String Challenge and More

Over the last two weeks I’ve been finishing up quilt tops….I love getting the tops finished.  The thing I haven’t followed through with is cleaning the up the quilt top leftovers.

My sewing room for the most part, needed more of the surface tops and floor cleaning.  Deep, it’s still all good.

I’ve been so frustrated with the mess and finally last week I said enough was enough…I started working on the mess.


In the middle of the mess I got an idea.  I have a table that I’ve kept two sewing machines on..it’s small and regular table height.  I’ve started having some problems with my shoulder while sewing.  I can feel that bad shoulder getting fatigued if I sit for very long.

The fatigue is happening more often and more quickly.  It’s made me a little sad.  I would be crazy if I can’t sew like I have, so I put my thinking cap on.  I’m not letting this shoulder beat me.

This is what I came up with.  I sew with my white machine most of the time.  I ended up putting it on a small pop up table that’s really sturdy.  I pulled the sewing chair over which is slightly higher than a regular chair.  This is how it looks now….
It’s not pretty but it’s VERY functional and most importantly, my shoulder hasn’t been hurting when I sew.  You can see that the bed of my sewing machine is not the height of a regular table.  It’s like sewing at a cabinet that a machine drops into.  I really like it and am so happy that this is working.  It’s not a pretty affair with matching cabinets and the like but I am VERY happy with it…most important…that shoulder is happy.  If you have an arm or shoulder issue, I HIGHLY recommend finding a way to bring down the height of the table you are sewing at….worst case scenario, get a wooden table to sew on and cut the legs to a smaller height.

The cleaning and reorganizing took a lot of time so not as much sewing got done….More of these were finished though.  They are like potato chips to me.  I can’t do only one!!

For the tutorial on these blocks follow this link.

I pulled out my next String Challenge project….Daylilies.  For those wondering this is a Bonnie Hunter pattern from her book String Fling.

I’ve got everything in place and started on them.  They have inset seams so it’s slower going.


Now that my set up in the sewing room is like this, I am utilizing the a deeper space which is what I need for this project.  I keep referencing the photos to make sure I orient the pieces correctly.

I need all the help I can to manage those inset seams.


I am typically not big on ironing but for these, ironing is my friend.  If there is some interest I’ll do a little tutorial on how I’m managing these.  Pressing as well as starting and stopping at the correct places makes all the difference in success.  It’s really not hard.  I simply have to slow down and think more than I usually do.

I have to admit to really liking the challenge in working outside of my box on this project.

I’m loving these in batiks.

Find me back here next week. I’m hoping to have more of these blocks finished.

17 thoughts on “String Challenge and More

  1. Glenda Hollander

    Yes please do a tutorial on the Day lilies. I’m a beginner and would like to learn how.

  2. Wanda

    I consider myself a pretty good piecer, I will unsew and resew until those triangle points are perfect, if I have to-until it comes to Y-seams! I have been known to needle turn applique them in place. Yes-give me some pointers!

  3. Ana Sweet

    My husband had horrible arm issues at work (computer use). The specialist said his forearms from elbow to wrist should be horizontal to the floor when working on a computer (same thing as sewing machine). I use the same rule for sewing machines. Got a SewEzi table to lower the machine and the problems I was having resolved. A plus is that I can take the table with me when going to retreats.

    Every time I use my machine on the regular tables, my shoulder and elbow issues reappear. I also use an adjustable office chair so my back is supported and it does not press hard on the back of my legs.

    So drop your shoulders, get in a good chair, hold your arms out at the right level and make sure your machine is in the right place.

  4. Jackie Goosen

    I have several tables set up around me as well. Not pretty…but very functional!

  5. Ellen

    My sewing chair is a 20″ high nicely padded/upholstered bar stool-no back or armrests. I’ve never had discomfort.

    Your sewing space looks great!

  6. Tina in NJ

    Over 15 years ago, I took a class on Lemoyne Stars and Y seams at an LQS that has since gone out of business. The main tip I got was to put 1/4-inch masking tape, just a tiny strip, on your thumb nail. Use that 1/3 inch to place your pin at just the right spot and sew just to the pin. That way, you won’t sew into the seam allowances. When my guild did a friendship block exchange, I chose a block that was all Y seams (Whirling Star), and made 28 blocks over a year and a half. No problem. (Oh, and you have to back tack Y seams, since you don’t really cross them with other seams.)

  7. Colleen

    I understand about pain. I have a height issue, wrist and joint issues. I also have a wide desk chair with arms. I can raise it up and use pillows. I have low stools under each sewing machine table to prop feet on too.

  8. Susan

    Oooh, is that a Singer 301 on that higher table?? My favorite to piece on❤️♥️❤️♥️

  9. Cindy F

    I’m starting to have shoulder issues since I’ve been temporarily using a portable table to sew my On Ringo Lake. My puppy won’t go down the stairs to the basement where my sewing room is so I brought stuff upstairs. Guess I need to rethink what surface I’m using for my sewing machine as I think it will be awhile until he will use the stairs. Thanks for the suggestions!

  10. Bernadette

    I agree with Ana about having an office chair to sew with. You move some while sewing and the chair moves with you. With a solid chair that doesn’t happen and the body has to compensate. You can adjust to the correct height for you, and not have to push and pull the chair to get up or sew. My kids first brought one of these chairs from college one spring, and I never used a regular chair since. Sometimes you can find them at thrift stores.

  11. Nell

    I have also found putting a machine on my proper height cutting table and standing to sew has been helpful. I love your Daylilies in Batiks. Finished a binding yesterday and one this morning. Snow day means sew day here!

  12. Kathy

    I haven’t read the comments completely, but a few years ago I read an article about ergonomics and sewing. You can Google the info. Anyway one of the things it mentions is that your legs -knees to hips- should be flat and parallel to the floor. Your wrists and elbows should also be parallel to the floor so you may need to raise or lower the bed of your sewing machine by raising or lowering your table that holds the machine. For me, I have an old wooden kitchen table that we trimmed a few inches off the legs to get the right height for me. I also have an adjustable office chair that I can raise and lower as needed. By lowering my table I don’t hunch my shoulders or back to be able to sew. Just my 2 cents on the subject!

  13. Susan the Farm Quilter

    Good idea on lowering the table to accommodate your shoulder’s needs. Since I don’t have that option, I add pillows to my chair to lift me up! I have had surgery on both of my shoulders and it really makes a difference. Now the problem is keeping my eyes close enough so I can see what I am sewing and my arms in the neutral position as much as possible.

  14. Maureen

    Jo, your Daylilies blocks are beautiful. Looking forward to seeing the finished quilt!

  15. Colleen

    I am behind on reading your blog I’d love any tips you have for those pesky “y” seams and so sorry you are having sewing pains. I get them all too often.
    My way to reduce pain is to get up often, drink fluids, ( helps me get up to use the potty) I also use a seat that adjusts in one area it is a “tool” type padded stool that goes up and down in my sewing room it’s an office type no arms that has a leaver to bring it up and down.

    I know some say they sew standing but that would kill me for sure how on earth does one push the foot pedal properly while balancing on one leg and use the arms and hands to guide and pull pins as needed
    I would fall for sure.
    Those who can do that must have great core muscles and balance

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *