Quilting ergonomics

September 3, 2013

Quilters come in all shapes and sizes. So do quilting machines! It’s important to select one that fits your body type. Correct machine height and ergonomic features will allow you to quilt for many hours without fatigue and strain on your body. If you already have a quilting machine, check to see that you have it set properly.

Correct posture is important even in everyday activities such as walking and sitting. Your quilting machine should have adjustable height settings. Determining the proper height depends on which side of the machine you spend the most time. If you enjoy working on the pantograph side of the machine, you should be able to operate the machine properly without bending forward at the small of your back. Raise the machine until you can stand erect.

If the freehand side of the machine is your favorite, start with the machine’s quilt backing roller right at your belly button. Then stand at the machine and look at the needle. Move the machine forward and backward and evaluate whether you can see the needle area clearly without bending left or right to see. Adjust the machine’s height until your sight path remains clear. For ultimate comfort, consider adding an optional hydraulic lift to your table to instantly change the table height for different quilting situations.

Next evaluate the front handle positions. Adjustable handles add comfort and convenience, allowing you to keep your hands and wrists at a natural angle instead of encouraging poor form that leads to repetitive stress injuries.

Quilting is a lifelong hobby. Choose a machine that not only grows with your abilities, but also adapts to your body through the years. It should allow you to sit comfortably if you choose to, have good light to see what you are doing, be easy to move, and adjust to suit your quilting style. But most of all, it should be FUN!