Monday, September 8, 2014

Ergonomics in the Spare Room and Workspace

This is a typical picture of my "not-so-neat" sewing space.

Ergonomics. How many times have we heard this? Does it go in one ear and out the other, or can we use this to our advantage while sewing and quilting?

Web MD says this: 

Ergonomics (say "er-guh-NOM-iks") is the study of the kind of work you do, the environment you work in, and the tools you use to do your job. The goal of office ergonomics is to set up your office work space so that it fits you and the job you are doing.

For some of us, this is our office. For others of us who are hobbyists, we spend enough time here it should be called our office, too. How many of us have aches and pains after an intense sewing or cutting session, and then pay for it the next few days? Thinking ergonomically may help prevent and/or reduce repetitive strain injuries.

If you have a dedicated work space, it's easier to modify it ergonomically. There are a handful of easy things you can do in just a few minutes to start. Let's use my space today.

Start with table height and lighting. I'm 5'6", and get it in my shoulder blade and up my neck if I have to continually lean over. I block my tables up on bed risers. They're available on Amazon from 2-12". I use varying heights depending on what I use the work surface for. Here is my cutting table. I have 8" risers here to significantly raise it. This brings it up to 38", and that works well for me.

I have adjustable track lighting that I love to use for task lighting. I also have cans lights in the ceiling with energy efficient bulbs in a warm spectrum. LED's would be more efficient, but I hate what it does to wall colors and fabrics. We put a few in to try, and went right back to these.

Below is my pressing table. Bed riser won't work on slanted table legs, but these are from Ikea--I love, love Ikea, and they are adjustable, my friend. Buy adjustable legs whenever you have the option. This table was a college desk for several of my kids, and was left for me when they finished. It stands around 36".

I also have track lighting here, and a portable lamp I move around.

My sewing table is also on rolling, adjustable legs. Ikea again. You need to have the table upside down to easily adjust the height, but I use the rollers to help set it up to machine quilt. I move in additional tables to the left and in front of it to support the quilt body. That helps manage extra weight and stress on my arms. My chair is also adjustable, and I like the arm rests to occasionally rest my arms.

I have can lights above, a lamp on my table, and an Ott light to the side with a goose neck on it. I do use the Ott light for scrutinizing colors if I need to. Perhaps purple walls aren't the best choice for a sewing room, but this was a play space and toy room until a few short years ago. 

The other thing I've got going here is a work triangle. I work much more efficiently now than when things were spread too far apart. I still have to get up and move, but I have less risk of tripping over other obstacles.

Think about your space, and how you can make it work for you. I've shared my glorified mess here today, and would love to hear what tricks you use. Please leave me a comment.

The Doxies and I can't wait to hear from you.


Jasmine said...

Really interesting. I didn't knoe this about ergonomics. I love all your lighting.

Debra said...

Your lighting looks great. Can never have enough task lighting. And you are right, the height of work tables and cutting tables is crucial. I am 5'9"... so I feel the pain if I have to bend too much to work. Your space looks great.. and I like the dramatic wall color.

Val's Quilting Studio said...

I see what you mean about all the lighting. Also like the bed riser idea. I know you are busy getting books moved out and considering painting the wall...but I kinda like this color!

MegsAnn said...

Great tips! I'm a sloucher and definitely should keep table heights in mind as I set up my new studio. Just the act of having everything at the right height will help straighten me out! I've also considered getting a ball to sit on while I'm at the computer. It probably wouldn't be a good idea while I'm operating the foot pedal for my sewing machine though. That's a good way to end up on the floor! :)

Dogwood Lane Rambles said...

About those crooked table legs - you can raise them using PVC pipes cut to length - just a thought. Being short I don't have quite the same issue so my husband routed out a slot in 2X6 for my table legs and it raised them just the right amount.