Why Your Sewing Machine Needs More Than Just A Table
A sewing machine in itself seems incomplete. You may need a few more accessories to truly customize it to your needs and desires. Dust covers, cabinets and especially sewing machine tables for the newer models. Luckily, my slick black mechanical Singer came with a custom made table which you can convert into a desk. It comes with a grandiosely designed pedal made of soldered metal bearing the Singer logo. This is what fuels my preference for the old school; they come built-in and complete. With the more recent electronic and computerized machines, all you really get is the machine.
This is where people make the mistake of placing it atop any surface for sewing projects. Although doing so wouldn’t directly damage the machine, it will take a toll on your body and performance. Mechanical or vintage models as I like to call them are already outfitted with sewing machine tables. These are based on the machine’s measurements with some leeway for the fabric, your elbow and your comfort. I have used the old Singer model in high school and still do today after a decade and it has never caused any problems from prolonged use. This I attribute to the table which really revolves around the design of the sewing machine and has become an integral element as well.
So here are a few tips that every sewer, no matter how dedicated or how much of a novice.
Look for one that is elbow height and will keep your wrists straight when working
It is important to consider first, the height of your sewing table. Imagine it a bit higher than your elbows and you will strain your wrists, arms and shoulders while reaching up, sewing. Now, anything too low and you’ll strain our back from leaning forward and hunching towards your project all the time.
Consider enough work space
This was a vital element I had foregone when considering a table. Because mine came customized and attached to my vintage Singer machine, I had a huge problem with larger fabrics and bigger patterns. Unfortunately, my sewing machine table only allows enough elbow room for smaller projects like pouches or sleeves. Anything more would fall to the floor. I am now considering attaching an unsightly plank of wood to extend work space. Don’t make the same mistake.
Lighting is everything
Lighting is easy enough to manipulate. If your work table isn’t a solid mass of wood, then you can move it around from site to site. Or invest in additional lighting if need be and save your eyes from any extra stress that could have been avoided. I hated the overhead white light in my parents’ house where my vintage Singer was situated so I borrowed a retractable standing lamp to add an angled brightness in my workspace.
Allow for enough space below
Another factor sewers need to think about is the space under the table where your legs will go. I personally enjoy moving my legs from left to right because I can never stay still. Also, not enough leg room can lead to cramps and obstruct blood circulation to your legs. Leave some room for stretching.
Get a good chair
Look for a chair that will elevate you to the right height which is straight elbows atop the surface of your sewing machine table. I prefer swivel chairs that provide back support so I can take a minute to relax if the project becomes too taxing. In sewing class, the tables were complemented with stools which I found uncomfortable in my rear and in my back so I could never sit for long hours on one project.
So, besides a sewing machine, all the not-so-little details that come with it have to match your preferences. The more comfortable you are when sewing, the more efficient you become. Tried and tested myself. With a sewing machine table just at my height, a plush swivel chair to my liking, enough space in my work area and for leg room, and adjustable lighting, I could finish sewing patterns and smaller projects in double the time. Another factor to consider is one’s preferences for cubby holes and drawers on the table. Other sewers, myself included, prefer to have everything we need right on site. Imagine the table as your one-stop shop with all the extras you’ll have to use eventually like needles, bobbins, just to name a few. So, ruminate on your needs and preferences before you have anything made or buy anything (on sale most preferably). Happy sewing!