The Sewing Place

Sewing machine height


Sewing machine height
« on: November 25, 2019, 01:52:26 AM »
We're hoping to build a new house next year, and I'm planning my new sewing space. Hopefully I'll get new built-in cabinetry for my machine. Currently I have a make-shift table that I've been using for 30yrs. It's made of modular drawer components with a door for the top. I know it's higher than would be recommended for proper ergonomics, but I'm used to it. Once a month, I haul my machine to a group quilting workshop where it's set up on a standard height folding table.  After those days, I end up with a sore back, maybe from the sewing height, or maybe from the height of the tables we use for layout (standard tables on bed risers).  In comparison to your body, what is a comfortable height for the bed of your machine?


Re: Sewing machine height
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2019, 10:46:32 AM »
I'm a  short person 5'O"  (well I was for most of my life, old age may have changed that) so approx 152cms.

I have two different surface heights in my sewing room. Largest expanse @3metres, and the height is 77cms, used for/with sewing machines and coverstitch machine. It comprises of two office desks which fix together.and accommodates at least 3 machines with space for fabric as used.
A separate unit height is 77cms in height with a pull out pivoting section with a height of 74cms Used for/with overlocker and and blind hemmer.

Lot's of storage space beneath

A Horn Hobby Chair with adjustable height/tilt etc. allows me to  'scoot' between the areas depending on which machine I am using and I adjust the chair as required so no issues with varying heights, makes life very easy.

I've had various Horn cabinets over the years, the largest was a Sewmate 2, very like the current Horn Superior, just short of £1400 today. Airlift, storage for machine and overlocker, pull out side extension a lift up area to the back. Yes, I could close it up and close the doors but to be honest it was in my sewing room so what was the point? Two machines accommodated no more space.

The units I use today are more than adequate for my needs and were all free!

The Horn Hobby Chair is great but I'm sure there are other chairs available with the same capabilities and far cheaper to purchase.

Covers for the various machines protect them from dust.

That's my set up.

Everyone's situation is different, space, number of machines, whether they have to be put away between use, all affect choice. I find the very versatile chair allows for better utilisation of the more fixed and rigid limitations of desks, work surfaces and cabinets.


Re: Sewing machine height
« Reply #2 on: November 25, 2019, 14:54:50 PM »
Thank you for answering, @Sewbusy.

I think I didn't word my question very clearly. I'm not asking about actual measurements, as every person is a different height and will want their machine at a different height. I'm curious about the ergonomics- what height is comfortable in relation to your body. Is the sewing surface of your machine at elbow height with your arm bent? Below elbow so your fore-arm slopes downward, higher so your upper arms are required to angle away from your body? Currently my Sew Easy surface is above my (admittedly slightly saggy) bust point. I know I need lower, but I don't know how much lower.


Re: Sewing machine height
« Reply #3 on: November 25, 2019, 15:05:30 PM »
There's this or this

Any good? I should check mine!


Re: Sewing machine height
« Reply #4 on: November 25, 2019, 15:13:10 PM »
I drop the height on my chair and adjust the seat rake forward when using the machine and raise the height and adjust the seat and backrest backwards for hand sewing.  I like to be fairly close to the machine work so I work low, but it's a matter of preference.  I can't sew in a dining chair, say, because the muscles between my shoulder blades just get so tight.

In other words, it's more important that you have unimpeded knee clearance (and don't forget about the need to swivel without cracking your patellae on a drawer pedestal or supporting leg!) and a decent adjustable chair than is the absolute height of the sewing surface.  However, if you have the space and the cash an adjustable-height cutting surface would be heaven, especially one with baskets/hoppers either end to catch fabric and stop it falling to the floor then dragging the remaining fabric with it!  No more crawling around the floor!


Re: Sewing machine height
« Reply #5 on: November 25, 2019, 16:12:18 PM »
I found this YouTube video very helpful. I haven't put it to good use yet though. My machine is too high and I need a better adjustable chair. There will have to be a sewing room clear out before I can get it sorted.


Re: Sewing machine height
« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2019, 17:46:18 PM »
@WendyW Some good information from other members and very useful to see how other people do things.

I think predominantly, for me the versatility of chair is the most important item, it gives me the freedom to use many differing levels  of surfaces to sit safely and  and comfortably. I use a foot rest when at the computer desk and sometimes stiles a something in the sewing room to the same effect. Moving foot pedals can be an issue, I sometimes elevate mine a little!

A little like getting into a car and adjusting the seat, rear view mirror and side mirrors before setting off to ensure safe and comfortable driving. We do  a lot instinctively and  our body soon lets us know if it doesn't like something and then it is common sense to correct what causes the issue by whatever means we have available.

Safe and comfortable sewing ahead for you.


Re: Sewing machine height
« Reply #7 on: November 25, 2019, 18:21:37 PM »
Thanks for asking this question @WendyW . It prompted me to read the links I posted and it's finally sunk in that it's the height of the needle plate that counts, not the counter top. In which case my seat is an inch too low at maximum height, so I've swapped it for a taller one. I'll see how that goes but sadly I may now need a replacement office chair... -<