Thursday, August 2, 2012

Safe Sewing: Crafting with Arthritis

Color by jenib320
Color, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
I have been thinking about this post for a few months now, and it finally felt like the right time to write it.  I work hard to keep this a positive place, and I wasn't sure I could talk about this topic in a positive way.  I figure, there is already enough negativity on the internet, and I don't want to add any more! With that being said, I think it's okay to break my own rules every once in a while. I promise it will still be cheerful, but it will also hit on something I struggle with everyday.

Patched by jenib320
Patched, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
The fact of the matter is, I have arthritis.  Have had it since I was little.  I am lucky, I could have it much worse, but for the last few years especially, it has become more active and I have had to adjust my life to help manage it. My wrists, hands, feet and knees are mainly involved.  I have to be careful and pace myself when sewing or quilting, and often times my arthritis gets in my way.  I've slowly found that others in the crafting community, are silently suffering too! For their privacy, I don't want to name any names, but it made me realize that perhaps it was something I should address here on this blog!

It may sound silly to any non-sewers/crafters that are reading, but quilting and sewing can actually be rather hard on your body at times, especially if you are crafting often! So, I want to take the opportunity to talk today about some of the techniques and tricks I use in order to protect myself! Even if you don't have physical limitations, it's still important to take proper care of yourself in order avoid injury. Let's get started!

Storage:
Sewing Room by jenib320
Sewing Room, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
I store my fabric in plastic bins that live under my sewing table.  Using medium-sized bins versus larger bins means that they are not as heavy and therefore easier to move.  Once they are on the floor, I can slide them around on the carpet instead of lifting them, which is also helpful! Everything that I use on a daily or even regular basis, is stored at eye level or below.  Minimizing any lifting I have to do above my head is a priority (I'm also short, haha).

Cutting:
Cutting by jenib320
Cutting, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
Cutting fabric can be really hard on your wrists, and my wrists are at the biggest risk of being overworked.  I used to use one of these soft grip Fiskars rotary cutters, but found that the way I was squeezing it caused me additional pain.  Last year I switched to one of these straight Olfa rotary cutters and it's made a big difference for me.  My wrists feel better and I don't get raw patches or blisters from it.  And I use it nearly everyday!

In terms of holding your acrylic ruler in place when you're getting ready to cut, you might find one of these Gypsy Grippers helpful.  I have used one once before, but found I couldn't squeeze it very well, so it wasn't very useful for me.  My current method is slightly embarrassing though! My table is relatively short, so I actually bring my knee around on to the table to hold my ruler.  It looks ridiculous, but it works!  The real solution though, is to simply change your blade more often.  I now do that much more than I used to! I can find the Fiskars rotary blades cheaper, and they fit my Olfa cutter just fine!

Ironing:
Iron by jenib320
Iron, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
Part of what inspired this post was my initial love for a self-lifting Oliso iron.  I wish I could recommend them, but I definitely cannot.  To keep things short, my iron lasted five months and then I dealt with customer service for two months trying to get a replacement, which then also died.  At this point, I simply use a very lightweight iron, this one by Sunbeam.  It gets really hot and doesn't weigh much, so there is minimal strain on the wrists, PLUS, it's pink! Just find something that is comfortable for you!

Sewing:
Having your sewing machine at an appropriate height can help ensure that you are not putting your body at risk.  This may mean sitting up a pillow to bring yourself up higher or finding another chair.  Investing in a comfortable chair with proper back support is certainly important.  It's definitely on my list of things my craft room needs! ;)

When I am hunkering down for a long length of sewing, I like to make sure that I am varying my activities.  I have found that for myself, repetition is my enemy.  If I have 100 half-square triangles to sew, iron, and trim I'll often split them in half or quarters, so that I'm not doing any one thing for too long.  This is especially important when I'm trimming!  I'm very excited to try out this rotating cutting mat next time I need to trim, I think it's going to be really helpful!

I also make sure that I don't stay sitting for too long to avoid getting stiff! I try to walk around and leave the room at least once an hour!

Basting:
Thesis Quilt by jenib320
Thesis Quilt, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
I am a pin baster, and I do baste on my hands and knees on the floor, but it's all made so much easier by a little notion called the Kwik Klip.  It's a tool that helps you open and close your curved safety pins.  I bought it on a whim with a coupon, and it's now one of my favorite tools.  I will not baste anything without it! It minimizes stress on your fingers and wrists and simply makes the whole process faster. You can watch a video showing how it's used here.

If you have trouble basting on the floor, some people prefer to baste in sections on a large table! Again, find a method that works best for you!

Quilting:
Quilting by jenib320
Quilting, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
This is where I personally run into the most problems.  I learned the hard way, that both free-motion and straight line quilting can be really tough on you.  Since I know I have wrist problems, I now only quilt while wearing a brace.   I use this very attractive one by Ace.  I used to have a cute green one from Joanns, but it had no stiff support, which ensures your wrist is kept stable.  It takes a while to get used to, since it's a bit bulky, but it does it's job!  I also quilt with Grabaroo's quilting gloves, (worn under the brace!), which make it easier to grip the quilt during quilting. 

When I set out to quilt something, I usually only quilt for about an hour at a time.  I then take a break and relax for 15 minutes or so on the couch with an ice pack over my right shoulder.  I tend to get sore there, so I preemptively ice it.  I also make sure I'm not quilting too many quilts in a short time, just to be safe.

Handwork:
Slow by jenib320
Slow, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
I don't have too much trouble with handwork like embroidery or english paper piecing, as long as I don't over do it.  If I'm really antsy to work on a particular project, I'll only work on it maybe every other day, and usually not for more than an hour or so.  

Thread! by jenib320
Thread!, a photo by jenib320 on Flickr.
The most important thing when doing any craft, is to listen to your body.  If you're in pain, STOP! Take a break, rest, do something else and come back to it later.  It's much worse to keep going and end up with a serious injury!

Everyone is different, so what works for one person may not work for another, but these are the things that have worked for me. I do hope that this has been helpful!  Thanks for listening :)

Happy Crafting!

180 comments:

  1. Such a great article! Thank you so much for sharing all of these tips. I'm proud of you for being a voice and showing folks that arthritis doesn't mean an end to their crafts and that they don't have to do it through pain. :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh I didn't know! I'm sorry! But you seem to manage it very well as you're still quite the prolific sewist!
    But you're right - it all does take a toll on your body if you're not careful! I too am in need of a good chair. The wooden desk chair I use is the wrong height, and for someone who is prone to neck/shoulder pain from tension or bad posture, I can feel it if I'm sitting in the same position too long.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It's really nice to hear that other people struggle with these things too. I was feeling like a total baby for having back pain and wrist pain while cutting, basting and quilting. I'm definitely going to make some of the changes you recommended to see if they help!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. What a great post! I will be using some of your tips. Have you ever tried a powered fabric cutting tool. Lil Blue Boo posted a video of hers on her blog and it looks pretty cool.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jeni,
    Thanks so much for sharing all these great tips! Wishing you continued success in working around the challenges your body provides.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I just started using those new titanium rotary cutting blades - they work great - but are extremely sharp so use extra care with them! Thanks for the tips and more gorgeous photos!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I have tendonitis and struggle with repetition too. HA - and I also use my knee to help hold my ruler when I cut. It does feel awkward - but it works!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I have two of those wrist braces in an attractive navy blue that I need to wear at night when I've been doing too much work with the hands. My hands get numb otherwise. I've not tried them while sewing, though. I shall give that a try!

    ReplyDelete
  9. thanks for sharing all those tips, jeni! even for those with minimal limitations, it's really helpful to hear about what other quilters are doing. i have one tip that you may've heard before- i buy my rotary blades from Harbor Freight. they're $1.99 for a pack of two, and they're the perfect size for a standard rotary cutter. i've been using them for months and they're just as good as regular rotary blades. they're in the carpet section and are labeled 'carpet blades'.

