If you’ve had your head down churning out scrubs and masks for the past few months, you’ll be familiar with how unkind repetitive sewing can be on the body.
I have no idea how sweatshop workers cope, but my own clothing factory career (as a cutter) was only kept afloat with regular chiropractic care and massage.
Too much repetitive sewing and poor sewing posture is tough on the neck, shoulders and back. However, paying attention to both your sewing habits and your sewing area set-up means you can sew for longer and more comfortably.
While I’m no occupational therapist, here’s a few changes in my work practices that have really helped.
The kindergarten chair
Is your chair the right height for your machine? Most kitchen table and chair sets are the wrong height – the chair is typically too high. Fine for dining but not sitting at a sewing machine.
In the past I put my sewing machine on phone books to bring it up to a better height, so I wasn’t cricking my neck bending over it. Then I requisitioned this old kindergarten chair and made myself lower. It’s perfect!
The mini ironing board
If you’re tall and find your ironing board doesn’t get as high as you’d like, a mini ironing board is a handy solution. Set it up on your regular ironing board – I use it when I know I’ll be standing for a long time to iron small details. If you’re a patchwork quilter, it’s great for pressing quilt block pieces.
This mini ironing board was second hand but it originally came from Ikea; I got it for sewing classes to make an ironing station and I use it at home too. I made a new cover for it and beefed-up the padding.
For the times when we need to hand sew, sitting at a table with your work supported on the table top is a good setup. But what if you want to sew in an armchair in front of the TV? A cushion on your lap will bring your sewing up to a better height. It also doubles as a giant pincushion, but don’t forget to take out the pins!
Have you got any great ideas to make sewing more comfortable? Please share them in the comments below.