Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Which Way Do YOU Tilt?...

.... your Overlocker (Serger) that is!

I've read in a few blogs, and in books that it's popular for sewists to tilt their sewing machines and overlockers. Basically instead of the flat-bed of your machine being parallel to the table-top surface that it is resting on; you instead raise the back of the machine higher than the front. Thus the bed surface is tilted towards you as you sit at your machine. Supposedly, this is a more ergonomic way to sew - you do not end up leaning forward as much as when the machine is not tilted. So, it should reduce aches and pains on both your neck, back, wrists and hands, and make for a more comfortable sewing experience. Another bonus is that you should have a wider and improved field of view resulting in easier and more accurate stitching.

Threads Issue 150, Page 41 - Ergonomic Sewing (Sept 2010)

I believe that tilt tables for sewing machines are very popular in the quilting and patchwork world - where a long time can be spent sat stationary in position at your machine stitching together large swathes of fabric.

Commercially sold tilt-tables (e.g.: like , this one) tend to include an lip at the front-edge (the one nearest to your body), this prevents any chance of the machine from sliding down and off (we don't want any expensive accidents or broken toes - eekk!). However many models cost anywhere from $40 USD/£25.50 GBP, to around $70/£44.50 for this one (same model is about £50 - $78.30 in the UK here) and this one, or even nearly $100/£63.80 for this one.

Now, I don't know about you - but I ain't paying those kind of prices - "No Sir!".

So, some DIY solutions I've heard of are as follows:-
A pair of door stops! Rubber ones are best - so they grip to the machine and to the table surface slightly.
   Pros: Cheap and easy to get hold of (Pound-Shop / Dollar Store?)
   Cons: Could slip out from under the machine if nudged / knocked, nothing to stop the machine sliding off of them.

Threads Magazine Issue 118, Page 14 - Tip - Door Stops (May 2005)  02, Door Stops - Serger, Overlocker Tilting

A long computer keyboard wrist-pad rest (as per this tip from Threads Magazine)
   Pros: Same as above.
   Cons: Same as above, plus - might perhaps be a bit squishy / bouncy under a heavier weight machine.

Threads Issue 115, Page 12 - Wrist rest 
pad (Nov 2004)
An office binder / folder (as per Tip #30 from the book: 1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts and Tips)
   Pros: Same as above.
   Cons: Nothing to stop the machine sliding off of the file / binder.

Pattern Review Book - Tip No. 30  03, Binder or Folder - Serger, Overlocker Tilt Table

This Quilter bought a wooden tilt table for her sewing machine. Another lady made one using a pair of small, and a pair of large castors / wheels underneath a wooden base.

But, I've come up with another solution! And it'll only cost you £3.50 (or $3.99 in the US) plus a trip to your local IKEA...

FAIR WARNING! I think this will only reasonably work for overlockers / sergers which seem to be much lighter in weight than "normal" sewing machines. So, a vintage cast metal machine would in all likelihood bend - if not break the plastic!!

Overlocker Tilt Table from Laptop Stand

If you like this tip you can Pin-It here on Pinterest :) !

My cheapo solution is the IKEA - BRÄDA Laptop support (comes in Black or Green plastic). (Article Number: 601.501.76).

Size:    Width 16½" (42cm)
            Depth 12¼" (31cm)
            Height 3½" (9cm)

There's a rubber strip at the back horizontal-edge that prevents the support from sliding around. And, a retaining edge keeps things in place (at the lower front-edge).

If you were worried about it being to wide - you can always saw it down narrower!

Now I need to go to IKEA and buy another one - I borrowed the one above from my laptop LOL!


  1. What a great set of ideas! I've never tried tilting my machine, but I think I'll have to give it a go. Thanks for sharing all these tips - really helpful!

  2. Now I'm curious to try tilting my machines... although I move them around so much, I don't know how practical it will be. I have a fan-base for my laptop with a similar tilted shape, it's very sturdy and could take the weight of any of my sewing machines, I'm sure (except that I need the fans for my poor laptop or it overheats on me.) I like the binder idea, too. I'm pretty sure we have several old binders kicking around...

    1. Do try it! Borrow one of the kids binders from school - then when they forget their homework inside it they can say their Mum stole it for her sewing stuff LOL ;-) !

  3. Thanks for sharing these great ideas! Might try tilting today and see if it helps.

  4. I'll try tilting when I come back from holidays. It sounds interesting. I always lean forward alot when sewing.

    1. Dibs I might be popping to IKEA in the next 2 weeks sometime so. If you want of to pick you one of the laptop stands up I can easily do so - just drop me a text hun!

  5. Thanks ladies :-) ! It seemed such co easy and cheap tip to try that I had to share it! Especially as it might actually make using your machines more comfy - so what's not to luv ;-) eh ?!

  6. Ooh what an interesting suggestion! Makes a lot of sense. I'm gonna try!!

  7. I've never heard of this. Will have to try it out! :)

  8. Hi Claire! I was Googling tilt'ables and your post came up. Your tip has probably saved me enough to cover my next chiropractor appointment - and will make her very happy that i am addressing my bad sewing posture (which she thinks may be the cause of my current knee problem. Thanks :)


Hi there! If you would like to be notified by email when I (or anyone else) replies to your comment please click the 'Subscribe by email' link under this comment box.