I am blessed in many ways, but with regards to my quilting, I am blessed with a room all to myself.
Now, I say this not because I brag, but because I want to encourage you to hold firm and stake your claim. Sewing is actually pretty hard on a person’s body, exacerbated by icky work set ups. The hardest thing to do is to sit in one position for long stretches of time. Maybe your neck starts to ache, your back hurts, your legs fall asleep. You have to hoist unwieldy, uncooperative heavy quilts around and under your machine. You wonder why you’re stiff and sore.
If you have your station set up properly, you’ll be able to concentrate on your work and not your neck.
First, an overall view of my work area:
You can see my cutting/ironing/painting table to the left, my machine table to the right, and a couple of other tables, assorted plastic storage, etc. (Just overlook the mess – I have too many projects all going at the same time!) I use an office chair that I can adjust to the proper height. Off to the left, on the wall behind the light, you can see my flannel design wall. It’s not much, but it all helps things come together faster!
Probably the single most important thing I ever purchased was a Plexiglas extension for my sewing machine bed. This allows more of the fabric weight and bulk to be supported. My stitches and machine tension are better because the weight of the fabric isn’t dragging off the front and back of the machine. I have free motion quilted full size quilts using my machine perched on top of an old table with the Plexiglas extension table.
Recently I purchased a small table that allows the machine to be dropped down into a little well. I took the little legs off the extension table, and it is perfect to provide a full, flat surface.Here you can see the way the machine drops down. The shiny part of the surface is the Plexiglas extension. It butts up against the machine bed, covering the well, and gives me the wonderful flat surface that keeps everything moving under the machine. I ordered my first one through an online retailer – I had to send in a drawing of my machine bed and they cut it the correct size. This one was an accessory sold by Bernina specifically for my machine. Probably overpriced, but actually worth every penny.
You can see the little gray table close to the window and the brown wooden trestle table to the left. These are additional surfaces that I can use to support the weight of my quilts.
Here’s what it looks like with a small quilt loaded:With my ironing pad and iron set up to the left, I can just swivel my chair between the sewing machine and the iron while I’m piecing. Really helps speed things along.
I can clear off the ironing table, fold out both leaves, and cut large swaths of fabric. It’s great. I think I got mine at JoAnn’s on sale.
I still struggle with the set up a bit, but my next adjustment is going to take a little doing. I’m a bit taller than average – 5’10″ – and I find most tables and desks to be a bit low. In some ways, it was actually more comfortable for me to work with the machine on top of a table with the Plexiglas extension because that extra 4″ or so up kept my back in a better place.
In order for me to raise this all up, I’m going to have to somehow put blocks under my sewing table, the little gray table, AND the brown wooden trestle table. Then I lose a bit of stability – who wants the table to come crashing down while thrashing around with a renegade quilt?
I suggest you take your time with your set up, really think about how it can work for you – it should be doing the work, not your back and neck. Good lighting, lots of work surface and a good chair make your quilting and crafts so much more enjoyable!
All the best – Chris