Skirting CRPS (09.04.2018)
It’s finished. Finally. My first attempt at sewing, with CRPS, didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped. Don’t get me wrong, the skirt came out really well – and I love the end result! And I’m very proud of how well the zipper turned out – it was the first one I’ve sewn! But getting this project done was much more difficult than I’d hoped.
First off, I realized right away that I can’t use scissors – with my CRPS- affected right hand – to cut fabric. Trying to use that hand was way too painful.
And my fingers don’t move well enough to hold the scissors, let alone to move them in a cutting motion while applying any pressure to the handles.
When I tried to use the scissors with my left hand, well, let’s just say that I completely mangled the piece of fabric I was trying to cut. Luckily it had been on sale, so I’d bought some extra material ,-)
The fabric is a thin cotton, and I know a good trick to cut cotton when I need a straight edge. Normally I’d cut a half-inch long nick into the edge of the fabric, where I wanted to cut it in a straight line.
Then I’d hold the material with both hands; with the nicked or cut edge between my hands. And then just rip the fabric, from the nicked edge.
There’s no way I could grip the fabric tightly with my right hand, so I used my left hand – and my teeth! – to split the fabric. Very carefully. The last thing I wanted to do was break a tooth! It ended up a more or less straight line, good enough for what I needed.
But you need more than straight lines to make a fitted skirt. So I had to figure out another way to cut the cotton; for the curved pieces I’d need.
A long time ago I did a quilting project – just once! To do that project, I bought a rotary cutter – on sale. It’s kind of like a round-bladed pizza cutter, for sewing & crafting. You use a special cutting mat under the fabric, that helps hold it in place, and then cut through the fabric with the rotary tool.
So I pulled it out of a box in the bottom of a closet, and found the cutting mat. It took me a while – and many attempts with the extra fabric! – before I found a way to use that cutting tool with my CRPS (right) hand.
I had to use my right hand to guide the tool; by holding it very lightly, with my fingers straight down, instead of wrapped around the grip. Then I’d put my left hand over the right, and put just pressure on it to cut the fabric. It was very slow going, and I couldn’t cut for long before it would become too painful.
And everything I had to do, each step of the process, went wrong in some way like that. I can’t put pins into fabric with my right hand, and I kept jabbing myself when I tried to pin the fabric with my left hand. It just felt as though I was hitting roadblock after roadblock.
Putting the zipper foot on the sewing machine, changing the thread, tying a knot, ironing down a fold for a hem. All these things that I could’ve done almost blindfolded before CRPS. And quickly. I had to rethink each of them, to adapt them to do without – or barely using – my right hand.
What would’ve taken an afternoon instead took… Almost 3 weeks. But it felt fantastic to create something again; to make something myself. So now I’m going to try to find an ‘overlock’ or ‘serger’ sewing machine; one that cuts as it sews. That might make it easier for me, for my next sewing project.
There will be a next project; this is going to be one of my CRPS challenges for this year. As always, wish me luck. As I do you!