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is a really great post. I too have arthritis, but I'm a lot older than you. I teach Tai Chi, and it's one of the best things for arthritis. Maybe you could find a class in your area.

    ReplyDelete
  11. A much needed post. I too have pain when sewing, nowhere bad as yours. I just make sure to take a lot of breaks and realize I'm not in a race. I lay may left arm from the elbow down on my ruler when cutting. It helps my hands so much. Thanks for the tips.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Jen -

    Thanks for the revelation about your health issues. I believe there are many of us out there who are "dealing" with similar problems. Hopefully we can share adaptations that work and maybe someone else can benefit.

    I just retired as a result of polymyalgia rheumatica, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, an unknown neurologic condition that is causing tremors, twitches and dropping things; and a host of other medical issues. I have learned that the most important thing I can do is pace myself, LISTEN to my body and adapt to my own body needs (which change by the hour sometimes), keep stress low and get as much sleep as I can. I no longer do the same thing two days in a row. If the tremors are bad I don't dare use a needle...too much blood loss, lol. I bought a new machine that has an autothreader and embroidery feature so I can quilt with the embroidery hoop...start the machine and sit back and relax while it does its thing. If i am having a really bad tremor day I find that knitting and crocheting are "bigger" movements and not as impacted by the tremor. I may be able to do a few rows before I have to stop. If I can't turn the pages in a book...I use my Nook as pushing a button is easier than trying to turn pages. And on a REALLY bad day I stay in bed and daydream of the beautiful quilts I will create when my body is more willing to cooperate. It is all a matter of paying attention to my body and adapting. Nothing gets done quickly anymore. It can take months and months to do what I could once do quickly. But...I've got plenty of time!

    Lin

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for letting me know. I appreciate your advice. I am sure as I continue in my 50's I'll need to use your helps. I'm sorry you "get" to have arthritis. I hope you keep being happy and do what you can. You are an inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Thanks for the great article! Last fall I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. It has taken some adjusting to continue to sew as much as I want to! :) I hope your article and words of advice help make it easier for other quilters! Thank you again!

    ReplyDelete
  15. These are all such amazing tips Jeni! I think they even can apply to everyone! Anyway, man Jeni, I had no idea, I know you sort of mentioned it before, so I'm really even more amazed at all the things you do now! I know my wrists and shoulders get sore while cutting and quilting, lots of repetition is hard on the body! You are amazing Jeni! Thanks for sharing your story.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you so much for sharing, your tips are very helpful.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for this post. I was diagnosed with RA a year and a half ago and it has really impacted every aspect of my life. I am also always on the lookout for things that make my crafting life easier - thank you for sharing the tip about quilting with the braces on. I have to sleep with them on at night or I wake up with hands and wrists that don't move and I have to say I was terrified at the prospect of having to quilt the quilt I spray basted today because of the pain I knew I was facing. I only have the arthritis in my hands and wrists (for now). I can't imagine having it in so many joints. Thank you for sharing your story (I have been sharing more of mine a little at a time - it is hard because, like you said, the blog is the happy place). Good luck Jeni and thank you for the tips about quilting!

    ReplyDelete
  18. This is such a good thing to talk about I think! Good for you being brave and voicing about your arthritis.

    I feel that these tips are excellent for anyone with or without a condition. I exercise quite a bit during the week and have found stretching every 30-60 minutes in between quilting really serves me well. The actual quilting part does take a toll on me too.

    I need to try one of those rotating mats though;)

    The things we do for the love of quilting hey!!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you. I am now starting to deal with arthritis in my hands (I've had it in my leg joints for awhile but not my hands). Much of what you said just plain makes sense - arthritis or not but now that I'm feeling it more I will be thinking of what you said. Some of what you said I knew but some I didn't and will now look at what I'm doing a bit closer. Thank you again.

    Wanda
    http://wandas-quilts-crafts.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  20. Jeni
    Thanks for your honesty and your helpful advise. As an arthritis sufferer, I also need to listen to my body and know when to go on and when to stop and rest.
    xo

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thanks for sharing, Jeni, and I agree with others that even those of us that don't struggle with arthritis could benefit from your tips! My shoulders get sore from being hunched over my machine and my back has hurt from cutting out involved patterns on the floor...I should take better care of myself and ease up on my body, too! But thank you for sharing - your creations are such eye candy, and I love following along on IG too. You're amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Thanks For Sharing Jeni we are all should watch repetitive motions and try to be easy on our bodies. The women in my family all deal with arthritis and I realize every day how to listen to my body. I switch up from Quilting to crochet and back again. I love your blog thanks so much.

    ReplyDelete
  23. (((((Jeni)))))

    What a wonderful article, so full of good information that I'm sure will be helpful to lots of folks!

    Thanks for sharing...

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thanks for this post, and I wish you continued health! I can't believe you get so much accomplished, even without limitations! I suffer wrist pain at work (preK-5th art teacher), and repetition is definitely what does it. I feel like a baby if I wear a wrist brace the next day after cutting supplies for 150+ students, but now I feel better knowing it's not just me! Thanks for all of the tips!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Great post Jeni! I have a huge cyst in my right wrist that bothers me all the time and I have that same wrist brace. It makes a WORLD of difference to use it when I'm doing most anything, computer work and sewing at the top of the list. I know I need to be better about a lot of things, and this post was a great reminder to take better care of myself. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thanks for sharing all your helpful hints. While I don't have arthritis, I am getting old, and a lot of these tips are great! I must get one of those tools to make pinning easier! And I really don't think the topic or anything you said could in any way be constued as negative!

    ReplyDelete
  27. WOnderful post Jeni. Sorry that you have to deal with arthritis. I'm 6.5 months pregnant now and I have carpal tunnel and arthritis on my legs, it gets to be a REAL (literally) pain to quilt and cut at times. Thank you so much for sharing your tips - many of which I too use personally.

    Take care!

    -Q

    ReplyDelete
  28. I think we will be seeing many, many more "adaptive" tools on the market in the next ten years and that's going to be a wonderful thing for all of us with arthritis. Bravo to you for not letting it stop you from the things you enjoy! xxoo

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thanks Jen that was really sweet of you to tell us and give us the advice. I to have Fm, chronic fatigue osteoarthritis etc. and some days I find it so frustrating but as everyone has suggested we all have to find what works for us and not over do things but that is easier said then done. Blessings to you and just keep on going with your quilting because you are so good Sandraq

    ReplyDelete
  30. Thanks for sharing your story. Great tips and I use some of these already. I have arthritis in my back and just recently diagnosed with tarsel tunnel on both feet, so standing for very long is an issue as well as all the other aches and pains. If we listen...our bodies do tell us when enough is enough. Where there is a will there is a way to KWILT ON!

    ReplyDelete
  31. Thank you so much for sharing all of this!! Lots of great tips but more importantly a great reminder that it's so important that we all take care of ourselves. Your work is even more inspiring now, knowing the challenges you face!

    ReplyDelete
  32. I love the way you told how you work around your problem and manage to do what you love. Kudos for a wonderful post.

    ReplyDelete
  33. I also have arthritis. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis 8 years ago. These are wonderful tips. I will definitely incorporate them into my sewing routine. People with arthritis tend to get carpal tunnel very easily. It is so important to keep things ergonomic. This came to mind because i had surgery for it last Monday. Great post and I love the positive attitude.

    ReplyDelete
  34. THANK YOU for the post and the tips! I have fibromyalgia and carple tunnel (sp?)with a touch of arthritis tossed in and came to quilting because it was easier on me than my beloved cross stitching. Even then, there are things that can be rough on the body.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Thank you for sharing. I have EB-S and can't tolerate much pressure on my fingers and hands, too many blisters otherwise. I use invisi-grip on the back of my rulers and it makes a huge difference to the amount of pressure needed to hold them in position. I also use my quilting gloves(a different pair!) for vacuuming, looks weird but totally helps!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Thanks Jeni for sharing your tips! I will definitely be trying a few of these out!:) Great post!

    ReplyDelete
  37. What a great post, thanks so much for all the tips.

