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     A blind person can and should continue to do whatever kind of sewing
he or she did as a sighted person.  Many people sew very little today. 
Some even arrange to have the laundry or dry cleaner do mending for them.
Others very much enjoy sewing and do a great deal of it.  Whether you are
blind or sighted need not affect your success in sewing or your preference
to avoid it.  Three or four tips about sewing will be useful to a newly
blinded person. 
     A needle threader consisting of a small piece of metal and wire loop
which can be put into the eye of a needle and used to draw the end of the
thread through the needle is very useful for threading needles, whether
you are sewing by hand or with a sewing machine.  If you are tense, it
will seem impossible to do this.  If you relax and practice, threading a
needle in this way can become quick and easy.  Needle threaders can be
ordered from us and can often be purchased in fabric stores. 
Self-threading needles are also available.  There is a tiny division at
the large end of a self-threading needle through which the thread can be
pulled.  If your fingers are somewhat stiff or numb you may prefer these
needles for sewing by hand. 
     When sewing with the machine, you may use the presser foot or a seam
guide to line up the material and keep your seams or topstitching
straight.  Two types of machine guides are also available for sewing
machines: a magnetic guide which adheres to the metal of the machine just
to the right of the presser foot or a metal guide that can be screwed onto
the machine table in the same place.  If your machine has the hole or
holes for the screw, this type of guide is much sturdier and more reliable
than the magnet.  Some people like to use adhesive tape to mark a 5/8-inch
seam allowance in front of the presser foot.  The most reliable guide is
the presser foot itself and it is safe to let your finger touch the front
of it.  As long as your finger is not on top of the presser foot and does
not reach in from the side, the needle cannot hurt you.  After a seam is
sewn, you can feel the stitching line to tell how straight it is.  Blind
sewers, like sighted sewers, will need to make use of the ripper
     If you like to make garments and other items, you will need to
develop a new technique for cutting them out.  You will probably want to
get a friend to trim commercial patterns on the cutting line before you
lay them on the fabric.  You may wish to make some special markings of
darts or arrows with tape when you have them trimmed.  You can feel the
edge of the tissue paper against the fabric well enough to cut along it
quite neatly.  You should loop your hand over the top blade of the
scissors so that your thumb is on one side and your fingers on the other
just where the two blades of the scissors come together when you are
cutting.  The edge of the pattern should not cross over the bottom blade
of the scissors.  Therefore your fingers should be against the pattern and
your thumb against the fabric (or vice versa) as you cut.  You will be
able to feel the pattern edge against the fabric and the scissors best if
your hand is relaxed and you touch it lightly.  Of course, you will hold
the scissors in the same hand you always did, using the other to guide
them as described above. 
     Sometimes labeling thread for color can be a problem.  One solution
to this problem is to obtain pill bottles with large tops from your local
pharmacy and stick Braille labels on them.  Braille labels glued to the
spool of thread itself will be pushed off by the spindle if the spool is
put on the machine. 
     Sewing is like so many other activities for a blind person.  The
question is not whether it can be done.  A newly blinded person needs to
ask: How can I do it?  not Can I do it?  A few relatively simple
techniques will make it possible for a blind person to do any kind of
sewing he or she wishes to do.  Practice will make these techniques simple
and commonplace, although they may seem difficult or frustrating at first. 


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Copyright (C) 1994 by the National Federation of the Blind. All Rights Reserved.