Ergonomics HOME and HOBBY TIPS


Listing of information provided in this section, top to bottom:

Work Environment Setup - Initial step by step review for all environments

Lifting Tips

Quilting and Sewing Tips - and Tools!

Kitchen Tips - and Tools!

Knitting and Crochet Tips

Gardening Tips - and Tools!


An Ergonomic Work Environment setup is key! 


Many tips for arranging your work environment can also be applied to home activities and hobbies.

Here are a few tips to consider:


  • Arrange work area so that frequently used items are within easy reach
  • All materials and tools are in front of you to reduce twisting 
  • Position your work surface so that you are in neutral posture and work surface is:

       - Above elbow height for fine visual detail tasks

       - Below elbow height for task requiring downward forces and heavy effort

  • Work is tilted to reduce need to bend the back or head forward
  • Vary your position when holding an object for a long time
  • Alternate right and left hands when performing tasks
  • A few minutes each hour, give your hands a break by resting or alternating activity
  • Lift objects with your whole hand or, better yet, with both hands. (Gripping or lifting with the thumb and index finger puts stress on your wrist.)


Lifting Tips to incorporate into everyday activities and hobbies:

  • Test the load - know how heavy something is before you lift it
    1. ask for help, or
    2. lighten the load and make several smaller and lighter lifts
  • Plan your lift to avoid carrying, repeated bending, reaching, and twisting
    1. Stand close to the object you’re lifting, with your feet at least shoulder width apart creating a solid base of support
    2. Bend your knees, not your back
    3. Hold lifted object close to your body to minimize load on your back
    4. If you need to turn while lifting, move your feet rather than twisting at your waist
  • Alternate lifting tasks to give your muscles a chance to rest 

There are many different lifting aids to use whether you are gardening, loading/un-loading craft supplies, etc.  Be sure to think about the task you will be doing and ask to have lifting aid demonstrated for you to see if this will meet your needs.



Quilting and Sewing Tips:


Utilization of tips assist with your comfort so that you can relax and enjoy your quilting and sewing projects by eliminating awkward postures like bending and reaching to handle material, repetition like working on the same task over and over, or force such as pulling a quilt while machine quilting, or pushing a needle through multiple layers of fabric.

  • Review the above Work Environment Setup before you begin your project.  AND take time to organize your sewing tools-scissors, cutter, bobbins, rulers, thread- organized and handy, within easy reach or far enough away that you need to take a quick stretch break to reach.  AVOID stretching and reaching/bending!
  • Hold a white plastic spoon or piece of white paper, behind the needle of your sewing machine will allow you to quickly spot the eye of the needle.
  • Place a table or desk close behind your sewing machine if you a machine piecing a bed-size quilt top and this will allow a "resting" space for quilt as you sew, you will use less hand stress to hold the quilt while sewing.
  • Use a stenographer's "rubber finger" on your index finger and you will be able to rapidly grasp and pull your needle through thick batting and seams, avoiding force and awkward hand postures.
  • Keep your thread from tangling when you are hand piecing, applique or doing embroidery by running the thread through beeswax before starting to stitch avoiding awkward hand and neck posture to untangle and having more time for sewing.

I recently presented at Maine Quilts, 2010 on ergonomics. If you would like a copy of presentation or checklist, contact me :  (425) 248-8490, or



I had read about Alex Anderson's 4-in-1 Essential Sewing Tool for quilting, applique, papercrafts, dollmaking".  The information states, "4 Must-Have Quilting and Crafting Tools in One"  It is a smooth, wooden tool that supports ergonomics in both design and uses:

  1. The flat-ended presser cap for finger pressing, folding, burnishing supports neutral wrist posture and provides force instead of having to use hand force to press fabric
  2. The super-sharp seam ripper for "fast "unsewing" limits awkward hand posture and finger force by quickly completing task
  3. The pointed wood end cap for "turning bias tubes, creating perfect corners and stuffing doll parts" provides a large rounded base for ease of function and limits awkward hand postures
  4. The extra-long stiletto "protects fingers while pressing and machine piercing" with advantage to also support neutral, relaxed hand posture and limit hand force required to hold and position.


Kitchen Tips:


Many of the ergo tips that apply to work areas can be used in the kitchen also:

  • Location where you prepare food should be central to tools and ingredients
  • Move cutting board close to you when chopping to avoid awkward/extended reach
  • Use powered appliances such as blender or food chopper to reduce repetitive and forceful motions
  • Ingredients should be easy to reach, with or without a sturdy step stool
  • Heavy items, like a mixer or blender, should be easily accessible and stored near waist height
  • Have the right tools for the job. Use tools with round and padded handles
  • Keep knives sharpened to limit repetitive cutting and force
  • When viewing recipes, raise recipe card to eye level (check out the SAVVY Save) or use a stand to raise cookbook for easier and more comfortable viewing.


Knitting/Crochet Tips:


When you are knitting or crocheting, if you use the same size needles or crochet hook, and the same size yarn all the time, you'll be stressing the same muscles and tendons.  Change projects needle, hook and yarn size to provide variation,  less stress, and repetition by alternating muscle and tendon use.