    ReplyDelete
  38. thank you for sharing this! i am definitely going to try some of your tips. i need to be more mindful of what my body is saying or i know i will pay in the long(er) run. this article was a timely reminder, as i am about to embark on making a king size quilt...lots of repetitive tasks!

    ReplyDelete
  39. So sorry about the arthritis. I'm a carpal tunnel crafter myself. I used to crochet but had to quit altogether because it was so painful for me. I changed to quilting which still has occasional issues for me but I'm figuring out that it's not as painful if I do more of it in moderation instead of a lot of sewing at one sitting.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Oh yeah, you've definitely, uh, hit a nerve with this one! I've had Repetative Stress Injuries for 5+ years from too much knitting, plus arthritis in a few joints... and it's definitely a big factor. The one thing you didn't mention that is actually my number 1 source of craft-related pain is typing and blogging! Before I write a comment on anyone's blog, I always consider if it's worth the discomfort of typing... and of course, I find myself compelled to write long blog posts even when my wrists and fingers hurt! Do you find that too? I do use a dictation program for some things, but only for long blocks of text!

    ReplyDelete
  41. LOVE your post!!! I'm just now hitting problems with my hands and dealing with the Rheumatologist trying to get answers, but it certainly helps to hear from other quilters what helps for them. I am also dealing with ankle issues from heel spurs. I keep working to keep off my feet, but then my hands are over worked.. UGH!!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Thanks for this post, really good tips for everybody. I had no idea about your struggle, it makes me respect your work all the more!

    ReplyDelete
  43. Great post. One important thing you said, to rest when you need to. I have had RA for many years and sometimes it is hard to stop knitting and rest because the craft helps me to cope.

    ReplyDelete
  44. My husband has wrist issues and uses fingerless gloves that we bought at WalMart. They are so well worn I can't find a name, but they actually have support along the thumb and the front of the glove. He wears them for everything from driving to gardening. I can't remember if we got them in the pharmacy or sporting goods, but they are the best he has found for having support but also freedom of movement.

    ReplyDelete
  45. This is a good post with good information. My husband has suffered with RA since '71. Somedays now he is almost immobile. Ins co have made meds that help unaffordable with super hi deductibles.
    I commend you for mentioning it here as support for others afflicted and also for maintaining a positive attitude in living with RA. I know first hand how frustrating it can be.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Thank you for sharing. I too have arthritis and a handful of other problems (thanks to an auto-accident 10 years ago). While my issues only play tricks with my feet; if it's a bad day, that means it's unbearable to walk. That of course is a nightmare when my studio is on the 2nd floor or when I'm in the middle of something and need to get up to press/cut/etc.

    I guess all I can say is that knowing we all are in good company makes it a "little" more bearable.

    ReplyDelete
  47. Thank you! And the rotating mat helps me a LOT. I'll definitely be getting a Kwik Klip and wrist guard. Quilting makes my shoulders hurt so bad. I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia and I'm antsy to get back to sewing. Great timing for a great post!

    ReplyDelete
  48. Thank you! And the rotating mat helps me a LOT. I'll definitely be getting a Kwik Klip and wrist guard. Quilting makes my shoulders hurt so bad. I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia and I'm antsy to get back to sewing. Great timing for a great post!

    ReplyDelete
  49. Hi Jeni! I don't have any arthritis problems, but still wanted to thank you for putting yourself out there and doing this post!

    ReplyDelete
  50. Jeni, you may be a fabulous quilter with a fancy blog, but you are allowed to be human, too. That was a very positive treatment of a difficult topic. I admire you more because of all you do despite the arthritis! I bet your tips will help lots of us. Thanks for being open!

    ReplyDelete
  51. I'm so sorry you've had to deal with this most of your life. I once taught a kindergartner who suffered with rheumotoid arthritis. He was a real trouper. I think you learn early how to deal with your pain when you grow up living with it. Thank you for all your tips. If we all did many of these things daily, we might not develop some of the problems quilters tend to develop. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  52. Thank you for sharing, this post was very informative and well written. I find that my hands go numb when I do hand work, lots of cutting and free motion quilting.

    I also had to change my rotary cutter, and add a pillow to my chair at the sewing machine. The first time I free motion quilted I did not listen to my body and found that I could not move the next day. LOL We just have to know our limitations and how to work around them. Keep up being an inspiration.

    ReplyDelete
  53. While I don't have RA, I have similar problems with overdoing repetitive activities, so I feel for you. I found it interesting that handwork doesn't bother you much, as my hands cramp up horribly whenever I hand-sew anything (or write more than a sentence by hand even). Whenever I'm doing a binding I have to split the work up or my hands get so sore that I end up spending a whole day unable to do much of anything! Don't even get me started on my thumbs if I overdo it on knitting . . . ;o)

    Thanks for posting this, I don't think enough people realize that even those of us who are young deal with this stuff!

    ReplyDelete
  54. Hi Jen and thanks for this wonderful post. I am another reader and fan with RA. Life is always about making adjustments and accommodations, and I find that being sedentary for extended periods is one of the worst things. So your advice to avoid hours of repetition (or just sitting) is spot on!

    I get that same pain in the neck/shoulder area. Oddly enough, it began as a youth when I played piano. Obviously, Tension while doing a sitting activity is the common denominator.

    I am going to try that Olfa rotary cutter and wear my wrist brace too. Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  55. Jen, this is in no way a negative post. It's about reality and your very proactive, positive response to it. Feel free to write more posts like this.

    ReplyDelete
  56. So great to hear your honesty and sharing on this subject. I really appreciate the advice too!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Absolutely right! You nailed it!

    ReplyDelete
  58. Great advice for anyone - I found it to be very positive, myself. Thanks for sharing, as always.

    ReplyDelete
  59. Thanks so much for all the tips, recommendations, and reminders. I'm just getting older and achier anyway, and I want to be able to sew and enjoy it for many many years.

    ReplyDelete
  60. I think the things in this post can be applicable to everyone with or without arthritis . This post may also give hope to others with arthritis that it may be possible for them to sew or craft by possibly changing their technique.

    ReplyDelete
  61. Great post, Jeni! I am glad that you have found ways to work around your condition and do things you enjoy (and we enjoy seeing!)! These are things we all need to think about - I should always stretch before and after sewing!

    ReplyDelete
  62. So sorry to hear you suffer with arthritis. Great that you are able to find ways to help minimize the stress so you can continue your crafting. Thanks for being such an encouragement to other!

    ReplyDelete
  63. we all learn to deal with our aches and pains, but mostly we learn to carry on, to keep on quilting and knitting ... it keeps us moving and gives us motivation and joy and satisfaction, et al. i've post polio sequelae and now, after almost sixty years have freaquent episodes. weakness has greatly contributed to joint degeneration, arthritis and things of this ilk. i do things 15 - 20 minutes and go do something else ... read, knit. can't travel or garden anymore, but sure love quilting. i use my gardening kneeling pad to get down on the floor to pin my quilts [lap size limit now]; but, getting up is another matter. for me, doing things i love to do is my medicin!

    ReplyDelete
  64. Thank you for sharing Jeni! It was great to read your tips and techniques!

    ReplyDelete
  65. Superb post Jeni, very informative and well written. Best of all, I love your positivity in the face of adversity. You rock!!

    ReplyDelete
  66. I appreciate you doing this hugely and recognise many of the tips. I have had RSI for years- manageable but limiting, so I also use lots of breaks and as many gadgets that can help. Your honesty is commendable x

    ReplyDelete
  67. Great post, Jeni. As you can see from all the comments your honesty is very appreciated. I too have problems with my joints and already use some of your tips but some were new to me and I will definitely try them. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  68. Thank you for sharing all those great tips. Your honesty and generosity matches your creativity, Jeni. I think it's a good reminder for all of us to take as good care of our bodies while doing what we love. One of the things I do is making sure I have a good height for cutting and ironing. I use my kitchen bench and that makes my back happy. Please keep sharing good tools and tricks. You are an inspiration!
    ; )

    ReplyDelete
  69. Really informative post Jeni, when bloggers get hung up about follower numbers and page views it is reassuring to see the real value of blogging in action. Your work is always beautiful, but even more beautiful now that I realise how much effort is involved in producing it. Long may you continue to inspire and motivate the quilting community.

