Left-footed sewing, really?

A few weeks ago, I had surgery on my right foot. I’m still not allowed to put any weight on it at all, so the time has come to learn how to sew (pedal) with my left foot. This will not be pretty. I’m an extremely patient person. I’m not bothered by traffic or long lines. I can happily listen to long rambling stories and “what I dreamt about last night” tales. However, I am NOT patient when it comes to me and my activities. When I piece, I sew like a demented person, whipping patches under my needle without missing a beat. But, somehow, I think I’ll be sewing more slowly this week (much wailing and gnashing of teeth will ensue).  Here’s hoping I learn quickly and don’t sew through my fingers. Wish me luck and please share any tips you may have. I need all the help I can get!

Laura 200x300 Left footed sewing, really?
This is the ‘leg caddy’ that I use when tearing around the office. Tricia, our Editorial Assistant, and Sherri, our Associate Editor, surprised me one day by attaching just the right girly accessories (basket, bell, and streamers) to the caddy before I got to work. I’m stylin’ now!
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18 Responses to Left-footed sewing, really?

  1. Sonia KLEIN says:

    That sure looks a lot better than crutches! I havfe surgery on Thursday on my right foot.

  2. Nancy P says:

    It won’t take you too long to get used to sewing with your left foot. I now own a Bernina sewing machine with the hands free system (knee lift) and you need to sew with your left foot so your right knee is free to work the mechanism to lift the presser foot. It becomes second nature after a while. Hope you heal quickly!

  3. Laura Roberts says:

    Oh, Sonia, you have my heartfelt sympathy! And, not to burst your bubble, but I have crutches in addition to the caddy, mostly because I don’t really have a way to get the caddy in and out of the car. So, crutches work for the transitions from caddy to car and car to house. Oh, and I ended up renting two of the caddies so I’d have one at home and one at work and not have to attempt moving them. Good luck tomorrow, I’ll be thinking of you.

  4. Laura Roberts says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, Nancy! You’ve made me feel much more hopeful about the whole thing. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  5. sharon says:

    Wishing you a speedy recovery. That left foot sewing will become natural in no time, it’s amazing how adaptive we can be, especially when it comes to quilting!

  6. Cheryl says:

    I have been there! A few years ago I broke my right foot and was in a cast for 6 weeks and at the time I was employed at a sewing factory and had no available time off so i was left with no choice but to make the best of the situation. I adjusted to the change quicker then I expected! In no time I was sewing just as quickly with my left foot as I did with my right and even after the cast was removed I found myself unconsiously still using my left foot from time to time. Anything is possible!

  7. Laura Roberts says:

    I did it! Thanks to all of your encouraging words, I just dove in. You’re right! It was much more natural than I thought it would be, although even after 2 hours I’m still having trouble with suddenly flooring it. My cats are highly amused because Mom keeps making really interesting sounds. ‘Lots of “aaaaa!” and “oh, man!” and a sort of guttural groaning. They really like it when I put my head down on my sewing table in frustration because then they can headbutt me in the ear!

  8. Nancy Lee says:

    I always use my left foot, so I can use my right knee for the knee lift…
    Love the foot caddy…how cute!

  9. Karen says:

    I’ve been in a cast without being able to put weight on my right foot for 6 weeks. the cast comes off Monday. Yeah!!!
    I cannot live without sewing and was worried about sewing “left-footed”. I didn’t miss a beat. I made tons of stuff these past weeks including lots of precise topstitching. I just wish I had heard about a leg caddy. I’ve used a transport wheelchair. Good luck to you.

  10. Laura Roberts says:

    Who knew there were so many talented left-foot-sewers out there?! And I’m proud to say that I’ve joined the ranks of the left-foot-pedaling contingent. It’s been so much easier than I thought it would be! And thanks to everyone for your encouragement, it really helped. This weekend I was stitching up samples that I’ll be using later in the week when we’re photographing a ‘how-to’ lesson for the December issue. It’s one of our Yesterday and Today features where we show a vintage quilt and then a modern version. This one has a really clever technique that I’ll be explaining in the ‘how-to’ photographs. It’s a red and white quilt, so of course I had red and white fabric all over my sewing room this weekend. White fabric + dark kitten. Red fabric + blond Balinese. Can you see where this is leading? Out comes the fur remover… I wouldn’t want any little cat hairs in my how-to photos!
    Sonia, I’ve been wondering how your surgery went and whether you’re up and about yet. Here’s wishing you a quick recovery!
    Happy Monday everyone!

