Interruptions are part of life…quilters’ hands

I once had a wise spiritual ‘entity’ tell me not to get so disturbed about interruptions, because interruptions are part of life and are what make your life.  I guess it really is the old saying that life is what happens while you are making plans.  Often, life just gives you time to think, so you will stop and pay attention.  And sometimes, there is just no explanation…now.  But for me right now, the explanation is that I need to pay attention and change my ways…my quilting ways.

Apparently, hand issues are a common problem for quilters.  My hands have been bothering me this year, particularly the last couple of months.  I am not one to trot off to the doctor, but the other day after squaring two quilts I decided to have my hands checked out, just so I can confirm the issue.  That’s in the future.

However, in the meantime I’ll fix it myself.  I reviewed my tools.  My rotary cutters, as most rotary cutters, do not have an optimal hand position.  The wrist is turned and the pressure is indirect, placing pressure on the wrist and/or sometimes coming from the index finger.  Also, I’ll confess that I let my blades get a tiche too dull, because I’m…frugal. Consequently, cutting through two fabrics and batting takes too much pressure.  So that’s it for the right hand.  My rulers, although with a plastic coating to stick, still require an excessive amount of pressure to stay in place, wrist bent, fingers splayed.  This is the issue for the left hand, the worse hand, oddly enough.

IMG_4316 IMG_4319

Then there is the longarm, but I’ve previously adapted my position on this for my hands: This way:   IMG_4322    Not this way:     IMG_4320 So I don’t think the longarm is a major issue directly for my hands.  But if you disagree and have a better position, please let me know.

Once I started thinking about hand positions, I started thinking about everything I do: opening doors, jars, lifting, twisting and so forth.  I really mistreat my thumbs and wrists particularly.  I am changing my ways!  B’s hands once got so bad from playing the piano that he couldn’t even button his shirt.  He learned a different way to play the piano and his hands are fine now.  Lesson learned!

However, let’s also talk about posture.  Quilters/sewists can lapse into hunching over the cutting table, the sewing machine, the computer, and the longarm.  Neck positions or misalignment can cause referred pain in the hands.  When I have pain anywhere the main culprits seem to be the core muscles.  I turn to the Core Program by Peggy W. Brill, P.T.  Obviously, if I were consistent and always completed her recommended exercises I’d be better off, but that would be too logical.  Already after three days, my hands and posture are better/stronger.

I’ve purchased a new ruler, rotary cutter and mat from as they address ergonomics and quilting issues.  I can’t wait for their arrival so I can test them.  I’ll critique them in another blog post.  In the meantime, I’ll keep adjusting my form and paying attention.  Happy Quilting.



About quiltify

Crazy about functional art: quilting; travel, family, and New England.
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2 Responses to Interruptions are part of life…quilters’ hands

  1. Along with the changes that you have made re your hands, I have also started wearing a brace at night for my offending wrist and also Vitamin B6 which helps reduce the inflammation associated with carpal tunnel. It looks like we have the same machine and I am very careful to keep my wrists in a neutral position as much as possible as well as keeping the rails super clean if you don’t have the bliss system and of course not quilting for hours without resting and stretching excercises. Oh I find that doing some weights has helped as well.

  2. quiltify says:

    Thanks! I will incorporate your recommendations into my ‘system’. Who would have thought this would be such an issue? Not me!

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