    ReplyDelete
  70. I'm sorry to hear you have arthritis to deal with but so glad you shared your tips for working around it. I've struggled with forearm tendonitis (RSI injury) for 3 years now plus arthritis in many joints. At first I thought I'd have to give up the crafts I love but by doing many of the things you do I've managed to carry on. It is so important to take breaks and to know what sets off problems and remember that it's better to stop for a bit than to carry on and hurt yourself. I have to remember to put on my wrist splints when rotary cutting as that really puts a strain on my wrists oh and too much computer time is a trigger too.

    Thank you for sharing this it's going to help a lot of people.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Thank you so much for being so honest and for so many helpful tips - most of which are relevant to those without health issues too. I have a severe Erb's palsy in my left arm (birth injury) but thankfully my mum was a nurse and did extensive physio on it when I was a child and as a result I have a much greater range of motion than many other sufferers. But I still have reduced motor function (can't raise my arm above shoulder height or fully extend my arm and I don't have good fine motor control in my fingers) and my left arm is a few inches shorter than my right. When I started quilting I ended up with terrible neck pain until I realised that I needed an arrangement that would work for me and reduce the strain on my left arm.
    As you so clearly demonstrate there is almost always a way to do what you love, even if you have to take it slow and find your own way!
    I'll definitely be trying out some of your tips. Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  72. Thanks for sharing your story and hints, I think you are doing a great job in writing about this "not sunny" topic in a very positive way. Life is not only easy and one shouldn't try to keep a sunny face, as if there were no problems at all, on the internet.
    My favorite quilting tool is quilting gloves because shifting that heavy quilt around under the machine made my shoulders hurt a lot. Now the grip I have is so much better and I can move my sandwich much easier.
    I am planning to make my own (because they are expensive here in Germany) by taking simple cotton gloves (for laboratory work or so) and dipping the fingertips in that "anti-slip" paint you can buy for selfmade socks etc. I hope this will do the job :)

    ReplyDelete
  73. Thanks for sharing this. I have a true cut rotary blade sharpeneer, they are not cheap but I sharpen my blade with it every few cuts and they seem to last a long time - I guess you must have them in the states, with the amount of cutting you do it might well be worth the investment!

    ReplyDelete
  74. Jeni, EXCELLENT POST!!!!!! PERFECT and thank you for taking the time to do it!!!!! THANK YOU <3

    ReplyDelete
  75. That post is not at all negative! It's very positive. It helps to know that everyone has their struggles and you're not alone. Your demonstration of how to cope with it and work through it is very helpful. It doesn't slow you down at all. You're quite an amazing person. Thx for sharing and I hope you never hesitate to.

    nicoleg0 at hotmail

    ReplyDelete
  76. Sharing is always good, thank you. Though not in your age range, I've had arthritis issues since I was young too. I find that being aware of weather changes is good so you can prepare, exercise is the best remedy for me personally. If I don't keep my blood circulating the pain is worse and I'm stiff as a board. Great tips, I'm sure they'll help lots of people not taking care while they're sewing.

    ReplyDelete
  77. Thank you for a great post. I, too, suffer from arthritis and your ways and suggestions are very helpful :)

    ReplyDelete
  78. Excellent post, great ideas and gentle reminders...arthritis won't stop us! :)

    ReplyDelete
  79. Lots of good ideas. I've linked it to my blog. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  80. Such a great post!! I, too have arthritis and find that getting up to iron (seams for instance) while sewing a wholebunch of little squares into twosies, (which is why I place my ironing board so I HAVE to get up out of the chair)is very helpful. Thanks--Julierose

    ReplyDelete
  81. You know, this is a great article. I was diagnosed with lupus five years ago (at a younger age) and it has since wreaked havoc in my body at almost every joint. I think the main point of what you said is take it easy. I LOVE to quilt, but it takes me two or three times longer to make a quilt than it does the "average" quilter (plus I have 4 young children, one disabled). Just take your time on things. Thanks for the post, as I think there are many quilters, young and older, with this issue.

    ReplyDelete
  82. A thoughtful and generous post. Thank you for sharing and inspiring, yet again :)

    ReplyDelete
  83. You are a true inspiration! Thank you for sharing this with us :-)

    ReplyDelete
  84. I'm soo sorry to hear about that :(
    I'm glad to hear that you have found some ways to make it more easy for you to sew !

    If I can recommend you something, it would be to read "Wheat belly" by William Davis. He talks a bit about arthritis in his book and how wheat can cause that..

    I think there are some great tips for all of us, even though we don't suffer from arthritis ! Thank you :)

    ReplyDelete
  85. I'm so glad that you have been able to overcome this with such grace, and producing such beautiful work! You are an inspiration! thanks for sharing with the community!

    ReplyDelete
  86. Thank you for sharing. I hve RA and feel all those things too. I pretty much deal with them the same way you do, however, I am way older. Life is good though in spite of that and we keep on going no matter what. You are right though, pacing yourself it the way to go.

    ReplyDelete
  87. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and how you've overcome your difficulties. It is very inspiring!
    A fellow Wisconsinite,
    Jane

    ReplyDelete
  88. Awesome post Jeni... you might want to invest in one of these:

    http://truecut.graceframe.com/cart/sharpeners/truesharp-power-sharpener-kit.html

    Since I go through one or two blades a week I discovered that it is much more cost efficient to sharpen my blades and get more use out of them than to buy new ones. Also True Grips for your ruler will help if you want to have non slippies... Hugs!

    ReplyDelete
  89. Jeni ~ I have to say that I admire your courage to talk about arthritis and how you deal with it.
    I have an autoimmune disease that makes me really tired easily and can't sew for as long as I'd like. Thank you so much for all your tips and positivity! You're awesome!

    ReplyDelete
  90. What a wonderful post ~ I to admire your courage ~ and thanks for all the tips and the positive thinking, yes, you are AWESOME!

    ReplyDelete
  91. What a fantastic post, Jeni. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  92. Thanks for sharing and for staying so positive... and for sharing all of your tips. I have really aggressive rheumatoid arthritis and find it interferes with my sewing quite a bit. Rotary cutting in particular has been really hard. I will try switching the type of cutter I am using! I'd love to continue to hear of any future tips you come across too!
    Thanks again for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  93. Thanks for the great tips! Im on the search for a kwik klip now!

    ReplyDelete
  94. Jen, I think sharing is part of blogging, Maureen C. has shared her story and one day I will share mine. Quilting is therapy, I have RA, Ankylosis spondylitis, several and autoimmune diseases, I even have 2 holes in my spine, I am looking at a wheelchair and use a cane. I recieve infusions for my RA, of Remicade which helps. I use several of your tips already, one I could suggest that I love and posted on my blog www.simplesew@blogspot.com is my frisker swing back sissors that keep the repetition off my fingers. They have them in small too which works great as even a seam ripper, and Large for cutting. Keep lots of projects going so I am not working on the same motion helps out too, Sewing for my family is rewarding and great for myself esteem. When I have to stay in bed, I tell myself, its ok... thats planning time. Keep it up Girl, none of us would have known the way you sew and blog.

    ReplyDelete
  95. Thank you Jenni for tackling this topic! I also struggle with arthritis and will be using some of your tips. I especially feel it in my wrists when I do a lot of rotary cutting and in my fingers when I am knitting or crocheting.

    ReplyDelete
  96. Thanks for your post. Since you were kind to mention favorite tools here is one I have found that really helps with my wrist and finger problems. I bought a Fiskars "Donna Dewberry" fabric cutter. This uses rotary cutting blades but with a platform and lines to measure your strips. It reminds me of a paper cutter and I can place my hand flat over the blade holder and push with my arm. I wish it were heavier and a bit more stable, but I had just started a quilt with hundreds of 1 1/2" strips so this has been great for all those small strips. I do not use it all the time but use it when I need lots of small strips. Grace & Peace.

