Thursday, August 2, 2012
Safe Sewing: Crafting with Arthritis
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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 :)