Image via Washington Post

Sitting at a sewing machine or longarm can be a pain in the neck, back, and other organs in your body...literally. While you enjoy long stretches of time stitching away, those hours can take their toll.  Not only does sitting for long periods of time add to poor circulation in your legs and elevated levels of cholesterol, potential back problems can also occur due to the compression of our spinal disks.  Think of it as sitting in front of the TV for hours on end.  You need to get up and move around periodically. This Washington Post article shares more about how your body is affected with prolonged sitting.


We found these great tips (Bloglovin') to keep yourself flexible during those long and wonderful sewing days:

  • Take a break every 30 to 45 minutes to get up and move your body. Walk around and do some stretches or even the desk jockey workout.
  • When you do sit, focus on keeping your ears and shoulders lined up. That will go a long way in avoiding the shoulder slumping that often occurs when working at a desk. Again, you don’t need to strain your shoulders backwards, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to tense up to hold them back; just align them with your ears and keep them relaxed. If you’re having a hard time with that, a neat little hack I found on Breaking Muscle is to get a cheap inflatable travel pillow and put it around your neck while you work. When you start bringing your head forward and your shoulders up, you’ll feel the pillow pressing against your ears, reminding you to move your head and shoulders back to a neutral spine position.
  • Another thing to focus on while sitting is to make sure your feet rest flat on the floor, with your knees and hips bent 90 degrees. Your elbows should also bend at 90 degrees while typing or resting on the arm rests of your chair. If your knees, hips, and elbows aren’t bent correctly, adjust your chair until they are.

Improve your flexibility in 30 seconds.

Now that you are completely relaxed and limber from all of those wonderful stretching exercises, let's look at what your bum is parked on.  Not all bums or chairs are alike. It's not a one size fits all kind of option for most of us. If your are 5' 2" with short legs and your girlfriend Sally is 5' 10" with legs that never end, the choice of chairs for each of you is going to be very different. Bottom line...you need to test drive a variety of chairs to find the one that works best for you.  Remember when you were sewing machine shopping? The purchase of a chair should require the same amount of effort. Most have the same bells and whistles, so this is where a test drive is optimal. You will be spending a lot of time with your bum in a seat so make sure it is the best fit for you.

Here are a few chair options to get you started:

Heavenly Chairs are designed with the sewer in mind.   While not inexpensive, models are available for the petite, mid-level and tall sewer in mind. With 150 fabric choices and additional attachments, the chair can be custom made to fit your style and personality. HeavenlySeating

The BERNINA model BC 12090.00 offers hydraulic lift, adjustable height, a contoured back and lumbar support. AllBrands

See what Alex had to say about it.

Koala lets you choose a color and base finish to match their existing studio colors. Six-way adjustments provide hours of sewing comfort.

With a contoured seat and back with lumbar support, thick padded seat, pneumatic height adjustment, and 6-Way adjustment for extra comfort, the Horn adjustable chair just might be the perfect fit.

The Arrow Hydraulic Chair even includes a liftable seat cushion to reveal a hidden storage compartment for your small notions or patterns.

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#14 SharieMD 2018-03-21 16:06
For sewing table options for short sewists, consider pneumatic adjust tables from an office supply store, or an adjustable work bench usually found in a warehouse store. Both go lower than standard sewing machine cabinets.
#13 Ellen Levesque 2018-03-21 15:07
TLinda & others that need tables for shorter people, there are multiple height adjustable table that are very inexpensive in teacher supply catalogs & websites. I have a semi-circle shaped reading table that my husband cut a hole in for my machine. They come in many colors too. The height is perfect for standard table needs also.
#12 Irene 2018-03-21 09:41
I have bought my chair already some 20 yrs ago, in a store for office equipment. Even the low-back section can be adjusted, which is very helpfull with any work at hand, as is the swing option as well.(supports moving forwards!) It includes adjustable lower arm rests, which I use when doing manual scores, putting on binding and scores like that. Never economize on funtionality or ergonomics!
#11 BjoLiz 2018-03-19 16:23
Great chair. I bought one at Houston during Quilt Festival. A couple of years back the center bottom section with the 5 legs cracked and was scraping the floor because it slipped down. I contacted Horn and established it was under warranty. Never got my rolling base section. Never. I almost threw it away, but surfed the web and Ended up ordering one ourselves from another company. Been working great ever since then. Was disappointed in Horn for failing to help me with this easy fix.
#10 MaterialChick 2018-03-19 12:41
A number of years ago, on some TV quilting show (sorry I don't remember which one), it was suggested putting 2 rubber door stops under the back edge of the sewing machine (domestic). This raises the back slightly, making it easier to see the needle. It has greatly improved my ability to see the work area.
#9 Barbara Hoffman 2018-03-19 10:48
I am short, so I bought a drafting chair a long time ago to use at my sewing machine. It is adjustable for height and depth.
#8 Helenet 2018-03-19 09:31
Ove Alex with the Bernina chair. I have had mine for about 18 months and love it but learned so much more about it. Thank you I am no longer worried about adjusting it and getting it wrong.
#7 TLinda 2018-03-19 08:34
All of this information is fine but not useful if you are 5'1" tall. There is no sewing cabinet that is low enough for someone of my height if they need to have their knees at a 90 degree angle. Adjustable sturdy sewing tables and cabinets can be made higher not lower. Sewing, for me, means persistent shoulder pain.
#6 Carol 2018-03-19 06:50
Put the timer on to only sit/quilt for only 15 min at a time before you stand up and move. learn to do yoga. go to a good yoga therapist that can give you some simple stretches. this guy has the right idea but for most people you need to be strong enough to hold your own weight on one arm. if you are not equipped with strong arms you could so some serious damage trying this. lay on a swimming noodle covered with blankets it not only opens the thorasic but the shoulders. start small and increase your minutes.
#5 KathyB 2016-10-20 11:35
I keep my ironing away from my sewing so I have to get up and move around. It sometimes seems too often but chain piecing helps so more can be pressed at once and I am standing/walkin g a little longer.
Glasses definitely help my posture. I hope to get a good chair soon.
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