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Anyone use a sewing machine?

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  • Anyone use a sewing machine?

    I've got several modifications I'd like to do to my seat cushion cover and the back of my chair. My original plan was to go to a tailor and see if they could do some of them, but who knows when they will open back up with everything that is going on.

    So I was thinking about buying a sewing machine and giving it a shot myself. I'm not really sure how hard it is to learn.

    I found this sewing machine, which is like $100 brand new. I need something small, because I don't have a very big place, and this fits the bill... though I have no idea if it's robust enough to sew through two layers of nylon and a layer of velcro, which I definitely need it to do.

    I guess I would have already bought this if it weren't for the fact that I'm not sure I can operate it. It still uses a pedal like basically all other sewing machines I gather. I was thinking maybe I could hold the pedal in one hand or operate it with my chin or an elbow or something, but I'm not sure how feasible that is.

    Anybody been able to use a sewing machine without using your legs?


  • #2
    You need both hands on the fabric, but you can control the speed pedal with your elbow. I gave up because at C7 I really didn't have enough hand function to feel safe. With all the mouth actuated powerchair controls, there probably are some you could adapt.

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    • #3
      The model 4452, on the same page, is a much sturdier machine. It will sew several layers of nylon and even glove leather with ease.

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      • #4
        My advice is no. I spent years learning to sew with mediocre skill. Cushion covers have those 90 degree corners that are challenging to do without an amateur looking bulge. Call a few tailor shops and see if they record messages. Ask them to call you.

        "How hard can it be?" is a very dangerous question. That said, if you have other things you might like to sew, give it a go. Sewing using the elbow on the foot pedal is a slow and frustrating way to go.

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        • #5
          I don't sew but another para near me does and I've seen his setup. No idea what kind of machine he uses but as far as the pedal is concerned, he mounted it on the side edge of his table, facing his body when seated, and leaned his chest into it. Seemed like a fairly natural motion because he also leaned in close to watch and guide his work at the same time.
          "I have great faith in fools; self-confidence my friends call it." - Edgar Allen Poe

          "If you only know your side of an issue, you know nothing." -John Stuart Mill, On Liberty

          "Even what those with the greatest reputation for knowing it all claim to understand and defend are but opinions..." -Heraclitus, Fragments

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          • #6
            You might also look at upholstery shops as an option for doing this sewing for you. Doesn't make sense to buy a sewing machine unless you are planning to do a lot of sewing in the future.

            (KLD)
            The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.

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            • #7
              If you decide to do it. Take a piece of string and make a loop through the foot pedal. Stick your arm through the loop and bring it up on your shoulder. Operate the pedal by squeezing it with your upper arm. This lets you use both hands. Its not that hard to sew. I'd get a cheap machine or try it at the place that sells them first. Take your time and keep your fingers.

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              • #8
                I am a t11-12 and I see all the time. Made about 200 masks recently. I just use my elbow.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Lavender lady View Post
                  I am a t11-12 and I see all the time. Made about 200 masks recently. I just use my elbow.
                  How hard would you say sewing in general is? I’m coming into this with zero sewing experience and I’m not a terribly crafty or creative guy.

                  On the other hand I’m not trying to fashion a three piece suit from scratch, I just want to shorten up some straps on my wheelchair back and sew on some extra Velcro. If I’m able to sew a few reasonably straight stitches I’ll be happy.

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                  • #10
                    I tried sewing once using my left hand for the pedal, my right to pull it though, and my chin to keep the fabric taught, but I sewed my lip.
                    69yo male T12 complete since 1995
                    NW NJ

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by funklab View Post

                      How hard would you say sewing in general is? ....
                      Not difficult, if your goal is to create functional end products. I taught myself to sew back in college days so I could make camping and backpacking clothing and gear that I couldn't afford off the shelf. Then I started making rock climbing gear. Then as interests changed, I made an awful lot of stuff related to sailing, including sails. In all cases the goal was function, not appearance, and this was all pre-SCI. I'm convinced that making fine clothing, with perfect seams and tailoring, is very difficult. That may be why I enjoyed sewing but my wife does not. Her standards (from making clothing) are much higher than mine.

