A cautionary tale for all sewists

Back pain


Sewing friends, today I want to share with you a cautionary tale about what can happen after too much sewing.  I know what you’re thinking: is it even possible to sew too much?  Are you crazy, woman??  I wish I could sew ALL the time!

Yes, that’s what I thought too.  Until last weekend, that is.  John was out of town visiting family, so I had the entire weekend to myself.  Perfect for a sewing marathon, right?  Especially considering I was sinking my teeth into a juicy blazer project!  Well, after many, many hours hunched over the sewing machine, a few more hunched over the computer blogging, and a lifetime’s worth of poor posture, the universe decided it was about time that I was punished for all my hunching over.

MY BACK FROZE.  Now friends, I have never had the pleasure of giving birth and therefore don’t know the kind of pain that’s involved, but let me tell you, this was the WORST pain I’ve had in my life, on par with getting my wisdom teeth out.  OUCH.  I’ll spare you the agonizing details and simply say that I was fairly immobile for several days and watched way too many daytime tv talk shows to pass the time.

Needless to say, no sewing progress has been made this week.

Thankfully, I’m almost back to normal at this point thanks to lots of time off my feet, lots of painkillers, and a friendly chiropractor down the street.  A few lessons learned from this eye-opening experience:

  • Hunching over the sewing machine is not good for your back!  Sewists, beware.  Get a chair with lumbar support, take breaks, and stretch.
  • Hunching over the computer is not good for your back either.  Good posture is a must!  I’m sitting up nice and straight while typing this, and I tried to correct myself at work all day.
  • You don’t have to be a grandparent to get sciatica.  Also: YOU DO NOT WANT SCIATICA.  My leg is still twitching…
  • No one will hold the door open for you in public places, even when you’re hunched over, limping, and hobbling around on a cane.  Ask me how I know this.
  • Just like with sewing, there can be such a thing as too many paternity tests.  They all start to blend together after a while!

So, next time you find yourself at your sewing machine or writing up a long blog post, do yourself a favor and take 5 minutes to stretch out your lower back.  Your body will thank you for it.  : )

17 thoughts on “A cautionary tale for all sewists

  1. I threw out my neck & shoulder in January. I had to be helped out of bed & my daughter brushed my hair as I couldn’t lift my arms. The pain was horrendous but a walk in the park compared to giving birth to very large babies for my size LOL.
    I’d also suggest working on your core strength, having a strong stomach helps support your back 🙂


    • Thanks for the advice, Lizzy. This whole experience has made me want to start doing yoga again, ASAP. I don’t know why I ever stopped! Sorry to hear you had such a bad experience too. It’s amazing how many body movements rely on your neck and back.


  2. Ouch! I know I do get sore and stiff if in the shoulder area when I sit in the same position for too long so I try to alternate activities but it can be so hard to make yourself stop when a project is going really well.
    Glad you are feeling better!


    • Exactly! I was on such a roll with that blazer that stopping was not an option. Well, I certainly paid for that mistake! Great advice about alternating activities – I’ll have to do this from now on.


  3. Oh yes, I know this well. I suffer from lower back pain that gets heaps worse if I sew too much. I know what that pain feels like and (yes, I haven’t had kids either) but it was the worst for me too. I’m glad you’re feeling better now though and thanks for this post. It’s good to remember that no sewing gets done with a bad back!!


    • Yes, sad but true! My half-finished blazer has been staring at me all week. 😦 Sorry to hear you have lower back pain too – it’s really uncomfortable and can be super painful. We all have to remember to take good care of ourselves while cranking out our beautiful creations!


  4. Oh gosh, how right you are!!! I’ve learnt this lesson the hard way like you! So now, no more than one hour non stop sewing and then break!!! Hope your back will let you finish the blazer you are working on!!


    • Oh no, sorry to hear you’ve experienced this too! And yes, breaks while sewing are an absolute requirement now. I want to get back to my blazer, but I’m almost afraid to sit back down at my machine now. I’ll have to take it slowly and be brave, LOL.


  5. Oh POOR Carolyn!!! Speaking also as a past lower back sufferer, I reeeeeally understand that sickening, horrid pain you’ve gone through! (And I HAVE given birth but at least it doesn’t go on for weeks on end!!!) I’m disappointed to hear no one opened doors for you – you should have “bumped” them with your cane! 🙂 Get better quickly – that blazer awaits!


    • Hahaha!! Yes, I definitely should have used that cane to my advantage. 🙂 I was really surprised that no one held the door when I was clearly struggling with it. I always try to be polite and hold the door for other people, even non-injured ones, so it baffles me that other people can be so oblivious. Oh well!


  6. That sounds terrible! My back hurts when I sew too, and even more when I’m cutting out, but I usually try to stop when it starts hurting too much. A few weeks ago my back just seized up and I couldn’t move for about five minutes – it was pretty scary, so I can’t even imagine what it must have been like for you. Get better soon!


    • Oh no, sorry to hear that happened to you! It sounds exactly like that happened to me, only mine lasted a few days. UGH. Cutting is really hard on my back too, since I find myself leaning over the table at a 90 degree angle. What’s the solution though? How do you cut out fabric without leaning over??


    • Oh my gosh that sounds terrible! Between both of you guys’ cautionary tales, I’m absolutely weary about it now! It can be so easy to get into a sewing marathon and forget about everything- getting up, eating, stretching, whatever! Recently I’ve started setting a timer every couple hours just to get up and move– now I think I should be setting it more frequently!


      • Oh, that’s a great idea! I’m making a mental note to start setting a timer too. What do you use – a kitchen timer? It really is amazing how the time flies when you’re at the machine!


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