Quilting is a contact sport–Man vs Machine. I’ve spilled more blood, sweat, and tears sewing then in my decades of basketball and running (and I’m pretty good at falling…). By far, my worst injury so far has been throwing out my back. I literally just bent over to pick a pin off the ground and couldn’t sit upright for three days. Pathetic. But it taught me a valuable lesson about posture and taking care of my body. I work 9-5 at a desk only to come home to spend the evening hunched over a sewing machine. I had to do something for my back. Vague information on the interwebs about a standing quilting table piqued my interest. When I moved back to the US from Korea and had to buy a whole new sewing set up, I decided to give it go. And yes! It really does work! My hours of quilting are no longer cut short by my backaches–They’re cut short because I start making sleepy mistakes. Here’s my setup:
It all starts with a bar height table. I got mine from Big Lots for about $200. It’s 36″ tall, 60″ long, and 30″deep. I chose the specific table (Raleigh Grey Storage Pub Dining Table) because there’s a shelf on the side. I use it to store threads and notions close by, but out of the way. It’s a steady table that doesn’t bounce or rock around when I sew, but it’s not quite perfect.
I’m fairly tall (5’9″), and I found myself hunching over a bit using the sewing machine directly on the table. To compensate, I now use a cardboard box (supported with some Styrofoam inside) to boost the machine up about 6″ to a more comfortable height. A more aesthetically pleasing solution could be using wood crates (cut down to size) or to add blocks under the legs of the table. Of course, if you’re shorter than me, you may not have to do anything!
I have also seen electric standing tables that allow you to raise and lower the table, but those are pretty pricey and not as big as mine. I also can’t speak to their stability when you’re racing at top speed to finish a seam. My original quilting table in my first apartment was a folding table that would wobble like the high seas when I sewed. Now, I’m much more careful about what I buy.
But how do you sew standing up?
Does the pedal even touch the floor? This was what I was super worried about when I decided to go for a standing quilting table. I have two sewing machines, and the pedals for both my Brother FS50 and Singer Talent reach for floor with cord to spare, even with the machines on my booster box. Just look at the picture above!
The other part I was worried about was actually pressing on the pedal to sew. Would I lose control of my sewing speed? No! I haven’t at all. It’s all very manageable. I keep my heel firmly on the ground, supporting half of my weight (make sure you support your weight evenly between your feet or you can hurt your hips!). Then I pivot my ankle to control my speed.
And what do you do if you get tired?
I’ve got a chair for that! I use a bar height desk chair that I can wheel here or there. When I get tired and want to sew sitting down, I remove the box from under my machine and place it underneath my desk like a foot stool to raise the sewing pedal to a good height. Another thing I do on longer sewing nights is just lean my butt against the edge of the seat so I’m still standing, but some of the weight is taken off my feet.
Overall, I love my standing quilting table. It’s so nice to be able to stretch or rest my legs as I work through a project. And my back has stayed a lot more pain free. If you are interested in a standing quilting table, I highly recommend it, and I don’t ever see myself going back to a sitting-only sewing table.