One person I spoke with said she dropped an open rotary cutter on a lamp cord, resulting in a bit of indoor fireworks. She ended up needing to replace the lamp cord, the outlet, and the rotary blade. She was lucky, however, that nothing caught on fire.
One woman cautioned against ironing without clothes on. (I'll wait for the laughing to die down...) Actually, what happened was she was sewing a garment for herself, and in between trying it on decided to iron the seams and try it on again. She burned herself in the process.
In addition to these, some of the people I spoke with offered words of advice:
- Be aware of what you're working on. When you thread your machine or go near the needle with your finger(s), stop the machine or be sure your feet are away from the pedal. This is especially stressed if you work around industrial machines, because they can start up very quickly.
- If you have long hair, pull it back to keep it from getting caught in the machine's moving parts
- If you are sewing by hand, make use of thimbles. Some people (such as this author) can't stand metal thimbles. I purchase leather ones like this:
- Wear safety glasses. Now, I can already hear a few people moaning about this, but honestly, is your eyesight more important or “looking cool” in a room you're probably sewing all alone in? Some people wear glasses anyway – this is better than nothing, but as previously mentioned, a few women I spoke with actually chipped their daily-wear glasses.
- Don't sew while you're tired or when you've been drinking. You're dealing with sharp objects which can be dangerous to a person who isn't fully paying attention to what they're doing.
- When you're sewing for someone else and pin-fitting them, be careful not to stick the person with your pins.
- Use a magnetic pin cushion to pick up loose pins from the carpet.
- Keep your pets away from your sewing area. Preventing vet bills is easier than diagnosing what happened to them. I realized the importance of this one day when I caught my dog with a 2” long dressmaker pin in his mouth, and he was trying to swallow it. I didn't even know it was on the floor. Now I ban my pets from coming into my sewing room at all.
- Keep your fingers away from rotary blades and open scissors. One woman suggested, “Keep all parts of your hand behind the 1/2” mark on your quilting grid as you apply the rotary cutter.”
- If you're sewing for long periods of time, get up and do some stretches or go for a short walk. Your back will thank you!
- Do not try to catch an iron that is falling to the floor. Do not iron while you are tired. (I recall trying to finish a project in the wee hours of the morning, and grabbed the wrong side of the iron. The palm and fingers on my left hand took weeks to heal.)
- Be aware if you have any allergies to fibers. If you're allergic to wool, you might want to stay away from sewing wools or wool blends. I discovered, after several years of working with fabrics and working in a fabric store for some years, that I have an allergy to the preservatives used on new fabrics. It causes my hands and face to break out. Knowing this, I make sure to prewash fabrics, if possible, before working with them. This is a good practice anyway, but be sure your fabric doesn't say, “Dry Clean Only!”
- Keep sharp tools such as rotary cutters and tracing wheels in a pencil case where they will remain contained until you need them. This will help prevent being cut by accident while rummaging through your sewing box.
- Wear closed toe shoes while you cut patterns and sew. Even more, be sure you are wearing shoes at all! Needles piercing hands and feet were the number one complaint I received.
Special thanks to everyone who spent time talking with me about their experiences with sewing! Do you have another suggestion for our safety list? Tell us about it!
Return to Part 1 of this article