I finally got to start hand sewing again after a forced break of two months.
Two months without a needle and thread in my hand!
It was hard, but I did as I was told and my hand/arm/shoulder are doing much better now. 🙂
Several people have asked if I’m doing anything different to prevent future injuries, so I thought I’d write up a post with some more info.
In a nutshell – yes. I’m doing a lot of things differently.
First, and most importantly, I’m not stitching for hours and hours without a rest. And when it starts to hurt – I stop. Immediately. That’s kind of the no-brainer fix. 🙂
But I’m doing other things too.
Before I start stitching, I warm up my right hand and wrist. Literally make it warm. I’m one of those annoying people who are always cold, so I run it under warm water, or wrap it under a blanket for a few minutes before I start work.
I also warm up with some stretches. Stacey has a video here demonstrating a bunch of good stretches for knitters and crocheters. They’re good for people doing all kinds of hand work!
I’m also paying more attention to my tools and supplies. The one thing that still gives me pain sometimes is pinching something between my thumb and forefinger. Like a needle! I’ve learned that thicker threads are much harder to grab and pull – they just require more force. But I love using thick thread for embroidery! So I’ve done two things.
I break up my thick-thread sewing with some thin thread sewing. I would normally do all the thin-thread whipstitching all my pieces down first, then move into all the decorative stitching with thicker thread. Now I do a bit of thin thread whipstitching, then immediately embellish those bits with some thicker thread. That helps a lot.
But I’m also using a different needle type. I usually use embroidery needles because they have a nice big eye. But the sides of that eye bow out, which makes the eye significantly wider than the rest of the needle. That makes it harder to pull through the fabric, which means I need to pinch the needle harder, which makes the base of my thumb hurt very quickly. I’ve been experimenting with using milliner’s needles because their eyes don’t bow out. It’s definitely better, but I’m still trying to find the right length for me. I’ll keep you posted as I finish experimenting.
For the thin thread sewing I’m using the very thinnest needle I can find. It really does make a difference. I’ve also experimented with different glues, but so far nothing is better than my favorite fabric glue sticks. As long as I don’t use too much, it’s pretty easy to needle through.
So that’s it! Warm up first, take breaks, and use the tools and supplies that cause the least strain. Want a little peek at the new piece so far?
I’m so thrilled with how it’s turning out so far!