Casualties of Sew

Photo-7 If I hadn't already done enough damage to my wrists and fingers in the last 20 years of my extreme computer use, my marathon sewing has put the final nail in the coffin. Last week, as covered the fifteen self-buttons for my Ceylon, I managed to do something incredibly unpleasant to my thumb. It's wasn't painful. No, it was the opposite. I basically COULDN'T FEEL THE SIDE OF MY THUMB. Now, I'm a bit of a hypochondriac so my initial reaction is that I had a stroke or something.  Then I did some research online and concluded that I had carpal tunnel syndrome. Like Fonzie and his magic jukebox hand, I figured that just hitting my thumb enough with my other hand would wake it up. That didn't exactly work. 

 A-YEEEEEEEE. (Imagine that in a sad and defeated Fonzie voice)

A couple days passed with still no feeling. I even managed to slam the thumb in a closing cabinet because I didn't really know my thumb was still in it. As of today, a good portion of feeling has returned though it feels sort of like your mouth when you're almost over dental numbness.
So my question to all of you is how has your body handled sewing? Bad backs, Carpal Tunnel, strained eyes? What are your causalities of sew?

 

 

Author

Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.

17 Comments

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  1. I get horrible back and neck pain from sewing. I think its a result of 1) Stress and 2) having a short torso. I tried to set up my machine ergonomically, but I still tense up my shoulders when I sew and lift my elbow putting lots of strain on my back and neck. This also happens when I draw, knit, or even eat.

  2. I did that to my thumb sewing… the side of it went numb (from turning out too many tubes with my fingers I think.) I’m pretty sure it was just a pinched nerve or something, because it went away and never came back. I hope yours gets better soon!

  3. Oh, man. Half an hour of sewing used to put me out of commission– my hunched-at-the-dining-table posture made a knotted mess out of my shoulders and back. I finally realized that the table was too low and set my sewing machine up on a high counter. I put a few foam anti-fatigue mats on the floor below, and I stand up to sew now. Oddly, it’s less exhausting than sewing at a table was!
    I’m still puzzled by the tingly tendon problems in the backs of my hands that make hand embroidery ouchy. I hope everyone gets better or finds cures for their ailments– it’s not fun!

  4. Back ache, as I tend to hunch for some reason and many pricked fingers. Also lots of swearing hehe. I hope your feeling good again soon, take care. ax

  5. A couple of years ago, I was doing a quick mending job and sewing right through the tip of my finger, nail and all. I’m usually a screamer, but not that time. The needle was stuck in my finger, so I removed it from the machine and walked upstairs to ask my husband for help. He removed it; we put some peroxide and a bandage on, and went to bed. The next day, I had an x-ray and a tetanus shot, but really no more problems. Ugh!

  6. Ooh, I have sympathy pain (or numbness?). You poor thing. I hope you feel better soon :).
    I have Carpal Tunnel syndrome(my arms fall asleep all the way up to my shoulders now) and terrible squinty eyes. I’m peering at what I’m sewing for so long that when I look up, the world rocks around a bit until my eyes refocus! LOL!
    The worst thing that’s happened is getting a needle jammed under my fingernail and into the nailbed. Ugh. I’m getting squeamish remembering it. Blech!

  7. So far sewing is okay, but I do get numbness and pain in just below my shoulder blade from computer work. And knitting is doing bad things to my fingers and wrists. But I can’t give it up…

  8. I get the backache from sitting in the one position for too long. It helps to get up and move around to the ironing board or the overlocker, or even just to try on what you have made so far just for a bit of a stretch. Some eyestrain if my light is not good enough

  9. back and neck pain. Have to keep reminding myself to adjust the chair and sit right and to take breaks!

  10. After sewing for a year I’ve just started experiencing pain in my wrist. It’s the worst if I have to do much seam ripping. I’m clamping the fabric too tight I guess. So, I’m experimenting with holding the fabric a different way and making sure I don’t over extend the muscles.

  11. I’m sure your thumb will get better soon! I sewed through the side of my finger, which hurt for at least 2 weeks! Owie!

  12. Poor thing, I hope it heals soon!
    My back (and sometimes neck) often hurts after I’ve pinned and cut the fabric on the bedroom floor. My behind aches after sitting too long at the sewing machine, think I need a more comfortable chair.

  13. ooohhh no! I sometimes get really achey fingers from sewing!

  14. For anything carpal tunnel related, try icing the forearm/wrist area on the affected side. Even if the symptom shows up in your hand or one of your digits, the problem most likely stems from higher up in your arm. Icing, for 10-20 minutes with a towel protecting your skin, will help reduce the swelling that’s causing the pain/loss of feeling. Also, stretching the forearms, digits, and rotating the wrists helps. I know of what I type! Sometimes my carpal tunnel sends shooting pains all the way to my shoulder, other times I get tingly feelings in my hands.
    But my real sewing casualty is neck/back pain from bending over cutting tables, tensing up while sewing something complex, and slumping while doing handwork. Recently I managed to raise the level of my cutting table by putting it up on bed risers purchased at a home sundries store. 3 extra inches makes a world of difference!

  15. What with all the sewing I have done for myself, my family and for those who paid me…. ahem, well…. I’ve done a variety of things; like sew thru a finger or two… I’ve managed to use the rotory cutter over my finger (yep, late at night so I had to wake up my DH to take me to get it sewn up… with medical stitches… not the sewing machine!) Let’s just say I try to be careful… but you know, when your enjoying the sewing moment and your maybe a bit tired…. well, things happen! LoL… Hang in there, and take care… glad to hear that it looks worse than it feels.

  16. I was sewing a friend’s wedding dress and was finishing the very last thing, the belt, when i did something similar to Lucinda and sewed right through my fingernail. The machine locked up with the needle through my finger, so i had to unplug the machine and cart it around the house looking for a tool to pry myself loose. Worst of all, i didn’t have another vintage belt kit of the same size, and the tension on my machine got all out of whack. So my friend’s wedding belt was skinnier than it should have been, with awful loopy stitches on the wrong side, but at least it wasn’t dripping with blood.

  17. Definite eye-strain on my part. I will sit and hand sew all day just so I have it done but then my eyes won’t focus properly for a bit. I already can’t see far away…