Sewing On a Mountain

August 9, 2010

No, I’m not talking about stitching at your cabin in the woods, but a way to make quilting easier :-). My definition of “sewing on a mountain” is when your machine is perched atop a desk or table. This way of quilting is bad for many reasons:

First – its too high, so you need to either raise your chair (which, if you’re vertically challenged, makes it difficult to reach the foot pedal) or just grin and bear it. Ergonomically this is hard on your body. The desired position when machine quilting, is to have the bed of the machine at elbow level so that when your arms are bent at a right angle your forearms are parallel with the work surface.

Second – the flat, usable portion of your machine is small. This makes it hard to piece and even more difficult to quilt.

Third – when working on a larger quilt you are constantly fighting the weight of the quilt as it falls off the machine bed. Plus, it’s easy to get safety pins hooked on the corners of the machine bed when machine quilting.

So, what to do?

Often I’m told that an extension table that fits around the machine is the answer. These do improve conditions when piecing, but many of the same problems persist when machine quilting a larger quilt because there is still an edge where the weight of the quilt drops off and pins can get caught.

A sewing cabinet or custom made table is the ideal option. If you don’t have one, I’m giving you permission to get one, and soon! I own a Tracey’s Table. Mike Spangler, the son of my dear friend Diane, makes them. He is located in Wisconsin, but he sells his cabinets and tables throughout the US. I highly recommend them. The quality is excellent and the price reasonable!

If a table is out of the question at this time, I have some rather clever suggestions to share (if I do say so myself), but I think I’ll save them for my Thursday post. Stay tuned :-)!


  1. Chris,
    I just spent last week at the Milwaukee Machine Quilter’s Show. I was dazzled by long arms and short arms alike. But alas, I came to your same conclusion. I need a big quilter’s table with lots of space when I need it. I love my Bernina and still feel it is the best thing for what I do, especially since it is paid for. I’m going to let it earn its keep by getting Tracey’s Quilter’s table. I forgot to order it today, but I won’t forget it tomorrow!

  2. Chris, you are so right, one does need a good sewing table. I have a Tracy’s table too, that I bought from Brad at Frank’s Sewing Center. I was lucky when I upgraded to a larger Janome machine and it still fit in the cabinet. If I could, I would replace the area to ‘store’ a machine with drawers. Meanwhile, I just make do. I love it! As well as your blog.

  3. Well, I have a tracy’s table too and love it..it has a flip up back, so when I am machine quilting it adds more work space….but a less expensive alternative is to get a portable(it has wheels for dragging it to classes) SewEzi table…..they are advertised in quilt magazines. I got mine at a show….the machine fits down in the table and while the work surface is not as big as my Tracy’s table, I can put it up against another table to increase the work area….perfect for classes or if you want to visit a friend and quilt together at her house!! Claire

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