The act of quilting puts great pressure and strain on two parts of your body — your hands and your eyes.
Quilting includes working with delicate pins, threads, and fabrics. You have to thread lots of needles, work on tiny details with a lot of focus, and perform other vision-intensive activities. You also have to work with your hands a lot, especially while sewing. Furthermore, sewing machines also generate a lot of vibrations, which can place great pressure on your hands.
As such, people who quilt often need to take a break to rest their arms or eyes. As such, the act of quilting is especially hard for people who have arthritis or poor eyesight. If you have arthritis or weak eyesight, the act of quilting may even worsen your condition.
However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the wonders of quilting at all. Far from it! You just have to be a lot more careful. There are a lot of accessibility tools available, such as ergonomic sewing machines, magnifying lenses, and automatic threaders that can make your life a whole lot easier.
Accessible Quilting Tools for Quilters with Arthritis or Poor Eyesight
Table of Contents
- 1 Accessible Quilting Tools for Quilters with Arthritis or Poor Eyesight
- 2 Quilting with Arthritis
- 3 Best Tools for Quilters with Arthritis
- 4 Quilting with Weak Eyesight
- 5 Best Tools for Quilters with Weak Eyesight
- 5.1 1. Stella Lighting LED Task Lamp
- 5.2 2. MagniPros LED Illuminated Headband Magnifier Visor
- 5.3 3. Mag Eyes Magnifier
- 5.4 4. Carson Optical Pro Series MagniVisor
- 5.5 5. Donegan DA-5 OptiVisor Headband Magnifier
- 5.6 3. Carson Clip and Flip Magnifying Lenses
- 5.7 6. SINGER Needle Threader Assistant
- 5.8 7. CLOVER 4071 Desk Needle Threader
- 6 Wrapping Up!
In this article, we give you some valuable tips on how to quilt if you have arthritis or weak eyesight. We also review some of the most useful accessibility quilting tools for individuals with arthritis or poor vision.
Quilting with Arthritis
Tips for Quilters with Arthritis
Arthritis is a condition in which your wrists, hands, feet, and knees hurt and ache, which means you can’t use these parts of your bodies actively. Incidentally, the act of quilting mostly involves the use of wrists and hands, so that’s a bummer! People with arthritis need to pace themselves while sewing and quilting. The following are some tips and strategies on how to protect yourself while quilting.
You must store all of your containers and storage tools under your sewing cabinet or within easy reach. The aim is to ensure that they’re within reach, so you don’t have to carry them extensively. Furthermore, instead of using large storage containers that can hold lots of materials, you should use lots of small or medium-sized storage containers. People with arthritis have trouble lifting, so make sure the containers are lightly-packed. You should also keep most of your storage containers and material on eye-level, so you don’t have to lift them much.
Cutting fabric is one of the most difficult tasks for arthritic individuals. Handling rotary cutters is often difficult because of their metallic bodies, which places greater pressure on your wrists. You must purchase ergonomic rotary cutters instead of metallic ones. Another aspect of cutting that can strain your wrists is holding the acrylic ruler in place. Instead of holding it in place with your bare hands, you can find ergonomic grippers that aid you. You should also change your rotary cutter blades often to ensure they’re smooth — older blades are harder to cut with.
Ironing is a strenuous activity for people with arthritis because holding and lifting an iron for extended periods can be difficult. The biggest factor to consider when ironing is the weight of the iron. Instead of choosing highly-functional but heavy irons, you must choose a lightweight iron. The lighter, the better. Furthermore, if you have to iron lots of fabric, don’t do so at a single stretch. Take a break after every five minutes or ten minutes, whatever you’re comfortable with.
You must ensure that your sewing machine is kept at an even height with your body. You should get an adjustable sewing cabinet, so you can adjust the height. If you don’t have an adjustable table or sewing machine, you can also sit on some cushions or pillows to bring yourself to the right level. You must get a computerized sewing machine that doesn’t vibrate a lot because that will fatigue your wrists faster. Furthermore, your chair should have proper back support, allowing you to sit comfortably for long periods.
Basting can be a painful activity because you have to be on your hands and knees to apply pins or remove pins from your quilt. The act of removing pins is especially painful because you have to reach for it with your fingers or nails, which leads to chipped nails and hurt wrists. Instead of using your hands, get a basting tool that allows you to smoothly remove and attach pins. If you can’t baste on your floors, you can also baste on a sewing cabinet or table.
People with arthritis run into trouble both while performing free-motion or straight-line quilting. As such, while quilting, you should always wear a brace. Use an ergonomic hand brace that keeps your hands stable and minimizes the impact of quilting and sewing.
You may also want to wear quilting gloves under the brace to enhance the strength of your grip. It may be uncomfortable to wear such gear initially, but they’ll protect your hands and prevent arthritis from worsening. You should also take lots of breaks between your quilting sessions to give your hands enough time to recover.
People with arthritis don’t always have a problem with handwork, like embroidery. However, you should implement general advice for all arthritic individuals — take it easy and don’t work your wrists for long periods. Only work on your quilting project for as long as you’re comfortable. You can also try to shake up your activities. Repetition is one of the greatest offenders. If you find that your wrists are tired of sewing, you can put that aside and start ironing for a while. If you get tired again, maybe you can start basting. Instead of completing a single task entirely before moving on to the next, try to perform different activities in pieces.
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Best Tools for Quilters with Arthritis
Olfa Quick Change Rotary Cutter is the best rotary cutter for people with arthritis because it has an easy-to-use and ergonomically-designed handle. The anti-slip contour handle ensures that you can hold it for long periods without hurting your hands.
It also comes with an independent blade cover for right and left-hand use. You can get this rotary cutter with a 45mm or 60mm blade, which can cut through over six layers of fabric at once. As such, this rotary cutter allows you to easily slice through all the fabric you want without applying pressure.
This rotary cutter is also extremely easy to operate, and you can change the blade without any difficulty. This Olfa rotary cutter measures 4.5” x 1” x 8.7”, and it weighs only 0.32 ounces.
Gypsy Gripper is one of the most innovative products designed for individuals with arthritis. People with arthritis suffer while performing simple activities that others take for granted, such as holding the rulers or sheets in place while cutting. That’s where the Gypsy Gripper comes in.
This device is made of a comfortable and ergonomically-designed handle with two large suction cups. You have to simply press the suction cups over the plastic ruler, and then trigger the release levers to lock it in place, allowing you to smoothly work on 4” wide smooth surface rulers. This device measures 4” x 3.6” x 12”, and it only weighs 14.4 ounces.
Muzper Sewing Machine is one of the best ergonomic sewing machines for people with arthritis. Using sewing machines poses a wide range of challenges for individuals with arthritis because of the constant vibrations of the machine. That’s why the Muzper sewing machine has been designed to eliminate or at least minimize vibrations, ensuring that it functions smoothly without incidence.
This is an extremely portable sewing machine that you can also carry around your house wherever you want because it only weighs 4.85 pounds. This sewing machine also includes 12 integrated stitches that include some basics, decorative stitches, stretch, and buttonholes, which is enough for most of your basic quilting needs.
Janome TS200Q is one of the best computerized sewing machines. This sewing machine weighs 20.6 pounds, but it has a lot of features that optimize the sewing process and minimize strain. It has easy convenience buttons with which you can start/stop sewing without complications.
The sewing machine also includes an easy automatic needle threader, with which you don’t have to struggle to thread the needle. All things considered, Janome TS200Q makes the sewing process really easy.
Tearing off loose seams can be extremely difficult because you have to use your fingers and apply great pressure. However, ripping seams is a breeze with the Ergonomic Grip Seam Ripper. This is an ergonomically-designed tool with which you can smoothly remove clothing tags, stray pieces of threads, or loose seams. The silicone handle is easy to handle and available in several bright colors. As such, the Ergonomic Grip Seam Ripper is a must-have device for all quilters with arthritis.
In fact, it’s even ideal for those who don’t have arthritis but are tired of dealing with all of those seams!
Sunbeam Classic iron is the ideal non-stick iron for people with arthritis because it’s incredibly functional, but also lightweight. This iron measures 5.6” x 11.6” x 6.3” and only weighs 2.7 pounds. That’s still heavy enough to cause some distress if you have to carry it long distances. However, if you keep the iron in its designated space on the ironing board, you won’t have any trouble using it.
This iron also includes a shot-of-steam feature with which it exudes a burst of steam to get your clothes extra crispy. You can also use the shot-of-steam feature to steam your hanging clothes. Furthermore, the 30-minutes auto-off feature ensures safety, in case you forget to turn the iron off.
Paula Jean Kwip Klip is the ideal tool to accompany you in all of those strenuous basting moments. Basting is particularly challenging for people with arthritis because you have to use your fingers to open up pins, remove them, and perform other such wrist-intensive activities.
Basting doesn’t just lead to wrist pain but also chipped nails and other issues. However, the Kwip Klip is a tool that prevents all of those issues by effectively and quickly removing pins. As such, it increases the effectiveness of basting and also prevents bunching. While it’s ideal for people with arthritis, it can and should be used by all basters.
ACE Deluxe Wrist Stabilizer is one of the best hand braces for people suffering from arthritis. This hand brace doesn’t provide any functions specific to quilting, but it can generally help people with arthritis with all of their activities. This wrist stabilizer features a hand brace with elastic bandages that keep your wrist steady, allowing you to perform different activities without tremors.
Furthermore, the hand brace also diffuses the impact of those activities upon your wrist joints, which minimizes wrist pain.
Quilting with Weak Eyesight
Tips for Quilters with Weak Eyesight
Quilting is insanely difficult if you have poor vision. You have to strain your eyes greatly to thread your needles, apply pins, and perform all other quilting activities. Unfortunately, there’s a great dearth of resources online for how people with weak eyesight should go about quilting and sewing. For the purpose of this article, we’ve heard from various quilters with a poor vision on how they perform quilting.
Nothing is quite as important as lighting when it comes to quilting. Even individuals with perfect vision need optimal lighting to enhance their productivity. But that holds even more true for those who have poor vision. You need as much lighting as possible. Place your sewing station in a room with lots of natural lighting. You must also ensure that the light doesn’t shine directly into your eyes — it should fall over your work from behind your shoulders. As such, you should sit with your back to the window with the natural light to allow the light to flood into the room and bathe your work.
You must install bright white lights, ambient lighting, and lots of task lights. If you’re quilting at night, be sure to train bright task lights on your work, so you don’t have to strain your eyes. You should also install lots of overhead lighting, and a regular light on a wall behind your station. Some individuals also install a light on their sewing machines to further enhance their visibility. You can also try true-color or daylight lamps because they closely resemble natural lighting, which is ideal for vision.
While sewing, you can place a bright-colored strip of quilter’s tape on the soleplate of your sewing machine because it will help you identify the sewing areas. Purchase sewing machines with attached magnifiers so you can see details without straining your eyes. If your sewing machine doesn’t have an attached magnifying glass, you can purchase a magnifier separately. You can also use a sheet-magnifier while sewing to prevent any strain to your eyes.
One of the greatest issues individuals with poor eyesight come across is threading the needle. The act of threading the needle is a challenge for most people with perfect vision because it requires immense focus. However, it’s particularly fraught for people with poor vision. The best way to get over this issue is to use an automatic needle threader.
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Best Tools for Quilters with Weak Eyesight
Stella Lighting LED Task Lamp is a 10-watt tri-spectrum task light with Philips Lumiled LEDs. The light is extremely bright, which allows you to clearly see all of the tools on your quilting table. Furthermore, it also includes five lighting modes — natural sunlight mode, dimming, flex arm, and no bulb. Thanks to the tactile touchpad, flexible neck, and the lighting modes, you can easily customize it to receive the kind of light you need. This task lamp also lasts for up to 50,000 hours with minimal heat.
