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Thread: Handicapped Quilter

  1. #1
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    Question Handicapped Quilter

    I work in a quilt shop and a customer told me of a quilter who recently had a stroke. Her left side is paralyzed. I would like to help this lady still quilt. Does anyone have techniques or suggestions of how to do this? I think the biggest problem would be guiding the fabric while machine sewing.

  2. #2
    Super Member Weezy Rider's Avatar
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    If it's just quilting, a holder or hoop such as Martelli has with handles could help with that. There are feet for most machines that will guide for piecing.

    Even studying such a hoop might give you an idea.

    My Pfaff 2170 has what is called a continuous hoop. You can do a length of fabric in multiple hoopings by lining up in the software. I've made yards of edgings for garments.

    Since she might not have a machine of that capability, watching these videos might help design a guide that would allow her to straight line quilt, or even meander with the hoop. Most here pooh pooh the hoops, but I have a Martelli with the grips that I used while one hand was in a cast. It worked.

  3. #3
    Super Member QuiltingNinaSue's Avatar
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    Maybe she needs therapy help to get the use back on her left side before sewing again or find alternative way to 'guide' the fabric under the needle of the machine to sew. I would inquire of the family or caretaker if you could help in any way and get the straight of the story directly from the family. It is nice to be concerned and willing to lend a hand, the world needs more caring angels in its mist.

  4. #4
    Senior Member nikki128's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eimay View Post
    I work in a quilt shop and a customer told me of a quilter who recently had a stroke. Her left side is paralyzed. I would like to help this lady still quilt. Does anyone have techniques or suggestions of how to do this? I think the biggest problem would be guiding the fabric while machine sewing.
    Hi there-

    I suffered a stroke as well and sew and quilt with only my right side. If you would like to message me I can help you out with ideas, As far as guiding the fabric I just go slow and am able to do it. It does take practice though and yoou don't have the percision of a two handed quilter.
    Happy Sewing

  5. #5
    Senior Member jokir44's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nikki128 View Post
    Hi there-

    I suffered a stroke as well and sew and quilt with only my right side. If you would like to message me I can help you out with ideas, As far as guiding the fabric I just go slow and am able to do it. It does take practice though and yoou don't have the percision of a two handed quilter.
    This warms my heart. So wonderful of you to help another quilter with the same problem. There's another star in your crown.

  6. #6
    Power Poster Prism99's Avatar
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    A physical guide helps me piece with more speed and accuracy. I use molefoam which I cut into approximately 1/4" strips. It has an adhesive backing that does not damage current machines (I would not use it on a vintage featherweight, as that type of finish is different). I use my favorite ruler to line it up on the bed of the machine. Lower the needle so it touches just right of the 1/4" line on my ruler, lower the presser foot to hold the ruler in place, check to make sure the ruler is running straight front-to-back, then take the paper off the back of a molefoam strip and butt it up to the edge of the ruler. This gives me a physical barrier for strip piecing that increases both speed and accuracy

    I ordered my molefoam from Amazon. You can always find moleskin in the foot section of pharmacies, but molefoam is harder to find in pharmacies. Molefoam is thicker than moleskin. I have used moleskin too, but then I like to layer 2 pieces of it. Easiest way to do that is to first stick one slab of moleskin on top of another slab, then cut into strips. This is easier than trying to align one strip of mokeskin on top of another while at the sewing machine.

    For cutting, I would think an electric Accuquilt would be very helpful.

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    Have you checked if she still is interested in quilting? How long ago was the stroke?

    Dad had a stroke in May 2015 and was in rehab for 4 months. He regained much of what he lost, but many things are a challenge.

    I know every person is different and each stroke is different based on where in the brain it occurred. Post stroke abilities are different and new ways of doing things have to be found. Cognitive ability needs to heal as well.

    Challenges I see:
    Prepping fabric - washing, folding, ironing, starching.
    Cutting fabric - scissors or rotary cutter
    Matching seams - How can this be managed?
    Pinning - I could not manage this one handed
    Sewing - is her machine an old one where you have to nudge the flywheel to get started?
    Quilt sandwich
    Quilting - this could be possible if she has a LAM and someone loads the quilt for her or she quilts by cheque.

    Perhaps there are other ways she can participate in quilting, if she wants too.
    Attending University. I will graduate a year after my son and year before my daughter.

  8. #8
    Super Member Teen's Avatar
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    Lovely that you are doing this. So sweet...
    Quilting therapy for the therapist...
    My Summertime Swap blocks: https://www.quiltingboard.com/member...bums19923.html

  9. #9
    Super Member madamekelly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tothill View Post
    Have you checked if she still is interested in quilting?

