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Thread: Ideas: To Help Quilter's With Arthritis,Muscle,Nerve,et. Disorders?

  1. #1
    Super Member JuneBillie's Avatar
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    Ideas: To Help Quilter's With Arthritis,Muscle,Nerve,et. Disorders?

    While reading on another thread of things quilter's found useful, I noticed there are others like myself that love quilting, but who deal with the challenges of arthritis in there hands or maybe nerve damage, vision, etc.

    I have lupus, sjogren's, fibromyalgia, etc. which all contribute to having visions problems, muscle pain, back pain, no energy, currently possibly carpal tunnel in my hand, and even memory issues. lol.....I won't bore you with too much.

    I thought it would be a welcomed thread to start with different ideas to share with each other that is helpful to quilters who have these issues, but love their craft.

    I will start it off with a few things I do, but most of you probably already do them.

    - I print out the instructions for my patterns I find free online in a size text that I can see comfortably.
    - I keep sticky notes to jot down things I don't want to forget, such as a blog I am interested in, or any mention even on a tv sewing show, I may be watching that gives an address to a site for quilters.
    - I have to take lots of breaks when working on a project. If I don't I can be bedridden for a couple of days.
    - I try to buy scissors or other tools that are good, but the lightest I can find, because of less stress on my hands.
    - I am working on making my area for sewing to be arranged so that I don't have to reach (as in long stretches) for something I need.
    - I also have a chair that fits my back good, but still take breaks to relieve my back. (a good cushion behind your back can feel good too)
    - I need good light for my quilting, but I cannot have the light toward my eyes at all. If I do I will start either going blind, or start seeing things that are not there. lol.....

    I will stop for now, and you can see that I don't have any thing great to start off with, and that is why I wanted to start this thread. So let's get started brainstorming!
    JuneBillie - In memory of my dear mother June, and my dear mother in law Billie.
    I am thankful for this day My name - Susan

  2. #2
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    Due to achey hands and arms I wear splints on my hands or hands to help relieve stress I also have a rice bag that I purchased at a craft show that ties around you so I can have it on my back when needed I never use regular scissors only spring loaded ones. Before i moved I traded home cooked meals for someone to cut out and label my quilt pieces Also use rice bags on my neck and shoulder secure them on shoulder with large rubber bands sit on a doughnut pillow ar sometimes a cushion that swivels

  3. #3
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    Ah yes - RA, fibro, arthritis of the spine ---

    The best thing I found is a rotary cutter that has a bend to it. It is so much easier on my hands.

    I have my cutting table raised up so I don't have to bend over so far. I also found a very comfortable stool with a back so I can sit and cut smaller pieces.

    I found compression gloves that help support my hands so I can sew a little longer.

    I do have to pace myself because i work fulltime.

  4. #4
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    The best tip I have is to get up after 30 minutes and do something else. This is not my idea, but one that I read somewhere online. Also, I just finished physical therapy for my shoulder - I was on the verge of frozen shoulder - they advised me to keep up with the exercises to keep my shoulder mobile. So I am still doing the exercises - well most days anyway, lol. I also wear compression gloves when I am hand quilting.

    I am only 5' tall, so I use adjustable height tables in my sewing area.
    Linda

  5. #5
    Super Member JanTx's Avatar
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    At a retreat I just went to one of the irons was a very light weight - seems like it was a Singer, but didn't know they made irons. The difference in weight between the irons on the different stations was huge. When I replace the one I have it will be with a lighter one.

    I have a floor lamp behind me - behind my right shoulder - it shines on my work area without shadows. It's a cheapo from Walmart, but works for me.
    So many quilts, so little time.

  6. #6
    Super Member JuneBillie's Avatar
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    I want to find me some of those compression gloves, and I will have to check out a rotary cutter with a curved handle. I have a big iron, but bought me a little bitty iron to use for small piecing. I too have one of those floor lamps, and it does help, and then I adjust a lamp on the table right over my sewing that has one of those flexible things so I can point it where I want to.
    JuneBillie - In memory of my dear mother June, and my dear mother in law Billie.
    I am thankful for this day My name - Susan

  7. #7
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    * Ergonomics ... table height, chair height/shape, positioning of your machines, even the rotary cutter as mentioned already ... and many more items! Find out what is ergonomically the best situation for you. An easy and low cost way to change your table height is to get some bed risers. I got my 2nd set of 4 for $4. The first set were $13. And now I take a set with me when I go to sewing classes.