MagniPros LED Illuminated Headband Magnifier Visor is one of the most effective magnifiers for quilters with weak eyesight. This is a headgear with a magnifying visor that you can flip up or down, depending on whether you need magnification at that moment. Since you wear this magnifier on your head, you don’t have to worry about constantly moving its angle or holding it in your hands. As such, you can continue working on your quilt without distractions.
This MagniPros lens can magnify your vision by 1X, 1.5X, 2X, 2.5X, or 3.5X, which provides incredible visibility for small details. Furthermore, this headband also includes ultra-bright energy-efficient LEDs that you can toggle on and off for greater visibility, especially at night.
Mag Eyes Magnifier is yet another headband-based magnifying lens. However, it’s a lot more reasonable than the aforementioned magnifying glasses, and it’s not as high-tech. This magnifying glass doesn’t have automatic magnifier modifiers or LED lights. It comes with a simple elastic headband with which you can attach it over your head.
The magnifying glass falls over your eyes, allowing you to see the details of your quilting with greater clarity. This package includes two magnifying lenses, which means you can alternate between them, depending on your needs. The magnifying lens #5 provides 2.25X magnification, and the magnifying lens #7 provides 2.75x magnification.
Carson Optical Pro Series MagniVisor is a headband visor with an attached magnifier, and it comes with four lenses that can provide magnification to the degree of 1.5X, 2X, 2.5X, and 3X. This is an ergonomically-designed head-mounted LED magnifier, which means it’s extremely comfortable to use.
While the device can’t automatically change the magnification, you can easily toggle between different lenses to get the specific degree of magnification you want. It also comes with a removable LED lamp that provides further visibility. The LED light also features a magnetic base with which you can easily attach or detach it, using it as a stand-alone light fixture.
Donegan DA-5 OptiVisor Headband Magnifier provides an incredible range of magnification, depending on the lenses you get. The 1.75X magnification lens provides a 14” focal length of vision; the 2X magnification lens provides a 10” focal length of vision; the 2.5X magnification lens provides an 8” focal length of vision; the 2.75X magnification lens provides a 6” focal length of vision, and the 3.5X magnification lens provides a 4” focal length of vision.
The optical glasses are also ground and polished for ultimate clarity. The headband is elastic and adjustable, making it extremely comfortable.
Carson Clip and Flip Magnifying Lenses is a pair of magnifying glasses that can be attached over your existing reading glasses. As such, these magnifying lenses are ideal for those who already wear powerful glasses. You can clip these lenses over your existing glasses, and then flip them up or down, depending on whether you need magnification.
You can’t automatically change the magnification of these lenses, which is why you have to either get lenses with 1.5X magnification, 1.75X magnification, or 2X magnification. As such, it provides magnifying power between the range of +2.25 Diopters to +4.00 Diopters.
SINGER Needle Threader Assistant is one of the most useful automatic hand sewing needle threaders on the market. Everyone has trouble threading a needle, but people with poor vision have it especially rough.
The SINGER Needle Threader, however, has a one-push button with which you can easily thread the needle. You can also trigger a switch to change the needle size. Furthermore, it also includes an inbuilt thread cutter to automatically snap the thread when necessary.
CLOVER 4071 Desk Needle Threader is the ideal automatic needle threader for your desk. All you have to do is drop your needle into the machine, rest the thread in the designated slot, and press the button. The machine will automatically thread the needle, which will allow you to continue sewing without straining your eyes. This needle threader measures 4.2” x 1.1” x 5.8”, and it only weighs 0.32 ounces.
Well, that’s it, folks! Quilting is a wonderful activity that brings enough joy to make any minor aches or pains worth it. But you should never push your body beyond its limits. However, if you’re smart about it, you can enjoy the wonders of quilting even if you suffer from arthritis or poor vision!
To compile this article, we reviewed and tried out some of the most useful accessibility tools for quilters with arthritis and poor vision. What do you think of these quilting tools and tips? Do you have recommendations for any other accessibility tools? Let us know down in the comments section!
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