5 Simple Ideas to improve Sewing Room Ergonomics

I have been doing a lot of research into sewing room ergonomics. I have the privilege of having a dedicated room for my sewing and I have been rearranging it using the principles of feng shui and ergonomics. For this post, I am looking specifically at ergonomics and will do a post on Fengshui later.

As someone who practices yoga – posture and alignment are important to me. My posture and small back discomfort have improved significantly since I started practising yoga. A natural extension has been improving posture while sewing.

circa 2015 – the stool was not correct height, no back support and the table where my machine sat was too low.  Unsurprisingly I found that I had a lot of discomfort and pain in my lower back and my neck area. The machine was also located in a corner that got the least amount of light causing me to bend over and squint when sewing.
circa 2015 – doing Sashiko for PRSewing Bee. Even with hand sewing I was not paying attention to my posture. My neck angle is all wrong. Shoulders are hunched.

Sewing involves repeated movements of the arm and shoulder while the spine doesnt move. I was stooped over quite a lot and seeing pictures like this made me aware of the need for change.

 

There is a lot of ongoing research on ergonomics in the sewing industry. Fashion is a billion-dollar industry. It relies on sewing, therefore, sewing is quite important.

A useful diagram for sewing ergonomics is this:

 

 

Image source: Pinterest

I like this image because it shows the wrong way and the right way. I used to be like the top drawing and leaning over which was really bad.

Lighting

The thing I found to have the most difference was the lighting. Adequate lighting to prevent slouching. I moved my working table with the machine directly under the skylight and it made such a huge difference indeed to my posture.

My Machine is now under the skylight. Its also directly in front of the light fitting for night time sewing. Better light on my work all round. You can see my chair  in situ as well.

Tilt Table –

I was lucky enough to find mine on Ebay for £30. It tilts the sewing machine angle which in turn reduces slouching over to see clearly. It improved the view of the needle and meant I could sit back in a comfortable position. I cant find them here in the UK but I did find this site in the US.

Sew Ergo Advantage T1 Sewing Machine Tiltable Table Angled Sloped Platform 18x11x3″ Relieves Neck and Upper Back Strain
My Tilt Table on my Husqvarna Sewing machine
Back View of the sewing tilt table

Adjustable chair with back support and cushioning.

I was using a stool before which meant I couldn’t control the angle of my knees or elbows which caused more strain. It need not be expensive – I picked mine up for £4 from a local charity shop. Ebay and Gumtree are also good sources of preloved bargains.

Adjustable height chair with back support bought from a charity shop for £4.
Image of Boss Office Deluxe Posture Chair from MostCraft.com

Positioning your iron correctly to avoid back pain.

This was a hard one for me because I didn’t think it would make a difference but really I do spend as much time ironing as I do sewing! I press every seam so that follows. Additionally, I iron our laundered clothes. I had never stopped to think about how to do this correctly and what a revelation! I was amazed at what a difference this made towards maintaining my posture and making ironing less tiring.

Basically, shoulders should be relaxed and back in upright position. Adjust ironing board to a comfortable level where you don’t have to stoop or bend over and stand with one knee bent as you iron. You can use a stool as well but adjusting so the elbow angle is at a right angle.

http://www.abackforlife.org/24hrepasser.htm

I placed the  power cable on the ironing board so as to avoid constantly bending over to turn iron on and off.

Hanging iron cord

A final point in my journey is that I found hanging my iron cord so it falls to the iron has made ironing that much more comfortable. I don’t have to pull the cord along. I implemented this based on the pictures and videos I saw of the sewing industry. It’s a simple fix – I installed a hook just over where my ironing board is.

Hook on wall to hang the cable.
Simple knob bought from Anthropologie (during a sale) for £4.50. I could have bought something functional but sometimes pretty is nice too 🙂

 

 

A simple alternative is this Iron flex cord :

Brabantia Iron Flex Guide – Black

These are simple and small things that in the long run have reduced the muscle ache and strain I would get from long periods of sewing. My next project with this is to work on setting up a standing sewing station. However, this requires more financial input than is available so it is on my wishlist for the future but I have read a lot of positive things about standing workstations.

EDIT- A comment mentioned this desk which I have added to my wish list Skarsta SIt/Stand adjustable desk.  It is adjustable and looks quite functional.

Another thing I did was to print out the sewing ergonomics picture and pin it across from my workstation to have that constant visual feedback and reminder.

