Inattentive Quilting: A Cautionary Tale


Xray  Sewing Machine Needle in Index Finger

I like to say that quilting is in my blood–(My grandmother, mother and sisters are all quilters.)–but now I can say  quilting is in my bones as well!

On Monday, in a rushed, unfocused nano-second, I stitched right through the middle of my nail.  I launched out of my chair and ripped the broken needle out of the pad of my finger.  I quickly wrapped my finger and sat and sulked for a while.

By Wednesday, my finger still throbbing, I decided to see a doctor and get an antibiotic.  The doctor  ordered an x-ray and imagine my surprise when this is what it revealed!

Xray Sewing Machine Needle in Index Finger

Several hours later, I was carted off to the operating room.   The surgeon said the needle went into my bone and shattered.  He found the thread and removed it along with most of the metal shards from the needle, but he was forced to leave a small metal shard embedded in my index finger.

So… six x-rays… thirty minutes of surgery… one small bottle of pain meds… one large bottle of antibiotics…and one tetanus shot later…This is my cautionary tale!

Below –my favorite image-taken during surgery-reveals the thread still attached to the needle!

Xray Sewing Machine Needle in Index Finger

The good news:  Doctors orders:  No dishes for six to nine months!?

My new motto:  Make haste slowly!


171 thoughts on “Inattentive Quilting: A Cautionary Tale

  1. Lori, After reading your post I told my sister about it. You would think that I would have learned from your mistake. I was on my longarm and went to replace a needle. I thought I had hit the button to turn the machine off. Before I could get the needle out the stitch regulator kicked and and stitched the needle through my thumb. All I could do after the shock was think what happened to you. My sister remembering my telling her about your incident rushed over my house in worry. Basically I feel pretty stupid about now. Just thought I’d share and commiserate.

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  3. You both have taught me a good I WILL ALWAYS turn off my machines to change needles…which I’ve never done before!

  4. Gosh! I have that X-ray too! Fresh from the doc’s office now! Uggg. Hope yours feels better fast!!

  5. My needle tip broke between my toes when ironing my wedding dress. Lumped down the aisle. Hurt on Honeymoon. Went to ER found the tip between toes. Made an incision to remove. The surgeon couldn’t find the tip. It had been sucked up in a tube removing blood. I heard it rattling in the suction tube. Dr was order portable X-ray machine. Pain the entire Honeymoon. Bob Hope at Indiana State Fair. Time trial at Indy and squirrel hunting…Joanne

  6. Hi thanks for sharing. I too have been there and done that in fact my xray was very similar. I was the one day wonder of the ER everyone came to take a picture of the needle broken off in my finger with the thread attached Laura. Yes it was only a brief inattentive moment that caused this!

  7. I feel your pain… (or what you felt). I sewed my index finger on a 10 needle embroidery machine and after I finally went for x-rays found that the needle broke off and I have a titanium needle piece almost through the bone. ER dr’s couldn’t/wouldn’t remove it and was forwarded to an ortho surgeon. Did your dr say the needle HAD to be removed? Because I have NO health insurance, no surgeon will see me. It’s been 3 weeks, a tetanus shot and a round of anti-biotics. And no plans of having it removed. I have been googling for days and finally found something relevant in your post. TYIA for any insight.

    • OH NO, Teresa! I am so sorry! I can not offer you any medical advice, of course. I do know that once I got into surgery, the doctor said the thread that was still attached to the needle would have been a big problem later-chance for infection, etc. The surgeon was unable to retrieve all of the small shards and left a few small pieces. You must be in a lot of pain! My finger, even with surgery took months before it felt better…You are in our thoughts and prayers! Please keep us updated.

  8. I had a similar experience because of going barefoot in my sewing room. I of course knew I had stepped on a pin but did not know it had broken off in my toe. I ended up with cellulitis, antibiotic, surgery. I was a diabetes educator and always cautioned my patients not to go barefoot. Had I had diabetes, I probably would have lost that toe.

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  11. My mother had the same experience including surgery & 3 days in the hospital. Thanks for warning people.

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  13. No needle in the finger but I have had stitches twice for rotary cutter mishaps and also shaved the edge of my left index finger (could not be stitched). You think I would learn to be more careful with the rotary cutter by now!

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