    * Health Care Providers ... work with your "team", physio therapist, occcupational therapists, chiropractor, doctors, etc. Be sure they know you want to sew (or perhaps I should say, MUST sew, for your sanity!!!! ). Have them give you suggestions as to how to keep you doing what you love. This might be exercises you can do before you start sewing or every so many minutes etc. Perhaps they could advise re equipment/tools that can make it all a little easier for you.

    * Underfoot ... when standing for ironing, don't stand on a bare floor, get one of the squishy mats to make it easier on your body! In Canada, Canadian Tire has some great ones in the industrial/automotive section. At the least carpeting with a good underlay pad.

    * Lighting ... I can so relate to the lighting issues! For me, all my lightbulbs (thoughout my home) are daylight bulbs, so I get a good clear light. And LOTS of lights! Easier to turn off if too bright. You can't turn on what doesn't exist!

    * Magnets on Sticks and Pick Up Poles ... so you can reach for what you want, without bending down etc.

    * Toys ... look for all the sewing toys that could be of use to you. And too, consider other things that aren't meant for sewing that would work (see link below).

    * White Board ... or blackboard or cork board ... ready to keep your notes!

    * Trades/Swaps ... already mentioned. I know another lady who trades binding for cutting. Works perfectly for the two of them!

    * Ask!!!! ... don't be afraid to ask for help from others. Many people are more than happy to help, if they'd only be asked and told what to do!! Keep a running list of things people can help you with, ready for the opportunity!

    * MORE? ... I know I'll think of more and post them as the bolt of lightening strikes!

    * Stuff you USE for Quilting, that isn't originally for Quilting!!! -- While not dedicated to aids and solutions to physical challenges, I know there are a lot of ideas that have been shared in this thread that could help solve some of the challenges some face.
    Last edited by QuiltE; 06-26-2012 at 07:15 PM.
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    Sew many ideas ... just sew little time!!
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  8. #8
    Super Member earthwalker's Avatar
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    I also have Lupus along with Psoriatic Arthritis....I know how frustrating it is when you really want to quilt, but your body is not co-operating.

    To keep continuity/sanity (idle hands and all that I have a few things on the go at the same time....If handwork is out of the question...I work on designs, cut templates or sort fabric. I am trying to use my machine as much as possible, remembering to hop up every so often and do another task. I use a tall step stool to sit on when I iron and again, break the task into chunks rather than do "marathons". Spring loaded snips are a treasure and where would we be without wheat bags and sheepskin slippers. As long as I can do a quilt related activity for at least one hour a day I am a happy bunny.

    Project boxes are useful....the pattern, notes, fabrics, thread, everything you need for that quilt all in a big decorative box (I get mine from Red Dot (a dollar store)). That way you are not rummaging around trying to find stuff, you can take it to the bedroom or sofa (wherever you can work comfortably) and if visitors call, or when you are done for the day everything can pile into the box without too much trouble and mess is kept to the minimum.

    I label everything and keep most the most used items in the more accessible areas of my workspace. I have also found fingerless gloves (my kids call them hobo gloves) to be very handy...they keep most of your hand/wrist warm yet allow you to use the fingertips without impediment. I have quite a few pairs as they can get a bit grotty if you wear them a lot.

  9. #9
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JuneBillie View Post
    I will have to check out a rotary cutter with a curved handle.
    JuneBillie ... First of all, congratulations on starting the thread. I'm glad you took the "nudge" I gave you whnn you mentioned it in the other thread!

    The rotary cutter look for a Fiskars ... it's the first one I bought, over 30 yrs ago, and still have and use. I remember the quilt store lady saying how ergonomic friendly it was. In the meantime I had bought another couple, and never cared for them. Then last year I saw the same one and grabbed it up quick as could be!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Sew many ideas ... just sew little time!!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  10. #10
    Super Member JuneBillie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by quilte View Post
    junebillie ... First of all, congratulations on starting the thread. I'm glad you took the "nudge" i gave you whnn you mentioned it in the other thread!

    The rotary cutter look for a fiskars ... It's the first one i bought, over 30 yrs ago, and still have and use. I remember the quilt store lady saying how ergonomic friendly it was. In the meantime i had bought another couple, and never cared for them. Then last year i saw the same one and grabbed it up quick as could be!
    thank you
    JuneBillie - In memory of my dear mother June, and my dear mother in law Billie.
    I am thankful for this day My name - Susan

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