    ReplyDelete
  97. As a knitter as well as a quilter, I've become very accustomed to listening to my hands and stopping when something becomes too much stress -- this post is a great reminder that other parts of me might also want to be catered to. And it's definitely not a downer: you've framed it very positively, and I'm sure there are loads of people out there who are happy to see that they're not alone.

    ReplyDelete
  98. Very inspirational post Jenny!!! thanks!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  99. Thank you for this, Jeni. I have arthritis in my shoulder and I have to pace myself with knitting and hand crafts because of it. This post is so inspiring and helpful. I always find it helpful to see the real in bloggers, if you know what I mean. Things aren't always pretty, and while keeping things positive is wonderful, sometimes it's good to get a peek at the not so positive to keep us grounded too. I have so much respect for you for writing this post.

    ReplyDelete
  100. Dear Jeni,
    I was a pediatric occupational therapist for years and through my education, learned about energy conservation techniques and ergonomics for people who have joint issues. This is post full of great information for everyone. I always love reading your posts when I receive them in the email, and this one is amazing.
    I wish you all the very best, always...and thank you again, for sharing such important information. I will need to link this on my blog and share it on facebook.
    I did recently order from a company TrueCut, here is a link for their ergonomic cutter (see down the page) http://www.graceframe.com/site/rotarycutting
    Thank you for sharing all the important points about posture, hand function/supports, rest, etc.
    You are always amazing.
    Best to you,
    Sondra

    ReplyDelete
  101. Hi Jeni. I really appreciate you doing this post. First, thanks for sharing this personal part of your life with your readers. I think many of us can relate. Doing to much with my hands (in crafting that would be cutting, ironing, basting and quilting) causes a lot of discomfort and I've got to monitor myself. Your tips are helpful and I'm going to check into some of your recommendations. And second, I have admired the amount of sewing and crafting that you accomplish and it's amazing to learn that you have done so much despite the inconvenience [to say the least] of arthritis. Truly admirable. Many best wishes.

    ReplyDelete
  102. What a great post Jeni!! Even though it's difficult, I think it's so important to share the side of ourselves that isn't picture perfect! How wonderful that you were able to that while giving so many great, helpful tips!! You are an inspiration to SO many!!!

    ReplyDelete
  103. Very informative post! Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  104. I have Lupus and therefore serious arthritis problems and am young as well. It is no fun feeling like you have a body that acts like it is 80 when you are 50-60 years younger. I think it is great that you shared this and I can sympathize with the pain you deal with every day. I often have to remind myself to listen to my body as well. I'm always pushing myself and saying "just one more" and then i regret it later when I can't open my hands without pain, etc. I'm definitely going to check out that basting tool as I struggle with pinning. Thanks for sharing and making us feel better about not being alone in our struggles!

    ReplyDelete
  105. I'm glad you wrote this post. I don't have arthritis, but I have other joint problems that affect my hands and wrists. I had trouble with my squeezy rotary cutter too, but I found using the little 'safety' locking button to lock the blade *out* worked well.

    I favour a heavy iron, because it does the work for me (I don't have to push down on it)!

    I use my knee to hold rulers, too! I rotary cut big things on the floor for exactly this reason - it's slightly more dignified than getting my leg on the table, but only slightly (arse in the air, anybody?).

    Thanks for the link to the Kwik Klip! That looks like a lifesaver!

    ReplyDelete
  106. Thanks so much for this post. Really encouraging.

    ReplyDelete
  107. Great post Jeni! So glad you've found ways to work through this because our little sewing world would be lost without you :) I'll definitely be using some of your tips here to combat my own wrist/hand issues :) xo

    ReplyDelete
  108. All great tips for anyone that is finding it a struggle with arthritis. And good help for those who want to lesson the repetitive motion problems in advance too possibly. I agree with walking around once every hour. That is my biggest problem because I don't do that yet know I should. Why? I have an internal fight all day long with myself about getting up and moving but then the other part of my brain yells at me that I am already in pain. I've got osteoarthritis in both my knees with no cartilage at all in either so the pain level is pretty much through the roof all the time. And after dealing with carpal tunnel syndrome for over 20 yrs I finally broke down and had surgery on both wrists because I developed trigger finger in both thumbs. Trigger finger is something you cannot put off. 24 hrs a day you are in tremendous pain that is not helped by any pain meds. So I had both surgeries on each hand 9 months apart. THEN I found I’ve developed arthritis in my left wrist. WHAT? Nothing before the surgery but now I have that to deal with. Ugh.

    Like you I have to pace myself with anything concerning the wrists. The biggest frustration with that is that I can't hold my 5 month old Granddaughter who just moved in with us and her parents for more than about 30 minutes and then the pain from doing so flares and continues for about 24 hours or more afterward. The ortho surgeon told said he can do give me a cortisone shot in that wrist BUT, added that he wants my husband there with me when he does because that spot is THE worst spot pain wise in the entire body to inject into with the cortisone even with the numbing stuff he puts on first. Well thanks doc! THAT makes me want to rush right in to get that one.

    I have the 60mm Olfa rotary cutter and love it. The handle you need to pull up is extremely smooth and causes no pain at all like others shaped the same way. And I love that when I let go the blade drops back and is automatically covered so there is no fear of me forgetting to push/pull the lever to cover the blade which for me is great since I won't have a fear of any grandchildren touching it if I've left it open. I had no idea the Fiskars blades were interchangeable with the Olfa cutters.

    Getting on the floor to pin a quilt? That just makes me cringe. LOL The Kwik Klip is awesome though. I LOVE mine. Once you get used to it that is a fabulous tool.

    I had no idea you were dealing with this pain too. It's nice to know I'm not alone. I also have fibromyalgia on top of the other pains so having a great office chair is a great thing to have. I never know which seated position from day to day will cause the least amount of pain so spending a bit more for a fully adjustable office chair was a must. My husband and I looked at all three of the big box office stores and found the best one for me ran about $300 sadly. BUT those others that run $100 or less usually didn't last much more than a year so spending $300 on a chair that so far, has lasted for almost six years was a bargain in my mind. When you decide to look for a good chair, consider one that has the (think it's called) 5 way adjustments. The seat adjusts back and forth and tilts up and down, arms adjust up and down as well as in and out, the back is adjustable back and forth and up and down too...and of course, the entire chair can be adjusted up and down. I never wanted one with a mid to high back and this one was considered a high back with head rest. What a difference! The head rest is adjustable up and down and also can tilt back and forth. I LOVE IT! If I want to rest a bit to watch a movie or something I can tilt my chair back and then use the head rest and elevate my legs to rest those also. Well worth the extra cost to buy a good chair with the adjustable support this has than to continue buying the cheap chairs.

    Great article though that you've written to help others. So many things I already do myself so I can agree with you.

    ReplyDelete
  109. Dear Jeni,
    Congratulations on writing that post. Surely it was difficult to do that but so many people will be helped by it. Our craft is a physical one and it's great to be reminded of that! You are a special person in this community. Keep up the great work.

    ReplyDelete
  110. I'm glad you've found ways to work around the pain, Jeni. <3

    ReplyDelete
  111. I'm not sure why so many quilting bloggers feel the need to apologize for posting about "real" stuff like this. Sure, no one wants to read a whiny blog, but the fact is that we don't all toot rainbows and butterflies, and stuff happens. I'm sure that for many people, this will be one of the most useful and helpful quilting posts they ever run across!

    ReplyDelete
  112. Love this post. I too suffer from chronic pain in the shoulders and back and it definitely affects my crafting work speed/load. And I also try to keep my comments on it under the radar for fear of sounding to whiny. But really, it seems like there are so many of us.