Thanks so much for stopping by! I hope you have enjoyed this post – do you have any tips to share about improving posture and reducing muscle strain while sewing? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Peace and love,

Hila

Further reading

A fascinating site about movement – https://www.nutritiousmovement.com/a-day-in-the-life/

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/sewing/sewingstationdesign.html

http://www.sewing.org/files/guidelines/21_110_sewing_room_setup_for_healthy_sewing.pdf

 

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My 8th Moneta needs no introduction….

Hey hey guys!

One of my favourite dresses on the planet is finally on the blog! Whoop! Its a Moneta dress – number 8! Will there ever be a number 10? How many more can I make? Only time will tell. In the meantime this is a pictures post :-)..

Colette Patterns Moneta Dress
Colette Patterns Moneta Dress – awesome stripe matching!
Colette Patterns Moneta Dress – Pockets are EVERYTHING!
Colette Patterns Moneta Dress
Colette Patterns Moneta Dress – Slightly wonky but who cares?
Colette Patterns Moneta Dress – Dancing!
Colette Patterns Moneta Dress – “Oh no Mr Mad Hatter, I drank from the bottle that said ‘Drink Me’ and now I can almost touch the ceiling!” Caption by Diane DreamCutSew.com
Colette Patterns Moneta Dress Dont know what to call this pose….
Colette Patterns Moneta Dress – “I woke up like this and this is how I yawn” 🙂
Colette Patterns Moneta Dress – This is my ” I mean business pose” 🙂

Pictures taken at The StitchRoom Sewcial. Fabric was from Fletchers Fabrics in Leeds Market.

Dress in motion here..

Thanks for stopping by and until next time happy sewing 🙂

Peace and love,

Hila

xox

Sleeveless Peplum Blouse BurdaStyle 07/2015 #114 #burdachallenge2018

BurdaStyle 07/2015 #114B

Here is a pattern that I like so much I made several of them in succession! I like the simple look and feel of the pattern. It is something that I have had traced for almost 2 years but never got round to making it. It seems I have made up for that.

Sleeveless Peplum Blouse 07/2015 #114

Sleeveless Peplum Blouse 07/2015 #114

I have the tops in this Youtube video here

So I made it in the John Kaldor Lizzano sateen fabric first. The John Kaldor was something I fell for when my friend Ali (akathimberlina) showed hers on IG and I quickly bought from an online shop. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of the shop. Its beautiful vibrant fabric that I used to make a shirtdress the M6696 shirtdress and used leftovers to make some this top.

I managed to sew this out of just under a meter of fabric. The rest was used to make a sash.

BurdaStyle 07/2015 #114B
BurdaStyle 07/2015 #114B
BurdaStyle 07/2015 #114B
BurdaStyle 07/2015 #114B

The instructions tell you to insert an elastic on the waist but opted not to do that as I found (much to my surprise) that I like the free boxy look.

Instead of sewing the armhole bias binding in the round, here is what I did:

After finishing the neckline I sewed up the shoulder seams. Then sewed the armhole binding in the flat. Next, I sewed the side seams. I fell like this was far easier and neater than sewing in the round.

 

So when it came time to think about my #makenine2018 I knew that the barkcloth would look amazing in this pattern and I did not hesitate to cut into it. I love it!

BurdaStyle 07/2015 #114B
BurdaStyle 07/2015 #114B
BurdaStyle 07/2015 #114B
BurdaStyle 07/2015 #114B
BurdaStyle 07/2015 #114B

I also had some linen left over from the Hollyburn skirt I made a couple of years ago and it was just enough to make this top too. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures but you can see it on my Youtube channel at the link above.

And then I tried the longer non-peplum version of the top but with a few twists, i.e. adding a knit cuff neckline on a woven like I learnt when I made the Merchant and Mills Tee for my husband. It did quite work out though because I forgot to not stretch out the knit cuffing. I am so used to stretching it slightly when sewing but I needn’t have done it with this one so. It does do a bit of a puddle but never mind. The John Kaldor fabric is so comfy against the skin. I barely had 3/4m left from when I made the Sheath Dress.

Alterations

The line drawing shows that the back has a CB seam which means cutting 2 back pieces. I only did that with the first one. Subsequent ones were cut on the fold. It makes no difference at all because the CB is straight.

Size traced: 38.

Verdict – Definitely, a great top that I have no doubt I will come back to again and again. I had a think about which one is my favourite and………..its…………

Making my first print at The StitchRoom Sewcial, Loughborough University, June 2018. Picture courtesy of Lucy Regan, SewEssential.co.uk

 

Thanks for stopping by and until next time

Happy Sewing!

Hila

XoX