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                      • #12
                        After not finding a waterproof wheelchair cushion cover for a decent price, decided would be cheaper to invest and learn how to sew. Sense then did waterproof wheelchair cushion cover, wheelchair back rest cover and toilet seat cushion. In 2014 got https://www.amazon.com/Brother-Quilt...75&sr=8-2&th=1 for $105, it is overkill for my needs but the price and reviews were good enough. Its not hard to figure out and adapt to your abilities, using a pedal with right hand can control the speed. With left hand try to keep it straight, with this machine no need to pull, it does it on its own, just control the speed with the right hand. Good luck
                        c6/7 incomplete 6/30/07

                        whats that smell? its me, cause im the shit.


                        если я сейчас умру то нахуй я родился

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                        • #13
                          (C7 quad) I started sewing about 20 months ago out of sheer necessity. The local wc-rugby club had quite a few chairs with shoddy or non-existent upholstery making them unusable. Instead of trying to find a tailor that would take on the work I decided I needed a hobby. Fast forward to now and I am extremely happy I did. One of the best hobbies I could of picked up because it is so peaceful. I'm luckily still employed (computer drafting) but should the recession take my job I will at least have something I truly enjoy to fill my time. At this point I am quite invested with 3 machines (all different functions)

                          I use my right hand (ironically my "better" hand) to run the pedal placed on the table to the right of the machine. My left does everything else. I attempted the elbow method, but without trunk seemed a recipe for disaster.

                          My first tasks were replacing backrests and seat-slings on old rugby chairs. I've made 4 custom wheel bags for myself and close teammates, along with basketball-style jerseys I wear to practice. I don't like buying anything made outside of North America so am now making (and even wearing to work) sweatshirts and t-shirts. I am currently gearing up to make my first pair of jeans.

                          It's really satisfying as long as you aren't too picky. Everything I've made thus far has exceeded my expectations, so I am hooked.

                          Get ahold of a cheap machine and try it. I originally did knowing that it wouldn't be great for upholstery work but still managed (for awhile). When you decide you want to stick with it then you can invest in a good machine.

                          Good luck!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by tooley View Post
                            (C7 quad) I started sewing about 20 months ago out of sheer necessity. The local wc-rugby club had quite a few chairs with shoddy or non-existent upholstery making them unusable. Instead of trying to find a tailor that would take on the work I decided I needed a hobby. Fast forward to now and I am extremely happy I did. One of the best hobbies I could of picked up because it is so peaceful. I'm luckily still employed (computer drafting) but should the recession take my job I will at least have something I truly enjoy to fill my time. At this point I am quite invested with 3 machines (all different functions)

                            I use my right hand (ironically my "better" hand) to run the pedal placed on the table to the right of the machine. My left does everything else. I attempted the elbow method, but without trunk seemed a recipe for disaster.

                            My first tasks were replacing backrests and seat-slings on old rugby chairs. I've made 4 custom wheel bags for myself and close teammates, along with basketball-style jerseys I wear to practice. I don't like buying anything made outside of North America so am now making (and even wearing to work) sweatshirts and t-shirts. I am currently gearing up to make my first pair of jeans.

                            It's really satisfying as long as you aren't too picky. Everything I've made thus far has exceeded my expectations, so I am hooked.

                            Get ahold of a cheap machine and try it. I originally did knowing that it wouldn't be great for upholstery work but still managed (for awhile). When you decide you want to stick with it then you can invest in a good machine.

                            Good luck!
                            Thanks for sharing your experience. The very first thing I need to do is pretty simple and even if I messed it up I could do it over, appearances don't matter at all (it's the straps inside the upholstered back of my chair).

                            It might be pretty thick at two layers of nylon plus two layers of velcro that I need to attach. If that goes well the next job is even thicker.

                            I was thinking about getting the heavy duty machine endo mentioned above, but right now none of the inexpensive ones are available in stores or online. I was thinking I might as well get a new one and then if it doesn't work out or I turn out to be really uncoordinated, I have a month or two to return it.

                            I would have bought one Saturday, even went to the store, but they were sold out of everything except for really high end expensive models.

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                            • #15
                              A needle and thread work (think moccasins) for small jobs. Bought an old machine off craigslist but have never mastered the throttle.
                              "Never turn your back on fear. It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed." - Hunter Thompson
                              T5/6 complete

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