    Challenges I see:
    Prepping fabric - washing, folding, ironing, starching. 1. Cutting the fabric into smaller pieces simplifies this part. Ironing can be easier if you turn the board around so she works on straight sides.
    Cutting fabric - scissors or rotary cutter, 2. You can offer to trade a skill she still has for doing her fabric cuttiig.
    Matching seams - How can this be managed? 3. Binder clips can be used instead.
    Pinning - I could not manage this one handed.
    Sewing - is her machine an old one where you have to nudge the flywheel to get started?
    Quilt sandwich
    Quilting - this could be possible if she has a LAM and someone loads the quilt for her or she quilts by cheque.

    Perhaps there are other ways she can participate in quilting, if she wants too.
    Just my thoughts...good luck to her and tell her,”Where there is a will, there is a way.” Hugs.
    If you always do, what you have always done, The results never change. Change is the wings you give yourself.

  10. #10
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    Maybe it is good to watch the episode of The Quilt Show with Nola Emerie who suffered a stroke but still took up quilting. She is a very brave and inspiring woman.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96PFcp4YpaM

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    I read an article about a one armed quilter years ago. Many of her tips were described. This may be her.

    Thesinglehandedlife.blogspot.com

    (I'm on a tablet, no link. Sorry)

  12. #12
    Senior Member kat13's Avatar
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    When I had my stroke it was a blessing since I had a brain aneurism
    That was discovered..while waiting I
    On my platelets to get the right count for surgery they sent me to rehab..my left side was affected so they worked on exercise of that side.. Simple things like taking beads out of a glob of putty climbing stairs and walking,
    I went home before I was able to have surgery so I had home healthcare so many people teaching me basic stuff..
    I realized with my sewing, I would have to re-learn what I didn't use, I'm still not there but little by little I'm able to make quilts and small projects!
    Still have to learn my EQ-7 all over..
    It's been 4 years and I've made much progress! Just don't stop trying is my best advice!! You lose it if you don't use it!!

  13. #13
    Super Member Rose_P's Avatar
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    I have little to add to this thread except that I often wish I could tell everyone who has had a stroke and all their loved ones that my sister-in-law's wonderful mother had a stroke at age 80 that hampered her speech and left one side of her body severely impaired. She managed to live a full life for another 18 years after that. At first it is so devastating that people may want to give up. They need all the encouragement they can get. With speech therapy that dear lady regained her ability to communicate quite well. Who would have even thought that much recovery would be possible that late in life! One of her granddaughters was inspired to get a masters degree in speech therapy because of her.

    Yes, there will be frustrations, but any effort to get back into her creative lifestyle will be well worth it. Thank you, Eimay, for pursuing this for her. I hope something works well. At first the effort will be to get her just to be able to do the most basic things, but being able to feed, dress and bathe herself will not alone provide a satisfying life, so finding a way to do something she loves is absolutely necessary. If actual sewing is too frustrating at first, perhaps she could type up some quilting tutorials or a memory album about her hobby, or she could look for inspiration in quilt books and perhaps sort her fabric stash for some future project. Maybe there's a UFO she never got around to that someone else can complete under her direction. Maybe there's a loved one or neighbor who would enjoy being her quilting partner, able to organize her stuff where she can get at it from a different perspective. My sewing room as is would not accommodate a walker or wheelchair, or even someone unsteady on her feet, and I'll bet most of us would be in that same situation. Not only that, but maybe hers is upstairs or in a basement. For this quilter, there may be a whole lot to do to get from point A to point B, now that there's this sudden change, but I sure hope there's support to get her back as far as possible.
    “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.” ~Maya Angelou.
    One's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

  14. #14
    Senior Member ArlaJo's Avatar
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    My DD had a stroke at 40. She's now 50 (this month) and has relearned to sew and piece. She has had to learn to do everything left handed but she has done it. She even longarms, but need help putting the quilt on the frame. She amazes me with the things she does. She NEVER says I can't do that. She just does it.
    So much fabric, so little time.

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    Thank you for taking the time to post this encouraging message. The creative aspect of quilting brings much joy. Small projects with a quilting partner could help restore quality of life.

  16. #16
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    Our son lost the ability to use his right arm for the most part due to serious illness, not a stroke. He does amazing things anyway. I’d sure like to contact Nola and ask her about her bicycle. She must be able to brake using only her left hand. I’ve been encouraging our son to get back to bike riding. Inspirational story for sure, and her quilts are amazing. Our son has been building a guitar.

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    Thank you for so many suggestions and so much encouragement. I'll focus on what you have said and give it a go. Thank you all!

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