Hands On

How did it get to be July, already? With Independence Day behind us, summer is really here. It’s sunny and lovely and warm, and my hands are happy. I’m down to two bandages for my digital ulcers, one on each thumb. Always remarkable this time of year when I can feel with most of my fingertips.

photo-24This has been especially helpful because I’ve been sewing dresses. We’re getting ready for vacation, traveling through Europe to mark our 30th wedding anniversary (last December) and to do some research for a novel I’m writing.

It’s been unseasonably hot there (no complaints from me, although I’m encouraged that the forecast does not include temps upwards of 100 F, which was the case this past week). Dresses, as a friend observed, are easy. You don’t need to figure out what goes with what. Just slip one on, and you’re ready for the day.

One of the great joys of sewing is feeling luscious fabrics as your create your outfit. I’m working on a pattern for a wrap dress, and I found a buttery soft, beautiful rayon matte jersey print to sew.

I’ve learned from many mistakes that it’s best to test the pattern and any alterations first, before risking the good fabric, and I found some black and white cotton jersey in my fabric stash—perfect for experimenting.

So now the test garment is completed, and it looks and fits well enough to take along on the trip. I cut out all the good fabric and began constructing the second version on Sunday. It sews and serges like a dream, and I’m on schedule for finishing before we leave.

Best of all, my hands are fine. Despite whacking one finger on my serger and pricking another with a pin, they feel good as I write. I sew mostly by machine. The serger, which sews, trims and overcasts seams all in one step, is a tremendous help, saving time and extra hand motions. Even though it requires a lot of care when threading (and can be persnickety if I miss a step), it is a real boon. My other essential tool is a good pair of bent-nose tweezers, which helps with all the tiny manipulations I can no longer do with my fingertips.

I was marveling at the fact that my hands aren’t sore after all that work, and then I realized that fewer bandages really do make a difference. I’m so used to having at least four or five fingers wrapped to protect sore ulcers that going bare is full of surprises.

Travel will undoubtedly cause me to revert to more digital protection. I have all my supplies plus antibiotics ready, just in case. But in the meantime, I am savoring the freedom and enjoying the feel of wonderful fabric. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to sew this much, successfully—a real summertime treat.

Evelyn Herwitz blogs weekly about living fully with chronic disease, the inside of baseballs, turtles and frogs, J.S. Bach, the meaning of life and whatever else she happens to be thinking about at livingwithscleroderma.com.


  1. Pat Bizzell says:

    So happy to hear that you are able to complete these sewing projects, Ev. I know you are a talented fabricator of garments, whether sewn or woven. And won’t it feel good to look elegant in Europe in your own creations?! 🙂

    • Thanks, Pat! As I was looking at the fabric yesterday, it reminded me of my grandmother, who was so European in her tastes. Didn’t realize it when I bought it, but so appropriate.

  2. Kathy Pulda says:

    So glad you are able to sew and create for yourself. I have long given up sewing anything for myself bc of the fitting. Great idea to try out the pattern first with different fabric. Enjoy wearing your new dress and have a wonderful trip!

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