Slumping while I sew

Have you considered your posture when sewing or crafting?  Mine is crap and I am heartily sick of aches and pains.

When I stopped to think about it I realised I do a bunch of things all wrong.  I hunch, lean a little sideways, push my chin forward and lift my shoulders.  I mean really, just writing that makes me ache.

So considering I have a long torso and legs without the benefit of a height adjustable sewing table, I have lowered my chair a couple of inches, made it more upright and centred it in front of the needle.  I hope it makes a difference – there were no headaches last night anyway.

What’s your posture like?  Have you ever thought about it or changed it?  I’d love to know.

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25 Responses to Slumping while I sew

  1. MrsC says:

    Honey what kind of machine do you have? I’m beginning to notice this stuff at work because we have so many different ones. The Berninas have awesome visibility, but the new Janomes, which in most ways are awesome, seem to be harder to see under – the fronts of the overhang seem to bulge out. Weird!
    I get aches and pains too, especially at sewing retreat when I do 16-18 hour sewing days (it’s actually my idea of heaven!!) but they never last and I reckon that if I haven’t got a permanent issue after all these years I am safe hehehe. I should be so lucky hese days anyway to get enough time to sew for myself, oi vey! 😉

    • I have a lovely Bernina 240 bought a couple of years ago but before that I had a small, squat little crappy piece of junk from the bottom end of Brother’s range. That’s probably where my sewing slouch began as it was pretty low and hard to see without craning necks etc. I think I need to get brighter lighting behind my machine too, especially as I’m sewing black linen at night these days….. (PS trousers are nearly done!).

      I have never done 16-18 hours of straight sewing (now I wish I had the opportunity because it would be wonderful). You’re right that because the aches don’t remain at the end of your marathon stints you’re probably alright. Right now I’m aching from gardening, but that’s another story.

  2. Javie says:

    I have upper back pain when I sew. Taking breaks helps- but when I am in the “zone”, I like to keep on going for hours (not good!). At work, I once had an ergonomic assessment done on my computer workstation. Learned that I needed to keep by head up straight (not bowed down) and elbows bent at 90 degrees (not some other weird angle). I also needed a foot rest to keep my feet firmly on something (and not dangling). I try to adjust the height of my table or prop by seat up when sewing to make similar adjustments. Also ocassional massages helps!

    • Hi Javie – yes all those sound very familiar as I had a similar assessment years ago at work. The only way I have found to stop myself bending my head down to see ‘under’ to the needle is to drop my chair right right down. It feels very strange and is a constant re-adjustment thing at the moment so I hope it will work out better. It should really. Oh and I will have to lassoo hubs into frequent massages me thinks.

  3. Tia Dia says:

    Y’know, I’ve *had* to think about my posture while sewing since 2007 because of a shoulder problem that can exacerbate into numbness and tingling down my right arm. Very annoying, I can assure you, especially during long periods of hand sewing. I guess it could also be a repetitive motion/stress injury from hours of smocking. I am very conscious now to sit up straight, both feet on the floor and any hand sewing at table or lap height with the table or a pillow holding the weight of the garment. It helps, but I still need to take breaks every 45 minutes or so.

    • I have to say I’m the same with knitting but its shoulders up that are the killer. I have to have a cushion behind me so my elbows can flap free else my shoulders end up by my ears. The break every 45 minutes or so is something I should start doing when I knit or hand sew too …. though I don’t have anything like the intensity of a smocking project to contend with.

      If you’ve been keeping it all at bay more or less, with posture, arm positioning and rest breaks then I’d say it means you’ve figured it out.

  4. prttynpnk says:

    I have a lumbar support- it’s a dachshund who thinks that he should lay between me and the chair with his head out the armrest. It works well as a heating pad and keeps me sitting up straight. The only problem is that when you get up to iron, you lose more space to him.

    • Hmmm, perhaps my cat would agree to serve a similar role for me, though the thought of claws immediately behind me might be somewhat counter productive lol. It would certainly keep the back straight, I couldn’t agree more.

  5. Gabrielle says:

    Hmm good point. My chair and table are not adjustable and my sewing table is crammed full of sewing-related stuff underneath so there is nowhere for my quite long legs to go. I usually end up with my legs in a weird sideways position, but I do seem to keep my back quite straight at least. We need OH&S sewing consultants to do home visits and set us all up correctly!

    • You must be doing great with your back then lol. I was thinking about OSH consultants too but decided that we’d end up being told we should purchase enormously expensive and very worthy chairs and desks and footrests which we wouldn’t do cos that would take the sewing stuff budget into the red for years to come. Then again, perhaps we’re in the wrong business X)

  6. soisewedthis says:

    Oh my shoulders always hurt from slouching. My chair doesn’t adjust but I could probably prop the machine up and I should also get a better light! And I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I’m always leaning in to get a better look at exactly how my stitching is going

  7. Arellis Pena says:

    I bought some bed risers to raise my table, but it was not high enough. Later, I realized that my huge white dresser (which I use to store my fabric) could be my sewing “table” and now I sew standing up and I LOVE it. My neck and back don’t hurt as I don’t slouch and I can see perfectly without having to do all sorts of weird neck moves anymore lol. Now I use the risers on my cutting table and that has kept me from having to lower myself over the table. Sitting down and cutting did not help because it made me put more force on my arms and hands as opposed to using my body weight in my favor. This has helped reducing pain from my carpal tunnel.

    • Oh my I hadn’t thought of standing up to sew. Do you use a foot pedal or something else to start and stop the needle? Very interesting.

      • Arellis Pena says:

        I use the foot pedal. It reaches the floor with some ease. The serger has to be on the corner of the side with the outlet because the cord is not as long.

      • Yes why are serger pedal cords so much shorter? If I don’t get any relief from my current setup I might need to consider raising the table or finding a taller something to commandeer. Regarding cutting fabric I have always cut out on the floor, kneeling which seems to stretch out my lower back rather nicely. I do get pins n needles in my legs – there’s always something.

  8. sewbusylizzy says:

    I sit on the little wooden stool when i sew. I find because I’m ‘perched’ I don’t slouch because there is nothing to slouch against! LOL

    • Hey that’s a great idea…… I shall have to think about that one as I need another chair in there anyway.

      • sewbusylizzy says:

        I picked mine up from Grandmother’s garage clean-out, half-sanded it back – never finished and 10 years later it is still in service as the sewing stool! I find it makes me lean forward and sit up straight. Yes it is not the most comfortable seat in the world, little wooden four-legged creature that it is, but between the cutting table, ironing board and machine, it doesn’t really matter.

  9. Yes, I have RSI so I’ve become quite careful about this. I am forever dragging my machines around the sewing table to get them into a good position. The big problem I have with sewing is remembering to take breaks and stretch. Getting up to press helps though.

    I hope you remain headache-free now you’ve adjusted your chair!

    • Oh where is your RSI? I’m impressed you are able to do so much sewing too and you’re absolutely right about pressing ‘enforcing’ those breaks.

      • I have shoulder and arm pain but I’m assured it all comes from bad posture and stress! One other thing I just remembered that helps: I had a lot of clutter under my desk at work and not being able to put my feet in the right place made my posture worse. I cleared it out and it made a surprising difference.

      • Stress is at the root of so many things in life we could do without though I hadn’t linked it to RSI till now. I don’t miss that part of my pre-kid life at all. About the clear space for feet and legs, I too have cleared up under my sewing table (the piles keep accumulating with remarkable speed) for the same reason.

  10. Jo says:

    lol, mine is terrible when I sew. I think my machine is too low and I get back aches. Boo! I should probably prop it up!

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