  11. Joyce Morris says:

    I have been sewing left-footed for 15 years. When i bought my first Bernina I had trouble using the wonderful knee lifter. I once had a sewing machine I powered with my right knee, consequently I kept trying to run the machine with the knee lifter. kBut once I changed to powering the machine with the left foot on the pedal I had no problem at all. Came in handy a couple years ago when I had my right knee replacement. I was able to just keep right on sewing.

  12. david rock says:

    i just read your blog.. i am hadicapped. as a result of a stroke, i lost the use of my right arm. i am a man, and my wife helps me with sewing, with anything that involves a great deal of tecnique. can you help with any tips.

  13. Laura Roberts says:

    I’m sure that a lot of our readers have practical and valuable tips for sewing when disabled. My mother had terrible arthritis in her hands and found that spring-loaded scissors were very helpful, but pinning became impossible for her. There must be many, many people who have discovered ways to keep sewing when our bodies don’t cooperate. So, please everyone, add your tips and tricks to this blog. Your tip may be just what someone’s been looking for! Thanks!

  14. Mary Val says:

    I have always sewn with my left foot — I am left handed. It did make the conversion to my Bernina with the knee lift easier. Adjusting to the Bernina — I love the machine — after 30 years of using my old workhorse Kenmore was MUCH more difficult.

    David, can you use your right leg at all? It wouldn’t need to be the kind of precise movement that hands require. but if you could use your right knee to move it to one side to use the hands-free system Bernina has, that might help. The foot pedal will raise the needle, lower the needle, the lift lever on the right side that you operate with your knee raises the sewing foot. I use a magnetic dish for my pins, less spilling and picking up stray pins all over the place. Scissors on a clip that hands from my shirt, or around your neck so no hunting for the scissors and trying to move stuff around the sewing table one-handed to find it. Hmmm. I will have to try sewing with one hand for several days and see what I might come up with. Good on you for being creative, and taking up the challenge.

  15. This comment is for David. My Mom also had a stroke and lost the use of her right arm. One does need an assistant for quilting. One of the things that I do to help her is that I don’t use pins. I use Elmer’s school glue to baste pieces together and to baste blocks and rows. It makes it much easier for her to stitch things together when they are stable. Sharon Schamber has some great tutorials on youtube for doing this.

  16. david rock says:

    thank you all for you suggestions. i’ ll try them if i can. i just ordered a cutting machine. you will find it on accuquilt on google. it has not arrived yet, but a visitor next who runs a quilting store, said it is right for me to use it. i used to cut using weights to hold down the material, dumbells are the correct weight for me. i use pinning by putting the material on the 35 inch kitchen cabinets and then pin by joining the one or one and a half inches together and then pin by using the left hand. my wife has to help me put the thread on, and bobbin.

  17. Jan says:

    I developed terrible neuropathy in my hands, arms, feet and legs due to chemotherapy, quilting was (an is) my creative outlet so I did not want to stop during chemo. I had and accuquilt studio and ordered the strip and other quilting dies. Now I could continue cutting without fear for loosing an arm! Pinning was a problem also so I found some plastic clips at the office supply store, again an a-ha moment. Little snips also did not take much effort or as much dexterity to clip threads.
    I also have a speed setting on my machine. I slowed it almost all the way down because of the inablity to move very fast. I did not want things to get away from me. Best wishes and keep sewing-it is good for the soul!!!

  18. Laura Roberts says:

    Hi Jan,
    Thanks for adding your tips to the blog! I feel like you do about quilting and I know there are lots of quilters out there who find themselves needing help for one reason or another. What sort of plastic clip did you find at the office supply store? And how do you use it?
    I agree with you about the usefulness of the Accucut products. They’re wonderful, especially if you have difficulty cutting accurately for some reason. Thanks to everyone for their tips and keep the advice coming! And, if one of the ideas shared here has been helpful to you, please let us know.
    Thanks! Laura

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