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Thread: Hand quilting problems

  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Anybody else out there get sore hands from quilting? I guess I am gripping the needle too much. I bought an elastic glove to help but I can only quilt for a short period of time! I think it's the old carpal tunnel thing. Any suggestions? I bought braces at the pharmacy to wear at night that help.

  2. #2
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    you will have to find alternative hand positions possibly. there are some quilters out there who learned to change. professional ones too.
    good luck. perhaps someone here knows a site you can look at. I know there is one somewhere, maybe about a book with this info in it.

  3. #3
    Super Member Bill'sBonBon's Avatar
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    I also have carpal Tunnel. Unless you get the surgery to correct it,the brace and meds like ibuprophen are all I have found to help at all. If I am going to do something that I know will make my carpal Tunnel act up I take 3 ibuprophen at that time. Then 3 before I go to bed. This is what helps me. I just hate to be laid up like I will be if I opt for the Surgery. My Right hand is the one that is really bad. My left not so much. My carear of Dog Grooming for so many years, holding the heavy clippers in the same position is what happened to me. Good luck if you find something that is more helpful than what I am doing please post.
    BillsBonBon

  4. #4
    Power Poster Ninnie's Avatar
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    maybe you are to tight. Relaxing will help, when I haven't hand quilted for awhile, my hands do that, and I have to stop and relax them. Also, try changing the way you sit. maybe in a chair with arms where you can rest your arms on. Are you lap quilting or in a floor frame? If in a floor frame you may need to raise or lower it.


    Ninnie

  5. #5
    Super Member Shemjo's Avatar
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    I have carpal tunnel also, but I LOVE to hand quilt. I do most of my quilting on a floor frame, so I HAVE to change my position and move around to be able to get to where I want to stitch. I quilt for 6 hours twice a week with a break for lunch. I am left handed, and quilt in many directions. I use a rolling chair that I can adjust up or down.
    Methinks that you have tried to overdo it and quilt for long periods too quickly. You need to work in to this like all exercise! Relax. Take a break. It is worth it! :lol:
    BTW, my carpal tunnel only bothers when I HAVEN'T quilted for a while! :?

  6. #6
    Senior Member motomom's Avatar
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    I sometimes have this problem, mostly when trying to pull the needle after I have loaded way too many stitches on it. You might try taking fewer stitches on the needle, or you can do what I did. I bought some of those little rubbery finger grips to help this.

    I have also found that the old needles that I had in my mom's sewing kit to be far "slicker" than the new ones I bought. The new ones had some sort of plating or coating that flaked off, no matter how much I paid for them. It was very frustrating, and made the needle harder to pull through the fabric.

    Once I switched to my mom's old needles, the problem was resolved.

    Can anyone recommend a good brand of hand needles?

  7. #7
    Super Member Prism99's Avatar
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    I was diagnosed with severe carpal tunnel but managed to avoid surgery by wearing the braces as much as possible and by taking a high dosage of citrus bioflavanoid capsules daily. I wore the braces during the day as well as at night. My carpal tunnel came from bad ergonomics while typing a lot on the computer, so I also had my husband change my computer setup. I did all of my typing with the braces on.

    Incidentally, I found the $20 braces at Walmart to be *much* better than the ones the doctor's office gave me!

    The specialist I saw told me I'd be back for the surgery, but I proved him wrong. It took about a year, but I finally stopped having any kind of a problem. For the following year or two, any time I suspected it might be coming back I wore the braces to bed at night again. Haven't needed the braces for a year now.

    I figured that carpal tunnel is basically an inflammation so, if I could reduce the inflammation and keep it reduced long enough, it should eventually go away. I'm sure I was lucky in that I didn't wait so long that scarring had set in from the inflammation.

    You might want to quit hand quilting for a year to ensure you don't aggravate the inflammation. I was able to keep typing (although I cut the amount of typing I did in half!) because the braces kept my wrists in a neutral position; I don't see any way to hand quilt with braces on, though.

    My dental higienist got carpal tunnel from a marathon wallpaper scraping stint and had to quit working because of it. She also took bioflavanoids and about 3 years later was symptom-free and able to go back to work. I do think it's important to stop doing the activity that brought on the carpal tunnel, if at all possible.

  8. #8
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    Thanks to all for your replies. Part of the problem for me is that I am doing a lot right now that involves my wrist: a project on the computer, doing a lot of yard work and getting the flowerbeds ready for mulch AND quilting. It is probably too much stress on the that area. I think I will put the quilt away for awhile and give my wrist a break. I'll soon be done with the gardens and then I can get back to quilting.

  9. #9
    Super Member mpspeedy's Avatar
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    I have been handquilting for about 40 years. I long ago trained myself to use both hands. Since I touch type and play the piano it was not as hard since both actions use both hands equally.
    I find I only do it when I am using a stationary quilting frame. If I am using a small handheld hoop I just turn the hoop around rather than use the opposite hand. I have more problems with the computer now than quilting. Using the mouse can lead to a very aching right arm. I have both carpal tunnel in both hands and an autoimmune disease that makes my muscles in general weak. Since I find hand quilting relaxing it is almost therapy for me. My hands bother me the most when I have used the rotory cutter or iron. I have the new Martini ergonomic cutter. It does help. I tend to do a lot of tearing of my fabrics as it assures a straight line but that makes my upper arms ache. I also hate the strings that result.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Kara's Avatar
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    A longer quilting needle and keeping your fingers straighter may help, so you don't have the "quilter's claw" position. I do this and don't experience as much hand fatigue as I used to. I also keep the quilt in hoop loose instead of tight, and fold the over the point of the needle and don't rock the needle so much. It may help.

    Good luck!!

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