As I’ve said, I get wonderful notes every day. It’s definitely one of my favorite parts of this blog. Recently, I shared with you some comments that were especially encouraging for all of us. Today, I’d like to share an email. Carolyn wrote to share how she has adapted to be able to continue her beloved work: sewing. I asked her to add a little more and soon we had a guest blog! Thank you, Carolyn.
Deciding that slow is fast enough with RA
Sewing isn’t essential to most RA warriors, but for me it is part of who I am. All my life I’ve sewn. Sewing has been more than a hobby… it’s part of who I am. As my fingers froze and refused to move, I almost gave up and depression became a constant fight. My mother had RA and stopped sewing entirely. She even refused to talk about it. When the only joint on my fingers that would move was the one near my nails, I thought my sewing days were over. I decided to at least teach what I knew to anyone who wanted to learn.
However, in teaching, I couldn’t stay away from the machine. I discovered I could straight stitch my Bernina machine for limited periods of time. Here are a few of the things that help me. Slowly, I experimented with the tools I already had. One rotary cutter (like a pizza cutter) worked, but another didn’t. I also found out new sharp blades made a big difference. I started cutting just straight pieces of fabric and making small quilts. It might take two weeks to cut the pieces, but eventually it got done.
Again it is slow, but I could do it. In January, our first great grandbaby is due. I’m trying to make a baby bunting at the moment. It is hard, but slowly piece by piece it is coming together. Maybe my daughter will finish the handsewing. It is such a joy for me to find ways to continue what I love doing.
Searching for simple solutions with RA
I decided to find more simple solutions since I had a lot more equipment than the average seamstress has.
- Threading a needle is a real challenge when you have trouble holding the thread. So the pictures show how I use a long pair of tweezers to thread the needle. I use long tweezers which can be bought at hobby or sewing stores. The tweezers hold the thread: it doesn’t take as much hand strength to pinch my long tweezers as my small ones, and it holds the thread in place so I can get it through the eye of the needle.
- I found a small travel iron to use. Most irons too heavy for RA people to manage very well.
- Cutting fabric seemed impossible. I had two different rotary cutters. Then, I experimented with using a curved plastic ruler and the rotary cutter. When I tried using each one, I found I could get enough leverage with my Fiskars brand one. As long as I keep sharp (fresh) blades in the rotary cutter, I am able to cut out what I want using a plastic ruler along with the rotary cutter. Since lack of strength is again an issue, the sharp blades make all the difference in success and failure. When I need help, my husband is willing to do cutting for me. I couldn’t manage without him. He is my special blessing.
- Stiff fingers have an awful time keeping layers of fabric evenly together and moving under the needle straight. I have started using a bamboo skewer to do both these tasks. The bamboo stick holds the fabric in place as it runs through the machine. The skewers are available in the grocery store. I seldom pin. You know how hard pins are to pick up & maneuver! Using the skewer, I can control the fabric better & keep the layers together without pins.
I hope we all will look at tasks in a different way and see if we can help one another continue doing the things we love. Don’t give up. It might take a little longer. It might not be easy. The results might not be quite as good as you used to be able to achieve, but the goal isn’t perfection. The goal is to keep living a good life no matter what our physical condition.
- 6 Ways to Get Hard Projects Done with Rheumatoid Arthritis
- The “Can’t” Question with Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Tony Snow: Illness Doesn’t Change the Person You Are