Whatever project we undertake in the workroom we rely on our hands to complete various tasks. Some people find that working with interlining, or FR treated fabrics irritates the skin on their hands or causes contact dermatitis. This prompted some research into the care of working hands.
There are all sorts of thimbles available from traditional metal ones to shaped and leather ones. It is worth doing your research and spending a little more on one that fits properly and is comfortable. Depending on your hand-sewing technique you may be interested in a leather thimble, ‘coin’ thimble or one that is open-ended or open-sided.
Some sewing gloves are simply made of cotton to add a barrier between skin and fabric; others fit closely and have a special coating on fingers and palms to help you grip and guide fabrics. You can also get gloves with a soft and flexible fingertip grip that even allow you to work with pins and threads, and fingerless ones to support your wrists and hands while leaving fingers uncovered for fine work. Gloves that protect your fingers when cutting, for instance with a rotary cutter, are also available.
If you suffer from aching hands and wrists there are sewing supports available. These are usually seamless, stretchy and close fitting to aid circulation and give light support to hands and wrists while still allowing you to work as normal. They are fingerless and come in different designs to support your whole hand or just your wrist and thumb.
If you are doing a lot of ironing or pressing you may be interested in silicon finger guards. These slip easily on your finger tips and offer short term protection from the heat of the iron.
There are several simple exercises you can do to ease pain and cramp in your hands. The easiest is to gently squeeze and release a soft ball (one that fits easily in your hand). There are also others that specifically stretch and flex your wrists.
Don’t forget that your general posture at the worktable or sewing machine can also affect the level of strain on your arms and hands.
Make sure your worktable is a comfortable height, and when sitting at the machine ensure your chair is the correct height and position so that you can work with relaxed shoulders. Your arms should be bent at slightly more than 90 degrees.