    You might also want to try this cutter:
    http://www.amazon.com/Martelli-Ergo-Rotary-Cutter--Right/dp/B003SBS7OO/ref=sr_1_9?s=arts-crafts&ie=UTF8&qid=1344023684&sr=1-9&keywords=ergonomic+rotary+cutter

    I found it really helped prevent aching hands, wrists and forearms. But mine broke after about a year's use. Not sure if that is what normally happens, but I'd like to try another one before discounting it as not durable.

    ReplyDelete
  113. I've only recently started having issues with the arthritis in my hands, so this article came at just the right time. Thanks for sharing your tools and tips - I'm going to start looking for some of the products you've mentioned.

    ReplyDelete
  114. Wonderful post - thank you! there's nothing wrong with a real life post. This was a useful post for me - I have trouble with m wrists when pressing down on the ruler, but it has never occured to me that part of the problem/solution might be to change my blade. I love to hand quilt, but I'm developing some arthritis in my hands now, and my fingers get stiff and loose their strength so I can't pull the needle out. My solution is to keep a pair of small pliers handy!

    ReplyDelete
  115. Jeni, so glad you shared this with us. Lots of good tips and reminders!
    I have found lately what makes me happier than more fabric is the right tools. I struggled with lighting and it was such a joy when I bought a new ott light (just wondered why I waited so long!!). It's so true about the blades too, sometimes I don't realize how dull it has gotten until my arm is shaking I am pushing so hard.
    I'm so glad you are finding ways to make it easier on you, I love reading your blog and you are such a fun and positive person :)

    ReplyDelete
  116. Great post, Jeni! I agree with so many others above that is is refreshing to hear bloggers talk about real life, mixed in with all the pretty fabric. :)

    ReplyDelete
  117. Great advice there. Although I don't have arthritis, I do have hypermobility syndrome which causes me a lot of joint problems, and I've frequently suffered from RSI issues. I once spent a month in plaster followed by 2 months in a brace simply from sorting entry forms for a regatta I was organising and flipping through them the same way for about 5 hours. Seriously nuts!

    I hadn't thought that about the blades before, but it totally made sense - off to stock up on plenty of blades...

    ReplyDelete
  118. A thank you to You Jeni for posting these tips. A light kicked on about the tip for the iron....mine is so heavy! never thought to get a lighter weight one til now! I have an arthritis/muscular dystrophy health challenge that keeps my body in a charlie horse 24/7. You do learn to listen to your body, find ways to adapt to those challenges and help others out...I also laugh at mine as I am often confronted as to why I walk so funny and I tell them I was only blessed with half of Betty Boops backside; one side swings while they other side stays still! The sewing machine plus company out of california has a sit-down model long arm quilt machine and that is on my list of things to get next (after my lightweight iron)! I also have to move from cutting, sewing, trim, ironing quite frequently to keep from getting stiff. When my quilt top gets heavy to keep it from falling off the sewing table I shortened a "fun noodle" to depth of the table, then cut a slit in it to fit at end of table and slid it on. This is not a sewing tip but a laundry one...we raised our dryer with wood table so when I bend to get clothing out it doesn't send me on down to the floor anymore! I use a canning lid magnet to pick up straight pins that might have fell on the floor. Thanks again Jeni.....Terre D.

    ReplyDelete
  119. What a blessing this post was! I have arthritis and many times it's a hindrance to me doing what I want to do. Your tool suggestions are a great help! I'm going to look into them! Thank you so much!

    ReplyDelete
  120. im all for upbeat blogs--but being real has its place too! i am currently 'undiagnosed' but i believe what i am experiencing is most likely arthritis in my hands.
    you've totally inspired me to keep my shears sharp, where my braces on my hands, and even do some exercises and icing!
    i found a tutorial about making a ice pack out of a diaper--sounds gross but it is totally cool.
    thanks for sharing--love your work and hope to see lots of it. take care.

    ReplyDelete
  121. Thanks for this post, Jeni! As an avid crafter with carpal tunnel syndrome I can definitely relate. Thanks for the tool suggestions! I've learned over time that the right tools can make all the difference!

    ReplyDelete
  122. What a wonderful post! One of the reasons I follow is because you are such a sunshiney person. I don't think you could be a downer if you tried, no matter what you talked about. I'm sorry that anyone has to suffer from RA, but it's clear you haven't let it stop you, and I appreciate as much as anything your putting that message out there.
    Love your work!! Carry On!!

    ReplyDelete
  123. Jeni - thanks so much for posting your suggestions as I have arthritis as well and these suggestions will be invaluable for me as well as others in a preventative way - quilting can be stressful on anyone's body - continue to take care - your quilt blog is one of my favourite

    ReplyDelete
  124. What a bummer about the Oliso! So you know what's excellent for ease on your wrist when you're quilting? Sending it to a longarm quilter. Hehe. :D Luckily mine is not severe and mostly bothers me in the cold winter months, but with it being so wet here, it does take its toll from time to time. I know as I age it's going to only get worse. I need to look up what oils are good for that and send some your way.

    ReplyDelete
  125. I don't know if you read all your comments, but I feel you were inspired to write about this. I deal with fibromyalgia. I have loved quilting for many years. I finally have the time and desire to start quilting for a business. I quilted yesterday until my body hurt. But I had this goal to have the quilt finished. Nothing seemed to work. I needed a reminder from someone that is in the business to tell me it's ok to take a 15 min break. Thank you. Ice packs and I will be good friends.

    ReplyDelete
  126. Wow, only just read this post Jeni. Very touching yet not depressing. I too have arthritis but luckily only in my knee (so far). Makes pin basting very painful. I agree with Christina (post 122), the long arm quilter is my greatest pain relief! As an aside, once I stopped taking all my medications, working hard at the gym and gave up seafood my pain seems to be better. I just try to ignore it now and and if it's really bad I rest. Hope they find a cure one day xx

    ReplyDelete
  127. Hi Jeni..what a wise post! I don't have arthritis but found what you have to say very interesting and informative. I love your hot pink iron too.

    ReplyDelete
  128. Wow! Thanks for all of the great tips! I'm going to change my blades right now. :)

    ReplyDelete
  129. What a fantastic post, thank you Jeni.

    ReplyDelete
  130. Great post. FWIW I had the same experience with my Oliso iron. Wish I didn't because I liked it. My new much cheaper one gets hotter and presses better though.

    Preventing injury is important in all things even quilting. Thanks for the reminder.

    ReplyDelete
  131. THANK YOU!!! "Going public" isn't easy and you did it in such a perfect way.

    I have lupus and everything that goes with it, including arthritis, and often struggle with pain, discomfort, exhaustion and the things that get in the way of being creative. Your tips are excellent and I learned some new things here. I appreciate your frankness and openness about your arthritis and wish you good health.

    Could I post a link to this from my lupus blog please???

    ReplyDelete
  132. Hello no your comments weren't depressing as a fellow suffering, not so much with arthritis that s in only finger, but with an permanent injury to my right arm & shoulder as well as lower ack injury. I have similar problems with sanding cutting and using the sewing machine. So to realise someone who produces so much is quite inspirational!

    ReplyDelete
  133. Thank you so much for this post! I am amazed at how productive you are. I am young and struggle myself and it is (perversely) good to hear I am not alone. The tips and comments are great and are driving it home that I really need to work out :-). My tip - I stop constantly to remove my shoulders from my ears. The focus and strain of working makes my shoulders tighten and creep upwards, causing neck pain a few hours later. I've also been told to set a timer for breaks.

    ReplyDelete
  134. This is such a wonderful post Jeni. With all that you accomplish no one would have ever guessed. I'm glad that you have found ways to still do what you enjoy. I too have carpel tunnel plus tendonitis in my hands, used to be a serious cake decorator but thankfully found quilting which doesn't hurt me nearly as much.

