Comfortable Quilting Tips

This past week our son had a few well deserved days off of work – which meant grandpa and I had some time off from child care. Mike decided to make good use of the time, and beautiful weather, making fuel for our wood-burner.

lumberjack-mike-2016

And I was able to finish my current competition quilt! The deadline is this week, so the timing was perfect! I had previously machine quilted about 1/3 of the project, and the time had come to do the free-motion background fillers. I placed the quilt under my HQ Sweet 16 and hooked it up to my “Quilt Float” system (for details on the Quilt Float, click here and then here). That’s my #1 suggestion for making quilting more comfortable!

comfortable-quilt-float

The clamps hold the bulk of my quilt and carry the weight, so everything moves easily under the needle. This works for domestic sewing machines as well as mid-arms, and it makes the entire process so much less strenuous!

You may have noticed the magnifier arched in front of the machine. It is one of my favorite new tools and my #2 recommendation for making quilting more comfortable. It has a “goose-neck” arm attached to a heavy duty clamp for easy positioning, and it increases my visibility so much now that my eyes are over 60  :-). I purchased mine in Paducah a few years ago, but I did find it on-line at jabetc.com

comfortable-quilt-mag2

Don’t you just love my quilting gloves? I got them in the gift shop at the International Rose Gardens in Portland, Oregon last year when Wendy and I took a group of quilters to the Sisters Quilt Show (click here for information on our next adventure). Quilting gloves make moving the quilt so much easier, and are #3 on my list of recommendations for making quilting more comfortable.

So, I began to quilt, but I still couldn’t seem to get comfortable. I tried adjusting my chair height (elbows should be even with the table top), but that didn’t help. I scooted the foot pedal around, but that too wasn’t working. What was wrong??? I finally stopped long enough to analyze the situation and realized the chair was cutting into the back of my legs. I’m not sure why I hadn’t had this problem before (could it have something to do with that age thing again?), but it was bugging me now – and I needed to do something about it – fast!

It occurred to me that I needed to raise my feet off the floor. I found a sturdy, 3″ tall cardboard box in the attic and it did the trick! It was especially nice to have both of my feet on the platform. I felt much more balanced and a whole lot more comfortable. Thus, “raising the floor” is tip #4.

comfortable-quilting

You might have noticed there are small blocks of wood under the feet of my sewing machine table. This is my husband’s method for protecting the carpet, and it did raise the table about 1″, exacerbating my problem. Since I’m 5′ 6″ tall and this worked for me, I bet “raising the floor” could really be helpful for quilters with shorter legs.

Do you have any additional quilting comfort ideas to share?

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Last week Marla responded to my post about Slow Stitching with a picture. This is what she said:

“I love this slow stitching movement.  I started slowing down the process almost a year ago.  Sometimes life gets in the way of our quilting, and we become frustrated by not producing all the quilts we’ve designed in our minds.  I have started doing more handwork and improvisational piecing with minimal planning.  It’s very satisfying and quite beautiful.  I’ve attached a piece of embroidery on felted wool, all improvisational except for the leaf shape.”

Marla Morris-Kennedy slow stitching

It’s lovely, Marla. Thanks for sharing.

I’m hoping to try my hand at “slow stitching”, but it may need to wait until I’m past my “fast chasing after grandchildren” phase of life.


6 Opinions

  • Toni said:

    Thank You Chris. Valuable tips.

    Reply
  • Loreen said:

    I’ve been having a big problem with neck/shoulder pain recently. Any good ideas for that?

    Reply
    • clkquilt admin

      I’ve been dealing with that too. I do try to take frequent breaks and do stretching exercises. I’m currently shopping for a new bed pillow in hopes that will help. Anyone else have any suggestions for neck/shoulder pain while quilting?

      Reply
    • Donna said:

      My physical therapist said to move as soon as you feel uncomfortable. Have someone check your posture while your sewing. No slouching. You should be bending at your waist not at your shoulders.
      Raising your machine or lowering it may help. Google stretches for shoulders and neck for your age. Age makes a difference with stretches.

      Reply
    • Laurie said:

      Heard something last week at quilt guild I never heard before. When sitting at your machine to sew, your belly button should line up with your needle. Move your chair or machine so they line up. That way you aren’t twisting your spine and neck. I tried it and after 5 hours of sewing on Thursday my neck didn’t hurt. Who would have known?.😊

      Reply
  • Margaret said:

    My solution for the “foot thing” is to rest my “other” foot on a Bone Sponge – it measures about 4 x 8 x 2 1/2″ high ……… of course it compresses, but tends to equalize my legs.

    Reply

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