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Thread: Need Advice For Helping Handicapped Quilters

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    In the South

    Need Advice For Helping Handicapped Quilters

    I am very close to a person,who early on suffered a stroke, which left her right side weakened.There is little or no muscle tone in the right hand, making it difficult to grasp an object.Now she wants toquilt but the impeded
    right side makes it impossible to hold the edges of the fabric together when piecing.Does anybody have any ideas
    or tips on helping her?Is there any quilt she can make without piecing? Are there any impeded quilters on this forum
    who have ideas?Help!

  2. #2
    Senior Member Helen6869's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    SW Georgia
    I know this isn't what you asked and may not help you very much but we had a lady who came to our quilting class at Hancock's who had only one arm. She amazed me!! She had the best attitude too. Her best friend helped her to make all of her quilts but she always brought one to show and tell every month, and they were great! So, with a little help from her friends, your friend should be able to join in also. I hope you can find a way to help her with this. I think this lady's friend did the cutting and she did the sewing. This might work for yall! You are so kind to be willing to help her. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Senior Member Handcraftsbyjen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    New Hampshire
    There is 1/8" wide fusible that comes on a roll. She can fuse it to the fabric then sew her 1/4" seam ... However this would make it so she can't press her seams open. For her binding, she could use the Creative Grids Quick Trim Ruler and do the perfect miter by bringing the fabric to the front and machine stitch it.

  4. #4
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Western Wisconsin
    Blog Entries
    Has she tried using a physical seam guide on her sewing machine? I create one with moleskin to build up an edge. This makes sewing strips together with an accurate seam pretty easy. The strips can be slid together and (provided there is some space in front of the machine) held down with a hand.

    She might want to start out with a "cheater" top. This is a fabric panel that is printed to look like a pieced top. You layer it for machine quilting. If she has a newer machine, it's really easy to machine quilt using a serpentine stitch (instead of stitch-in-the-ditch) and the results are very nice. Here is a link to a baby quilt kit that uses a "cheater" panel:

    If she wants to get fancy using free-motion machine embroidery on the quilt top, Ann Fahl has some good books and a video out on how to do that.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    At my laptop
    I know the Babylock machines have a built in 1/4 " seam allowance from the left side of the J foot. Therefore she can use her left hand to guide, it's all in what you are used to. After a stroke, you just are retraining the brain. This might help. I would think other brands would have this as well.

  6. #6
    Power Poster QuiltE's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Ontario, Canada
    Don't assume that she can do it. However, for someone who cannot physically do something, there is always a way if they truly want to do something.

    Yes, we usually use our right hand to hold fabrics together. Who says we have to do it with our right? Our left can reach over and do it for us, if we really want to do something!

    So take a patience pill and help her start with something simple to help her get used to working with the sewing machine and fabric ... and to figure out some of the innovative ways to make it happen.

    She CAN do it ... and we'll all look forward to seeing the results!


    You asked if there was any quilt she can do without pieceing. Whole cloth quilts are always an option ... either using yardage or cheater quilt fabric or a pre-printed panel.
    Last edited by QuiltE; 03-19-2012 at 08:03 PM.
    Sew many ideas ... just sew little time!!

  7. #7
    Super Member purplemem's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Blog Entries
    I also use a tool to grasp the needle to pull through the fabric. It is a curved needle nose set of pliers with spring loaded handles. It was $2 at Harbor Freight and $5 at Tractor Supply. I can push the needle through the fabric and pull with these pliers so it takes very little hand strength.

    For the piecing I would suggest pretty cheater panels, panel quilts or whole cloth pieces. Often my mother and I buy a really intricate piece of scenery fabric and quilt the entire thing, just adding a border. The border could be attached with hot glue or team sewed by a friend.
    Adapt! Improvise! Overcome!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Enid, OK
    Blog Entries
    ah, the stapler..such a noble and handy household gadget! I have a friend who has no thumb...she staples her fabric together instead of pinning! works great! then she just used a staple puller to remove them. YES< it takes her longer, but as she says, everything takes her longer, and she is happy with doing it this way!

  9. #9
    Super Member GrannieAnnie's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    S. W. Indiana
    Would she be interested in quilting a whole cloth quilt?

    Maybe a raw edge applique quilt would be the ticket.

    She could always try something small, like a mug rug to see if a different technique would be her cup of tea.
    Bad Spellers of the World
    U N T I E

  10. #10
    Senior Member Pepita's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Richmond, TX
    I think there used to be a little gaget called a third hand. I think the often looked like birds with a clamp. That m ight help, but she could use office supply clamps, you know the black ones with the silver attachements I think they are called binder clips or butterfly clips. Whole cloth quilts don't require cutting etc. There is also the accuquilt cutting system. If anyone has access to local schools they often have die cutters that might make some of the shapes. John Flynn has lazer cut fabric for double wedding ring quilts and probably others as well.
    I went through a time where I hurt too much to move my arms up. I thought I wouldn't be able to quilt. But I modified what I did, usually machine piecing to hand piecing and could still quilt. I have a little baby block quilt that I think of my victory quilt, because I didn't give up.
    My son is a paraplegic and there are lots of modifications that can be made. The therapists have splints or gloves that can help hands that can't do things into shaped things that allow you to function.

    I am afraid I don't have that site that I used on this computer. If she is having any therapy her best help would be to explain to her therapist what she wants to do and see if they have ideas. If she belongs to a local bee she might be lucky enough to enlist the help of some of those fine ladies to help her cut out her pieces.
    Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you too can become great. Mark Twain

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