    The rotating mat is wonderful. I highly recommend it. As for chairs, I hunted for a long time to find the right one, I am small framed and short too, and came across this one at Office Max, on sale one day for $50 http://www.officemax.com/office-furniture/chairs/product-prod4070124?history=kgn9f27n|categoryId~10001^categoryName~Office+Furniture^parentCategoryID~category_root@x9ri8q9e|categoryId~25^categoryName~Chairs^parentCategoryID~cat_10001@dlsge1v6|prodPage~15^refine~1^region~1@lvzg1472|prodPage~90^refine~1^position~1^region~1@a3v6559m|prodPage~90^refine~1^position~91^region~1@lk4voqdp|refineName~Chair+Type^prodPage~15^refine~1^sub_attr_name~1^region~1^refineValue~Task@29lrkt5e|refineName~Color^prodPage~15^refine~1^sub_attr_name~1^region~1^refineValue~Black@hl51kfw0|prodPage~91^refine~1^position~1^region~1. It is on their website now for $39.99. it is perfect, great back and seat support and nicely adjustable. Plus you can't beat the price over the other fancy chairs. Check it out.

    ReplyDelete
  135. Thank you for your generous post. I think ergonomics are something we should all be concerned about regardless of our health or diagnoses.

    ReplyDelete
  136. Thank you, Jeni, for the great post!!! I personally don't have arthritis, but my husband and one of my sons do, both since they were little. What I've learned is that whether or not one has arthritis, it is still important to use good body mechanics to protect yourself. Your article gives TONS of great tips for all of us! What a great, positive article!

    ReplyDelete
  137. I haven't had trouble with my wrists -- yet! -- but I've only been doing free motion quilting for a couple of months, and I do have terrible arthritis in my knees, shoulder, and most annoying, my left elbow. Now if my wrists start bothering me, I know exactly which brace to get! Too bad we can't quilt underwater -- it would be so much easier on our joints... ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  138. Jeni you shared this in such a perfect way. Letting us know what you are going through and offering guidance for others. I hope you are able to continue with your work without pain for years to come.

    ReplyDelete
  139. This is great advice! The ergo aspects of sewing are not to be overlooked! Thank you for sharing your experience and what has worked for you :-)

    ReplyDelete
  140. I definitely use my knee when I'm cutting my fabric too! It's there for a reason, right?

    ReplyDelete
  141. Love this post Jeni! Its not nothing negative to post about something so real so don't apologize for it. You have a well written post that a lot of others out there can relate to. I just feel for ya, that you have to suffer from arthritis at such a young age.
    Glad that you put a positive introspect on a horrible situation.

    ReplyDelete
  142. i think it is great you discussed this, it is a reminder to take care of our bodies and be smart, so we can continue to do what we love!! thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  143. Thank you for sharing this...I somehow missed this posting and was just going back to see what great things I missed from you! ha ha....I think there are more of us who suffer than we let on! Most of us have just learned to work around it and count each day we can do our craft as a blessing. Never does a day go by where I don't say my thanks!
    I like to turn my negatives into positives! I need that balance! I think we each need to do that, make it work for each of us individually!

    Thank you for sharing, makes the rest of us feel not
    so alone! Valerie

    ReplyDelete
  144. Great post on very matter of fact ways of sewing safely!

    ReplyDelete
  145. Thank you!! for the tips. I have arithitis as well and I only sew/craft/prep in spans of an hour or less. Your tips will help me. Thank you for being so kind and generous to share that you have arithitis. It was very brave.

    ReplyDelete
  146. This has some of the best ideas I've ever read. Using a new blade was such a simple thing, yet I find myself stretching that blade's use until I'm sore from pushing down. Geez! So simple. Thanks for so many great ideas to help keep on sewing.

    ReplyDelete
  147. Thanks so much for sharing. I have arthritis in my hands and these ideas sound great. I think several will make a huge difference. I can't wait to try them out. Thanks again for some excellent advice.

    ReplyDelete
  148. Thanks for posting this Jeni - I think a lot of us have health/body issues that can interfere with our passion - it's nice to know I'm not the only one (I have some back problems that aren't especially fond of sewing) and to have some new tips to try to limit the strain. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  149. Thank you for posting this. I have arthritis and have had it since I was a teenager. It is worst in my hands. I also knit, embroider, and now, quilt. A big fear of mine is not being able to do these things. I thought I was the only person under 6o with this problem. Thank you for sharing and letting me know I'm not alone!

    ReplyDelete
  150. I think you are amazing. So much talent and so very productive. Actually I am stunned to read this thinking about how much you accomplish. You'll be in my prayers - for comfort especially.
    xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  151. Thanks for posting this. I think it's not negative but a great post that can help a lot of people. i also suffer from cervical arthritis and have to be careful when sewing and quilting to keep straight and not bend too much my neck and remeber to do my exercises-
    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  152. I'm not sure if I commented on this before, but I wanted to be sure to say this. Thanks! :) I've just been diagnosed with carpel tunnel and I sew like crazy and work at a book store. Not a good combination. I have the super sexy ace wrist support - and I'll be putting it on top of my quilting gloves next time I finish a quilt! :) Thanks for the tips; I hope you have lots of pain free sewing!

    ReplyDelete
  153. What a great article! The tips you gave were super simple and easily added into any craft room. Keep up the wonderful work blogging and crafting!

    ReplyDelete
  154. Thank you so much for all of your great suggestions Jeni! Sewing can be so hard on anyone's body and I think it's very notable of you to stand up and admit just what a struggle it can be sometimes. It's nice to know we all face challenges being a quilter but there are ways to work through it! I'm working on a new craft room myself and I will definitely take many of your points into play. Thanks again

    ReplyDelete
  155. Oh, Jeni! Thank you so much for this post!! I've always been so impressed and inspired by you, but felt like I could never do as much as you. Maybe it sounds silly. But I have chronic pain from endometriosis, and I just don't get done what I'd like.

    I'm so encouraged to hear that you have a chronic problem as well and you can still work so hard at home. Like you, I don't work outside my home and I don't have kids (just spoiled cats- I know you know all about spoiled pets! ;))

    Your tips would be helpful to anyone, but especially those of us with health problems. I'm inspired to really apply myself to my craft and figure out what I can do to spend more time doing what I love!

    I know it must have been hard to share such personal stuff. But I appreciate your vulnerability here and I can see that so many others do too. I also love that you are so positive. You don't want to focus on your challenges, you want people to see what you can do, not what's "wrong" with you!

    ReplyDelete
  156. Quite late to this post, but I thought I'd chime in. I have tendinitis in my wrists and hands, and so many of your tips are helpful! The worst for me is detail work (especially turning tubes of fabric for straps, though I finally got a tool that makes this much easier, and applique). And ripping. My hands ache like crazy if I have to rip more than a few inches of thread. Thanks for sharing your struggle -- you're not alone! :)

    ReplyDelete
  157. Thank you so much for this post Jeni - definitely valuable information for everyone. It doesn't take long to notice repetitive strain issues, and a pre-exixting condition like arthritis would certainly make it even more noticeable. I appreciate you sharing your personal struggles, as I am sure everyone does. (And sorry I am so late to comment!)

    ReplyDelete
  158. Hello! I've been silently following your blog for a very long time now, and I just want to say I love it. I love all the positive vibe that comes off from it, the bright colours, the mixing of them. The sweet quilts and so forth! It's just wonderful.

    I have a friend who also got arthritis when she was quite young, I know she suffers - she can barely move her wrist anymore. Although she's not a crafter or an artist, this was a sweet read for me. Thank you for writing about it!

    ReplyDelete
  159. i love blogs that are authentic. i'm really glad you shared more of how you adapt to crafting with arthritis. i have *very* weak wrists and thumbs which affects my ability to quilt also. my wrist and thumb supports were made by an OT and are just about as sexy as the ace style ones :) maybe sometime i'll post pics of them. unfortunately i often choose not to use them and just deal with pain and further weakness. i usually choose to do straight line quilting with my walking foot or i rent time on a long arm machine instead of wrestling with free motion quilting with my old machine. anyway, i'm off topic but your post really made me think today. i hope you are well :)

    ReplyDelete
  160. Thanks for sharing, some great tips and beautiful colours!

