Well, this is a new one on me. It’s a blog post about how to stay fit while sewing. You see, sewing and fitness aren’t exactly BFFs, right? I mean the Olympic Committee is yet to include anatomical embroidery alongside speed skating and water polo. The fact is, though, that the longer I sew the more I need to stay fit while doing it. It’s not because French seams are an endurance sport but because stitching for eight hours a day has done to my body what Brexit has done to European relations.
Look, for the last 18 months I’ve had back-to-back orders. In terms of my confidence, skills and profit margins this makes me hop about with merriment. In terms of my body, though, it’s done things to my lower back that I thought were unimaginable outside of a Soviet Gulag. That’s because if I haven’t been crouched over my sewing machine, I’ve been crouched over my cutting table and ironing board. It means that by the time I stumble from my sewing shed I look less like a functioning human and more like one of those aliens from Quatermass and the Pit (and how much does THAT age me?).
All of this hit me like Miley on a wrecking ball when I was on hols in Spain in May. That’s because while I could, just about, get onto a sunbed I as sure as shit could not get off it. Worse, whenever I stood up from a seat it would take me a full minute to walk without careening into the road/ pool. I realised that if I felt like this at the age of 47 then my entire 80s would be a spinal shitshow.
Anyway it lit a fire under my increasingly crippled arse and while I haven’t taken up marathon running or vaginal steaming, Gwynnie stylee, I have found a way to make this 47 year old feel like a, well, 47 year old again. And seeing as how I used to feel like I was 372, that’s a good thing. So here’s how I now stay fit while sewing…
The chair cushion
It’s a small thing (literally and metaphorically) but it’s saved my ageing bacon while at the sewing machine. I found that I was rounding out my lower back so much when running up seams that my chin was almost resting on my tits. So I picked up this cushion. It has a strap to keep it in position and I nestle it in the arch in the lower part of my spine. It forces my back to straighten and it means that when I rise from my chair I’m not bent at exactly half my height.
The standing table
Ok, so this wasn’t cheap but it demonstrates how badly I needed to stay fit while sewing. It moves up and down with a little light turning from a crank handle. It cost £190 from Ikea (a bargain compared to the motorised £500 version) and it has transformed life in the sewing shed. On days when I have to do a shit load of embroidery I lower it to the height of an ordinary table, otherwise it is permanently high enough for my forearms to rest on it at right angles. It means I stand up for 80% of my sewing work and it stops me becoming so stiff that you could shag a giraffe with me.
The uncool slippers
Look, I work from my own shed which means I spend my days in slippers. I learned quickly though that the best ones are what I call my ‘old woman’ slippers, mainly because everyone in my mum-in-law’s care home had a pair. Ok, they’re dull but the soles are supportive which means it’s easy to stand up at my cranked-up table. If you don’t believe me, I’ve tried this standing-up-to-work malarchy in ordinary flats and I last approximately 15 minutes. This even outweighs the fact that Conjugal Kraken takes the piss out of them on a daily basis.
The daily yoga
If you haven’t yet heard of Yoga with Adriene WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING WITH YOUR LIFE? And if you have heard of her… Oh my days! Isn’t she the coolest? She has actually managed to rebuild my body through the medium of downward dog alone. When I started my daily yoga practices I was that incapable that I couldn’t get up off the floor afterwards. I’d have to crawl to a surface to pull myself up. Now, though? I’m not just touching my toes, I’m standing on the second knuckles of my fingers. In fact I’m getting into positions which I swear are illegal. Even better, I no longer ache, I can get up without making that middle-aged groaning sound and I seem to have temporarily halted the physical law of entropy.
The lack of Wifi
Ok, so this has happened by luck rather than judgement but I’ll take it. You see, my shed is a Wifi-free zone. Technically it is a mahoosive pain in the arse but it helps me stay fit while sewing by making me walk into the house twice an hour, every hour. Every time I need to check an order or email, update social media or upload images, I have to walk the 15 metres from my shed to my house-bound laptop to do it. And Ok, this isn’t going to turn me into a 7 stone waif but it gives me a chance to stretch and it alerts me to the fact that I need a bit of a wiggle. Talking of which…
I can’t work without the radio on and these days it’s because anything Dua Lipa-based makes me drop my seam ripper to give it large in my shed. My postie can attest to how horrifying it is to catch me bigging it up with Calvin Harris when I should be finishing a bag handle but it’s what keeps me frisky. And yeah, ever so slightly out of puff. One tip though. Don’t do this with a hot iron in your hand, like I did last Friday. I threw some cracking shapes but one of them is now a scorch mark on the woodwork. You have been warned…
So has your art or craft impacted on your body? What do you do to counter it?