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

  1. #1
    Power Poster 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!
    "Sometimes it's OK if the only thing you did today was breathe."
    Good friends are right there with you.

    Susan

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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

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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
    Power Poster 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.
    "Sometimes it's OK if the only thing you did today was breathe."
    Good friends are right there with you.

    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!

    * http://www.quiltingboard.com/main-f1...g-t152963.html -- 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!!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

  8. #8
    Power Poster 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!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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  10. #10
    Power Poster 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
    "Sometimes it's OK if the only thing you did today was breathe."
    Good friends are right there with you.

    Susan

  11. #11
    Senior Member rrhaigh's Avatar
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    I have trouble with my hands and wrist and a friend of mine cannot stand for long. So, we trade work. I have a long arm, so I quilt her quilts for her and she does all my binding. We are both very happy with this arrangement. I also have an ergonomic rotary cutter and a cutting table set high. I wear a wrist/hand brace when cutting or doing any type of hand work. I also stop and do hand and wrist exercises so my hands don't cramp up. When working on the long arm, I wear good shoes with good support to protect my spine/back. I am considering getting anti-fatigue mats as well even though the machine is on carpet on the second floor (so no cement). When working on the long arm I don't grab the handles tight, just guide them lightly - otherwise my hands cramp and hurt. After each pass I stop and stretch and my fingers and wrist. This helps a lot. It is amazing what we remedies we can find to be able to continue our beloved quilting!
    Robin
    robinsquiltingroom.blogspot.com
    Southern California

  12. #12
    Super Member auntpiggylpn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by earthwalker View Post
    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.
    I too have Psoriatic Arthritis and nerve damage that effects my hands from a car accident 25 years ago. I have achy shoulders, knees and elbows. My hands go numb pretty quickly. I also have Psoriasis on the palms of my hands. Just the constant touching of the fabrics on my palms makes my hands itch to no end! Any one with Psoriasis knows that the more you itch, the worse your Psoriasis is. I wear fingerless craft gloves (purchased in craft dept at Walmart - They are neon green). If I am having trouble with numbness, I wear the compression gloves. I have a squishy mat in front of my ironing board and another one in front of my cutting table. I make sure my chair is at a good height when I am sewing. I stretch often. I tend to hunch over when I am sewing and that really affects the damaged nerve in my neck and shoulders. I find it very difficult to do any kind of hand work so I don't sweat it that I have to sew my bindings on by machine. Not that any of the quilts are going into a show to be judged! I have home exercises that the chiropractor gave me for the nerve issues. If I do them faithfully, I don't have much issue. I can tell when I have slacked off.
    No one has ever become poor by giving. - Anne Frank
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    I found the TrueCut Rulers and their bent rotary cutter to be beneficial. There is a ridge on the cutter thar rides on the ruler. I don't have to stress my wrist to keep the blade in line with the ruler. It just happens naturally because of the ridge. I also use their electric blade sharpener to keep my blades sharp so I don't have to apply so much pressure.
    Cheryl Robinson
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  14. #14
    Power Poster JuneBillie's Avatar
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    There is a rubber mat that surgeons use when they have to stand for hours.
    "Sometimes it's OK if the only thing you did today was breathe."
    Good friends are right there with you.

    Susan

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    Well, I have to say I am amazed and humbled by many of you!! You continue to make quilts because you love it, in spite of physical limitations. That's real passion!! You're an inspiration!!
    -Chris-
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    I have degenerative arthritis in my lower back and bursitits in my left hip; both conditions work together to make everything painful. The one thing that has helped me the most, aside from what others have already mentioned...is to mentally change my thinking. I know I can no longer create a quilt in a few days. Little messages about time not being an issue, not setting deadlines and just totally focusing on the joy of being able to quilt has become my new focus.
    Brenda

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    Since my chemo I have numb hands and feet but I just keep quilting. I use most of the items already listed. I have come to realize I will do what I can as I enjoy it. My hand applique is not what it used to be but it is satisfying so I just do it. We may be slower and maybe not as good as before but keep up the habit! Our mental hapiness counts for lots.

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    Perhaps a timer to remind one to get up and move?
    Or set the ironing board a little bit away so one has to get up (if one can)?

  19. #19
    Senior Member Toni C's Avatar
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    I iron sitting down. You can adjust the ironing board any height why stand when you can sit.
    http://help4neckpain.com/h4np.php this was a helpful site that I got from the quilting school. Hope it goes through

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Silver Needle View Post
    I found the TrueCut Rulers and their bent rotary cutter to be beneficial. There is a ridge on the cutter thar rides on the ruler. I don't have to stress my wrist to keep the blade in line with the ruler. It just happens naturally because of the ridge. I also use their electric blade sharpener to keep my blades sharp so I don't have to apply so much pressure.
    That's exactly the one I found. I couldn't remember the name when I first posted. That one thing alone helped tremendously with rotary cutting with RA hands! I will look at their rotary sharpener. Thanks.

  21. #21
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    The Fiskar's spring loaded scissors take a lot of pressure off your hands. I have arthritis that affects my right hand so cutting can cause a flair. They come in large and small and I love them.
    Sue

  22. #22
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    I have a neck and shoulder injury from 2 car accidents within 2 weeks of each other about 18 years ago. Sometimes its tolerable and sometimes it isn't. On the days its tolerable I quilt and sew, on the days it isn't I don't. It isn't a matter of will I hurt today, I hurt every day; its a matter of how much I hurt today and is it manageable.

    I use most of the things already mentioned on here and am always on the lookout for things to do or things to use to make quilting easier for me and others.

    Thank you so much for starting this thread and I look forward to sharing with you when I can.

    delma

  23. #23
    Super Member QuiltnLady1's Avatar
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    I have real problems with the joints in my thumbs. I don't have compression gloves, but I do have a pair of gardening gloves that are sticky and they fit real snug. I use them when I am quilting and they really help my hands and they hold onto the quilt so I don't have problems.

    As far as scissors --- I have to switch frequently between the spring loaded and non-spring loaded ones since using either one for any length of time cause a lot of pain in my thumb joints.

    When I piece or rotary cut I wear something called a soft splint that supports my thumb, wraps around my hand and leaves my fingers and the tip of my thumb free.

    I use the ergonomic Olfa cutter -- it does not hit the thumb joint the way the bent one does and I can use it longer.
    QuiltnLady1

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  24. #24
    Senior Member sylviak's Avatar
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    I've had two back surgeries: One on lower back and another in the cervical region. I have pain in the front thigh, lower back and pelvic area, and right neck and shoulder. The front part of both feet are numb and my legs cramp if I'm not up and moving. I'm on pain meds that help, but my right shoulder still really bothers me. I've learned that pressure points can really help. I use firm pressure on the fold of my elbow for about 70 sec. and it relieves the pain significantly. It's free and fast, so hope it will help someone else.

  25. #25
    Power Poster JuneBillie's Avatar
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    More good ideas. I do the same as a couple of you mentioned about not thinking about getting a project done in a day or certain time. I have learned, that I can't know one day from the next, and that is also where the change in attitude that others mentioned comes in. Attitude is everything. Oh, and yes with me too I hurt everyday, but how much is the wait and see game. Even though we hurt, if you are like me, quilting or sewing is mental therapy, and so satisfying. I believe the more we are involved in something like this to keep our stress down the better long term we will be. The one who said your applique isn't what it use to be, that is ok as long as it's enjoyable to you. Besides, nothing I do is like it use to be. The only contest I am out to win is being happy in the moment day by day.
    "Sometimes it's OK if the only thing you did today was breathe."
    Good friends are right there with you.

    Susan

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