    ReplyDelete
  161. Thank you so much for this post. I have been in pain for years and was told not to sew. I recently found out it's Lupus related arthritis and I can sew now (as it's not from repetitive motion). Seeing someone who is so productive and creates such beautiful things, while having an auto0immune condition is inspiring.
    XOXO,
    Lynsey Ruml

    ReplyDelete
  162. I just Pinned this excellent article on Pinterest under sewing.

    ReplyDelete
  163. I just found your article on Sewing Tips with arthritis and wanted to say that sew much of your advice is good for all sewists and quilters. Thanks for sharing your experience and the wonderful and thorough advice you shared. Good for you! Judie

    ReplyDelete
  164. For Quilters, sewing enthusiast and crafters alike. I just received this unsolicited e-mail and as per Linda's request I am sharing this information. If you would like to contact me, my e-mail is sandy@ssndesigns.com I hope this helps.

    Happy Sewing
    Sandy
    The Hump Jump Lady
    www.ssndesigns.com

    SANDY, I JUST NEED TO THANK YOU FOR MAKING THE “PUTS IT” AVAILABLE TO QUILTERS. I HAVE RHEUMATOID ARTHRITIS AND ALWAYS HAVE SUCH DIFFICULTY PUTTING THE NEEDLE IN MY SEWING MACHINE OR SERGER. A FRIEND GAVE ME THE PUTS IT THE OTHER DAY AFTER SHE HAD FOUND IT ON THE INTERNET! WHAT A GOD SEND! I JUST CHANGED MY NEEDLE WITH NO PROBLEM IN A COUPLE OF MINUTES!!!! I THINK IT WOULD BE A GREAT IDEA TO ADVERTISE YOUR PUTS IT IN SOME OF THE ARTHRITIS MAGAZINE AND EVEN LET THE ARTHRITIS FOUNDATION KNOW ABOUT IT. THERE ARE MANY OF US, WHO HAVE SUCH DEXITARITY PROBLEMS, I’M SURE THEY WOULD BE INTERESTED! THANKS AGAIN, LINDA

    ReplyDelete
  165. Wow, a lot of people commented on here, which is great. I want to thank you for being honest, and for your tips. I'm not a sewer, but I run a small company where everything I make is handmade and custom made. I suffer from not only arthritis, but a myriad of back and neck problems that make crafting very hard on my body. I'm sorry you suffer from arthritis too, but I think it's great you are able to do as much as you do!! I had to cut back about 80% on crafting and it brings me down a lot. Living with severe chronic pain is difficult for people to understand.....that even holding and cutting with your scissors can hurt. thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  166. Thank you for this post! I am 23 and struggle with arthritis and fibromyalgia, and additional pain related to other medical issues. I love quilting and had never had a problem until this summer. I decided to machine quilt 2 quilts in the same month and it killed my wrists and forearms. I now know to take things slow, even though I get super excited to finish!

    ReplyDelete
  167. I also found if you arthritis in your hands and wrists knitting sucks! If you have tips for that I would greatly appreciate it!

    ReplyDelete
  168. Great article! I think the most important thing people with arthritis can do is listen to our bodies. At 61 years old I have that part ingrained now. Don't we ALL learn the hard way thank you!

    SueAnn

    ReplyDelete
  169. I was diagnosed with arthritis and fibromyalgia when I was 15. I mostly have pain in my knees and hips, which makes sitting and sewing for long periods of time painful, but luckily, I play the piano so my fingers and hands are still in pretty good shape. It has been very difficult for me to deal with this pain because I have always loved sewing and crafting. Knowing that there are others that are going through the same thing really means a lot to me. Thank you so much for this article.

    ReplyDelete
  170. This is a great post. It's very difficult to cross that line into explaining what is really going on with you. I have found that probably one of the hardest things about having a chronic pain disease. Also when you are young(ish) people assume that there is nothing wrong with you when really you could just collapse there and then! I only started telling people what was going on with me about a year ago. I don't know what I was afraid of. I don't like to complain but it got to the stage where it impacted on what I could manage and so on. Well done again on your great tips.

    ReplyDelete
  171. Jeni, thanks for sharing. I think its very important for all of us to listen to our bodies. I am in my thirties and have only started listening to my body properly recently. I too suffer arthritis and have since being a teenager. It does make a huge difference to pace oneself and vary activities with some rest in between.
    I have just discovered your blog and think it is wonderful. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge. Stef

    ReplyDelete
  172. This post comes at such an opportune time. Can't believe I missed it the first time around. I am currently struggling with severe tendinitis in my right (dominant) hand. I know it comes from years of doing medical transcription, and then quilting in my free time just aggravates it. So frustrating. All your hints/tips are great. Listening to your body is so important, even when it is telling you something you don't want to hear.

    ReplyDelete
  173. I have a hard time sewing because of an Arthritic type illness called Ehlers-Danlos. Frequently my hands aches and swell. Thank you for the great advice and article. I also wanted to mention a great product I use all the time for mending buttons and carry it with me all the time in my purse. It's called U-Fix (u-fix.ca). It looks like thread after you use it, plus they stay in.

    ReplyDelete
  174. Thank you so much for your post. I have all these arthritis syndrome ailments. My hands ae becoming more compromised. I am thinking of getting a scizzik to help me with the cutting. Jenny Doan mentioned that they have many quilting templates. Your post was not at all negative. They message clearly is get busy making that lemonade and enjoy yourself while taking care of yourself! Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  175. Hi Jeni, I have Still's Disease - it is equated with JRA when you get it as an adult. I have just started quilting and wanted to THANK YOU for your very timely post (I know you wrote it last year, but I just found you via an Aurifil/MrsSewandSow post on Facebook)!

    Balance is key. Happy Quilting!

    ReplyDelete
  176. Thank you for sharing Jeni! It was great to read your tips and techniques. I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis about 7 years ago. I also need to listen to my body and know when to stop and rest. Sometimes I get all involved with what I'm doing and I end up paying for it later. I think I might try the Gypsy Gripper as I can't put any pressure on my knees and couldn't get them up on the table anyway! I am just getting into FMQ so I think I might try the Grabaroo's quilting gloves as well. I'm off to change my blade... Thanks again!

    ReplyDelete
  177. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  178. Hi Jeni, I just read your post. There are so many of us that struggle with health issues who find quilting to be both a balm and a contributor to our issues - the key is finding balance, as with everything! Thank you for this post. Bless you!!

    ReplyDelete
  179. I know this was not an easy topic to approach,,,that took a lot of courage sweets. I try to remember why I am quilting, sewing, knitting....fortunate that I have many things that make me feel so happy! And some days, I just read blogs and look at beautiful ideas, fabrics and projects! (that makes me happy too!)
    I think your post does remind some of us to do what we can to make things easier on our bodies. Great ideas too, except that knee thing...no way I could manage that! :o)
    Btw, I do all my machine quilting on my bar height table, standing up. (about 20min is all I can handle)
    Thanks again for the very thoughtful post Jeni. You have a wonderful, caring heart! (and your blog is quite charming too)

    ReplyDelete
  180. Rosemary B here:
    I just found this today. Just read the whole thing.
    You are a dear friend on the internet. I value your knowledge creativity and enthusiasm.
    Thank you for sharing this -- we all have a cross to bear. It is part of being alive. the fact that your arthritis has been identified and you are coping with it in a conscious way is a good thing. as an olden orthopaedic nurse, I have to commend you on your ideas and tips. all of them are good.
    I am so happy I found your blog years ago, you have been such an inspiration to me. I will not drone on and on, but just know that sharing our weaknesses is a good thing. It announces that we are not perfect, and those that have weaknesses in other areas will feel strength from you.
    Love always, Rosemary
    ps: i am taking care of my elderly (90) parents for the past year. They live one mile from my house, so my internet time is limited. I fit my sewing in every day (even if it is just cleaning my machines or playing with my stash)
    So this is why I just found this wonderful heartfelt post.
    God Bless you

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for keeping this blog a positive place, I appreciate the time you're taking to leave a comment! I'll answer all questions here in the comments section!