamant about. I hear a lot of times quilters, and just sewers in general, will say they’re clearing off the dining room table for their project. And, makes my back hurt when I hear them say something like that, because the dining room table is way too high for you to be setting a sewing machine on top of. and sewing and quilting with comfort. It’s just ergonomically bad for your back, for your shoulders, and for your arms. You’re going to be straining your entire body when you’re doing that, you might actually not even know that’s what making you uncomfortable. You might be frustrated with your sewing, or afterwards think “Oh, that wasn’t very much fun”. When it’s really not the sewing or quilting project that you’re working on. It’s the environment you’ve set up by having things that don’t really fit well, and a sewing machine on a dining room table is not a good fit for anybody. You would have to be about six foot four to be able to sew comfortably like that. I’m five foot six and that’s going to give you an idea of the proportions I’m working with today. If you’re a petite woman you need to reduce everything even more. So, here I’ve got my most favorite thing in the entire world. The is an office chair. I’ve taken the arms off of it. And it’s pneumatic. So when I sit down, there’s a little bit of a bounce to it. which takes all the pressure off my spine when I sit, and it’s set for the right height for me. which is fairly low, but you can see I have a little bit more than a ninety-degree angle for my legs. My feet are flat on the floor. There’s no pressure right here. If you feel a pressure ridge on your legs, that’s going to cut off the blood circulation and it’s going to make you feel uncomfortable and sluggish while you’re sewing. So, this is my number one big deal. Over here, on this side, you’re going to see my sewing and quilting table. Almost 10,000 people have watched that on YouTube, I’m so proud! This is a brand new acquisition. I love these old sewing machines. It’s a total gem. This is a Kenmore from sometime in the 1970’s, I think. It’s just a wonderful machine. Came in this great looking cabinet. But it’s not a great cabinet at all. And I’m going to show you why. First of all, look at how I sit here. This is the opening, okay, there’s way too much space there. And this is way too high! My arms are–I’m having to lift my arms up, just to be able to put them at the sewing surface. This is the better height, so two or three inches. Now, I wouldn’t mind cutting off the legs on this. That would not be a problem. And that’s the first thing I thought of. “Well, I’ll just cut the legs off”. But then my next issue… I’ve got three points that are real important to me: the chair, the height of the sewing machine, and then being centered. So here I’ have my chair shoved right…. according to the framework of the machine (table), right where it’s supposed to be.
So here I’ have my chair shoved right…. according to the framework of the machine (table), right where it’s supposed to be. But look where the needle is. It’s over here! I’m not going to sew like this, sideways. If I move the chair I’ve got to deal with this leg that’s in my way. So, the bottom line is: cabinet’s toast. Just get rid of it. So this table is going to go. I can easily take the machine out of it, They all come out of the cabinets. If you’ve got a setup like this I can tell you how to get the machine out. It’s pretty easy. There’s just a couple of screws in the back that hold it in. And then you can set it up wherever is comfortable for you. Don’t give up on this old treasure just because of the cabinet, okay? Let’s go take a look at my favorite sewing setup. My cheap quilting and sewing table. It’s over here. [noise] So here I am at my favorite table. I’ve got a couple of videos on YouTube about how to put this together. Cheap plastic folding table, styrofoam home insulation. You can use any kind of styrofoam. Something that gives you a nice, firm surface. Vinyl across the top just to make it nice and slick so that your fabric and quilts and everything slides over it nice and easy. I can fit right underneath here, with the chair height perfect for me. My feet are flat on the floor. My shoulders are down. Arms a little bit more than a 90-degree. Centered in front of the sewing machine needle. Scoot over just a little. But perfectly set up. I could sit here and sew for hours and hours. And isn’t that what we all want to do? I hope this helped. I hope that you’ll share it with your friends.
And isn’t that what we all want to do? I hope this helped. I hope that you’ll share it with your friends. Quilters, sewing enthusiasts. Anyone that you think it might help. Thanks for watching.