6 Scary Last Minute Halloween Makeup and Costume Ideas
6 Costume and Crafting Hacks for People With Rheumatoid Arthritis
Don’t let RA symptoms stop you from getting crafty. Try these tips for making costumes for pets, kids, and more.
By Maria Ricapito
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Rachelle Crow, 32, describes herself as a “sewist, quilter, and costume-maker.” Diagnosed at age 19 with spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) two years later, Crow has symptoms that can make it hard to pursue her love of crafting. The Detroit resident was a hand-quilter for years, but “my arthritis got so bad I got a sewing machine,” she says. “If I can do it with fabric, fine. If not, I get out the hot glue gun and the paint.”
As the mom of two young daughters, she’s also — by necessity — a costume designer, especially around the holidays. “This time of year,” she says, “everyone starts asking me ‘What are you going to do this year?’”
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For ages, the drive to create and make art has inspired people with arthritis, including renowned painters Pierre-August Renoir and Grandma Moses, to adapt their art forms in order to continue creating. With Halloween and some other craft-friendly holidays on the horizon, we turned to Crow, who is a member of CreakyJoints, the not-for-profit online support group for people with all forms of arthritis, for some RA-friendly crafting tips, plus suggestions for fun costumes that can be repurposed for kids and pets alike.
“Most of my life is spent figuring out how to McGyver parenting with arthritis,” she says. And to do that, the avid crafter shares tips on how she’s simplified her supplies, storage, and methods.
6 Crafting Hacks for People With Rheumatoid Arthritis
1. Save Hand Strength by Using Springy Scissors or a Rotary Cutter
“One of the first things I’ve done is bought ergonomically-correct scissors that are springy, so you don’t have to use hand strength to open and close them. That makes a world of difference if you are cutting a lot of things.” When it comes to fabric, though, she suggests skipping the scissors and going with a rotary cutter. “They make ergonomically correct ones with sculpted handles. That really changed the landscape for folks who work with fabric,” she says. Use a rotary cutter on a self-healing mat as a cutting surface.
2. Make Your Work Space RA-Friendly, and Make It Work for You
“Be sure your work surface is a good height for you,” she says. “If it’s too high, it’s painful for your shoulders, and if it’s too low, you’re bending over, and that can make your back hurt.” She has a Bernina sewing machine. “They do make expensive adjustable sewing tables, but that was not in my budget, so I got a kitchen table from Goodwill and cut the legs down; it’s almost like a kid-height table.” That’s makes it easier to feed fabric through the machine without bending down.
While she works, her arms are bent at a 90-degree angle with her hands at the same level as her elbows. “As a quilter, sometimes I have massive king-size quilts speeding through the machine,” she says. Her seat is an adjustable desk chair (also a thrift-store find) “with lumbar support and all those fun things,” she says. “If I’m sewing, I don’t want the chair to have arms because I need to get as close to the table as possible.”
She also has a standing-height craft table repurposed from her father’s old hardware workbench. She has bar stools for her and the kids.
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