Thursday, October 6, 2016

A Will and a Way

Hey, I'm back! Sort of. For three weeks now, I've been impatiently recovering from shoulder surgery to repair a broken humerus. Longest three weeks of my life. (Five if you count the two weeks prior to surgery.) And everything takes forever to do. My days are pretty much filled up with taking care of personal needs, trying to catch up on sleep missed during the night, exercising three times a day (about two hours altogether when you count the warm up time to loosen things up and the post-exercise icing) and attending therapy sessions three times a week. Since I haven't been able to quilt (or ride my bike), I've spent a lot of time looking at blogs. I haven't been commenting a lot because keyboarding with one hand is tedious, but I am enjoying looking at what others are doing. Luckily, the Bloggers Quilt Festival was going on so there was a lot to look at during the past two weeks. I read (and fall asleep), and when I'm totally bored, I watch episodes of Gilmore Girls. I didn't see that show when it originally aired, and with 7 seasons to watch (153 episodes), I figure I'll be healed by the time I'm done. Binge watching that show can be really annoying (I can take only two episodes at a time--I guess that's not really binge watching, is it?), but I'm sticking with it weird dropped plot lines (and other assorted flaws) and all.

But my mind and heart are really on quilting. After I broke my shoulder, I managed to do a tiny bit of hand quilting using a pillow as a stand-in for my left arm, and a week ago, I tried again. It was a success but exhausted me. I don't have full use of my elbow due to swelling and stiffness from immobility in a sling. (I know, whine, whine, whine, but stick with me because this gets better.)

I did that green part. It's a little wobbly  organic. I'm hoping to do more of it after I get rid of the sling (maybe next week) and get my elbow more functional.

Now, here's the good part. I learned to use the Quiltography app on my Ipad, so I could work on some designing for some secret sewing (that I'll be sharing as part of a blog hop the week of October 24). A wonderful consequence of not being able to sew! And this week I decided that it was time to try sewing my idea. I can't use a rotary cutter right now, but I knew that if I could do foundation paper piecing, I could sew accurately without having to cut precisely with scissors. There was a bit of a problem in that I usually draw my designs on graph paper and trace them on foundation paper. I write/draw with my left hand, so I needed an alternative. It took a little searching on the internet, but I finally found exactly what I needed at Quilters Cache. I'm sure you heard me squeal when I found free printable templates in the exact size I wanted. 

With a little cutting and taping, I had a workable pattern for piecing. Now you know there are some geese in my project, but I'm not giving much away to show you this. And I'm just so thrilled that I could do it. 

Here's a strip, with my right-hand written notations. Yes, with great concentration, I can print a bit. 

And here I am sewing! 

Never mind that it took a half hour to sew four seams. I know I'll get faster, especially if I pre-cut some patches.

I found that these tools are essential to working with one hand:

A needle threader (Who knew I thread my machines and needles with my left hand?) This little gadget helped me make do with my right.
Straight pins to hold fabric in place. (I don't usually use pins for small foundation piecing.)
A stiletto if I need it to guide fabric.
Small scissors to trim fabric.
A brayer instead of an iron to make it easier to press seams.

So there you have it. Here's the front side, which won't reveal too much of my project. 

The purpose in showing you this is, of course, to show that where there's a will, there really is a way. Even though I'm incredibly slow, it thrills me and does so much for my disposition to be able to do this little bit of sewing. If I could not do this, I would be very difficult to live with right now. My poor husband (who has literally been my left hand, and okay, let's face it, my right hand, too, through all of this). 

I'm linking up with Freemotion by the River for Linky Tuesday, Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social and My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday. Yes, I know some of these links are from earlier this week, but I told you I'm slow. 

Have a great weekend everybody, and sew however you can find a way.


  1. Ugh! Long recoveries are so hard! Huzzah for some sewing! I hope you continue to heal well.

  2. Great problem solving! I have a roller tool like that ; didn't know it was called a brayer. Live and learn. Claire aka knitnkwilt

  3. Broke shoulder 4 years your routine sounds about like mine then. It took almost a year to gain full use, so hang in there. The swelling will go down eventually. To use the rotary cutter and ruler, I used a pair of old flat irons to hold the ruler in place. I resorted to the slotted ruler for cutting strips. So I think your sewing looks great...great geese!
    Whine all you want....until someone has been thru this they have no idea how it overwhelms your life.

  4. Your geese project looks fun; can't wait to see it. Thanks for the links to your quilty discoveries. Take your time and heal thoroughly.

  5. I am awestruck!! You have such tenacity. But a whiner??? Not at all. Your perspective makes one appreciate the normal things we take for granted, like having two working hands. Go Janine!

    Also, thanks for mentioning Quilters Cache. I had not heard of that and I love checking out any available resources.

    Hope your shoulder continues to heal and that you don't go bonkers in the meanwhile, which it looks like you will not if you can stitch a bit. :-)

  6. Bless your heart! I didn't read it as whining, just telling it like it is! You are amazing! Keep up the good work! XO

  7. You broke your shoulder and couldn't sew at all for simply ages - in my book you get to complain pretty much for as long as you want. I admire how resourceful you are: learning new stuff, finding ways to be able to work. I hope you continue to heal and that this project keeps your mind off your limitations (also, it looks great!)

  8. Ouch, sounds like you're going through it, though I do love how nothing keeps us quilters away from our sewing! Well done on persevering, you'll get better soon I'm sure.

  9. I've been out of touch so long (moving), and during that time my blog reading list disappeared (really! It just went poof!). So when I saw you on IG the other day I was thrilled to find your blog again! I had no idea you had broken your shoulder and just now read some of your previous posts. Needless to say I'm sad for you but very impressed with your determination! I had thought I would wait and unpack my sewing room last, but you are inspiring me to dig out some fabric and just sew on it! Love your Into the Woods fall fabrics.

    Thanks to you and Bernie, I'm considering purchasing the Quiltography app.

  10. Wow! I'm impressed with how much you've been able to figure out using just one arm and hand. Good for you!

    I'm dealing with a pinched nerve in my right shoulder, but it has only slowed down my sewing a bit. I'm lucky that I didn't have to actually change my technique, other than concentrating on having better posture.

    Your post reminded me that it's time to do my exercises :) Hoping for fast healing and increased dexterity for you!

  11. What a trooper you are Janine! The whole experience has been painful and trying and yet here you are figuring out ways to quilt. Paper piecing must be quite the challenge one handed.
    Here's hoping for perfect healing!