My name is Vanessa, I’m 42 and from Derbyshire. Having developed epilepsy at an early age I then suffered a stroke at the age of 10, which has left me with no use of my right hand and limited use of my right leg. I had to learn to read, write (this time left handed) and walk all over again.
As time has gone on, I find myself suffering back, hip and knee pain due to the way I walk, therefore I now use a mobility scooter to get around, as I cannot walk too far. I have never let my disability get the better of me and I always endeavour to try new things which will test my abilities and I fell in love with sewing.
Sewing one handed is very challenging especially when it comes to sewing by hand where I really need two hands. For this I have the assistance of either my mum or my hubby to hold the material while I sew. I have recently purchased a third hand sewing clamp, but it does not arrive until mid-July. If it helps I will purchase another two or three to have one either-end, and two across the back of my hand sewing table (3rd hand clamp £13.99 from Amazon). There are cheaper ones but I find that cheap usually means poor quality.
When it comes to cutting out, I open up my dining table to full size and lay out my pattern first and weigh it down along either side of the cut line. I move the weights around accordingly until the pattern has been cut out. A good sharp pair of sewing scissors are required. I use special left handed scissors, for which my husband is banned from using. I use proper sewing weights that my mum bought me for Christmas, they look like macaroons. I find the more weights the better, with one hand, so I usually use anything I have to hand at the time, such as a teapot, book, I have even used a tin of tuna. Once the pattern has been cut out, I remove it from the table and lay out my material face down (right sides together) and then carefully pin on my pattern cut outs, ensuring the sewing pattern pieces face the same direction on the material sewing pattern.
My room is laid out with a small table for hand sewing, a dedicated Horn Sewing Machine Table with a Janome insert and a table for my over-locker.
I love to try new techniques and work out how to do them with one hand. I have so far made 7 dresses, 4 skirts, 3 tops, a cardigan and a pair of pyjama bottoms for my husband. Some of my dresses were done using vintage designs, as I love the styles of the 1940’s and 1950’s. For my next project I’m going to make a blouse. I’m an avid watcher of the sewing bee (would love to meet Patrick Grant) and subscribe to Love Sewing magazine and I often buy and read sewing books.
If there are any one handed sewers out there, I would love to hear from you and share techniques for getting over those obstacles, two handed sewers find easy.