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Sewing with a Disability

in Blog on August 1, 2023

Sewing with a disability

A few weeks ago, one of my granddaughters came over to our house to do some sewing. Not unusual for a grandmother and granddaughter who both love to sew, right? Well, in Saarah’s case machine sewing has become a challenge. You see, Saarah has multiple chronic medical conditions that make it hard for her to get around. She has developed a neurological condition that makes it impossible for her feet to use a sewing machine pedal. And she is pretty much wheelchair dependent for movement. When Saarah suggested an afternoon of sewing, I was happy but also a bit skeptical how she might be able to sew on the sewing machine. You have heard of the phrase “Where there is a will, there is a way”, right? Saarah proved that phrase to be correct. I am posting a photo that shows how Saarah placed the foot pedal under her arm pit and controlled the machine’s stop and start as well as speed with a gentle squeeze of her upper arm onto the pedal. Ingenious! I have since learned that there are sewing machines with adaptive features. For example, Babylock has a machine called “Brilliant”. This machine has adaptive features such as a stop/start button that allows you to start stitching by pressing a button rather than having to use the foot pedal to do so. You can also set the speed by hand before starting. For those with visual challenges, it’s also a good idea to look for a machine that has an automatic threader. If you suffer from painful finger joints, you might look for a machine that moves the presser foot up or down with a knee operated lever. Many sewing machine companies have now come out with machines that have adaptive features. Not all new machines do. So you will need to ask your machine dealer which ones would address your particular limitations. If you love sewing and thought you could not do it anymore because of your physical limitations, you might want to look for a machine that has adaptive features that would allow you to continue to enjoy your hobby.

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