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Thread: Assistive Tools/Gadgets For Impaired Quilters?

  1. #1
    Ginakra's Avatar
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    Hi all, I have fibromyalgia (the diagnosis so far), and I get terrible pain in my arms, chest, and back when I do anything that requires strength or control. I used to be an avid knitter/crocheter, but pushing the needles together hurts too much now, and the repetitive motion of the craft makes pain flare-up..SO I've decided to try hand-quilting. I've been on the lookout for tools/gadgets that will make quilting easier for me. I've seen:

    - Simpliciy Electric Rotary Cutter Machine, which cuts fabric strips for you

    - Accuquilt Go

    - Computerized Longarm Machines (totally drool worthy-how cheap can I get one of these anyway? $7000?)

    What else is out there? Do you have pain, arthritis, physical limitations and what tools/cutting systems, and machines have you found that help you with quilt crafting? I can use all the help I can get! :)

    Thank you!
    Gina

  2. #2
    Super Member CajunQuilter2's Avatar
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    Gina, You might look into the Martelli Rotary cutters, they are really good for people with arthritis.

  3. #3
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    I have heard that the Simplicity rotary cutter does not cut very accurately; I would skip it. However, many people with arthritis and other problems really like the Go, and you can cut strips with it also. One woman posted that she pre-cuts the fabric with an electric scissors for the Go. Electric scissors do not cut accurately, but would be great for this purpose.

    Hand quilting requires repetitive action. If you decide to take this up, you should probably investigate some of the newer methods that keep the wrist in a neutral position. The Thimble Lady from Australia has a method like this:
    http://www.thimblelady.com.au/

  4. #4
    Super Member sahm4605's Avatar
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    Well I haven't been diagnosed or anything, but I will end up with fibromyalgia too. Everyone on my maternal side has it. And I am already showing some of the signs. I just use lots of Advil and Tylenol. I totally understand the pain though. I think that your only problem will be pinning and sitting at a machine to sew and quilt things. there is lots of repetition there. Well at least for me. What I do when I start to get sore and hurting is just to get up and move. I had to stop cutting fabric after 40 min of being hunched over my ironing board cutting diamond shapes. Just keep at it and hopefully you will be able to find some peace from the pain.
    My mom has a water bead and it really really helps her. My dad bought a regular bed for them a few years ago and my mom had a horrible time in the mornings and all day. so this Christmas my dad got another water bed. it has made a world of difference for my mom. If you don't have one you might want to think about that. especially getting one with a heater in it. to help relax the muscles. good luck. hope you love quilting as much as you loved knitting and crocheting.

  5. #5
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    I am sorry you are in pain and wish you the best. I don't have fibromyalgia but using my arms waist length with my head bent kills my neck and shoulders. I have my cutting table and my ironing board just above waist length and it has made a world of difference for me.
    Good luck to you. Wishing the best for you.

  6. #6
    Super Member virtualbernie's Avatar
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    I have the Simplicity electric rotary cutter and I was never able to get a straight cut on it and it really didn't cut my fabric either, it wouldn't even cut paper for me no matter how much I adjusted it. As far as the Go is concerned, you do need a little muscle to roll the dies through. That Martelli cutter seems to be a good alternative.

  7. #7
    Power Poster amma's Avatar
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    You may find that hand quilting will be as hard on your hands as knitting and crocheting and other handwork. I had to quit doing these things too, due to fibro.
    I can quilt using a sewing machine. I rotate between cutting, pressing, pinning and sewing. I have everything laid out so that I can do some of each for a while. Switching back and forth, and getting up and moving around seem to help my hands, neck and back.

    Seam rippers and other tools with bigger handles help, as well as stocking up on rotary cutting blades, the sharper they are, the less pressure needed to cut. Finding the suction cup handles for your rulers may help too. It may take the strain off of your wrists/arms. Putting the Invisigrip on the underside of the rulers also helps hold them in place, and puts less strain on arms/wrists/hands.

    Make sure your cutting surface, sewing machine, ironing boards, etc... are the proper height for you.
    Try to do some warm up exercises before you start, it really does help the muscles :wink:

  8. #8
    Super Member sahm4605's Avatar
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    another thought. don't know if you have heating pads to help ease the muscles but a fun project that I have done is make rice bags. you can use beans or peas too. anything that holds heat well and wont rot. you just make a simple bag. PM me if you want help making one. there are probably others that can help with this too. I have two. use dot have three but after my dd was born left the small one at the hospital by accident. made some for my grandma and my parents too. you can even make them scented too. hope this helps. Sitting here typing with mine across my neck and shoulders. it helps.

  9. #9
    Super Member purplemem's Avatar
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    I have severe fibro and a lot of other impairment problems.
    For fibro pain, I sleep on a heated mattress pad, summer and winter. It really does make a big difference. My sewing table and cutting tables are elevated for less strain on my shoulders. I hand quilt and use a gadget I got at Tractor Supply for pulling my needle through the fabric layers. It is a pair of curved needle nose pliers with a spring action handle. I don't use a hoop, but put 5 or 6 stitches on the needle and then pull with this. It was only $6. a Godsend. I bought a Brother XR9000 sewing machine, has a push button start and stop, and a needle up/down. Now I don't have to sit in one spot, don't need my legs or knees, and that helps with strain. The machine was $200.

  10. #10
    Super Member Tink's Mom's Avatar
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    I also have severe Fibromyalgia...I don't have any of the items that you have listed. Don't have the extra money for them, since I had to quit working due to the Fibro.
    All I can say is don't give in to it....keep doing as much as you can, every day...even on the bad days, do something...if you don't use it, you will lose it, according to my Dr.
    I do have the Martelli rotary cutter, and I love it.....

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