Free Motion Quilting-How YOU Can Learn From My Injury

Good Morning, Quilters!  Thank you so much for all your kind wishes, prayers and wit following my recent injury. Your support and humor helped me pass the painful stage more quickly…Someone even volunteered to do my dishes for me!  Now that’s loyalty!

Free Motion Quilting, The Egg and Dart pattern

I was back to free motion quilting by Friday,  but as I stitched I was mindful of the way I work.  I paid close attention to my movements.  One thing was very clear–my hands are under or near the needle very frequently when I free motion quilt.  I am constantly reaching under the needle to grab the bobbin thread or to snip the tail.  I always hold the threads as I begin quilting to prevent jams.   With my hands that close to the needle, all it takes is a small foot movement…the needle comes down with great force!

Both of my needle injuries occurred when I was either stopping or starting to quilt–that is when I reach toward the needle.

I am making three changes as a result of recent duel with my sewing machine:

  1. I will use a pair of long tweezers whenever I reach for my sewing threads.
  2. Each time I stop stitching, I will move my foot off of the foot pedal.
  3. I will wear glasses whenever I am sewing. ( In case a needle breaks and becomes a missile…)

In light of my recent mishap, and from reading all of the comments about others who have had similar injuries, I hope you will all develop a new respect for sewing machines.

Take a few minutes to analyze how you work.  Are you putting yourself in harm’s way?  Are there any changes YOU could make to your work habits that could make YOU safer?  Please share your thoughts and comments...

Thank you to our Veterans!  We are so grateful for your service and your sacrifice!


PS…The free motion quilt sample above was stitched on Bernina 820 with Sulky thread on top and Aurifil thread in the bottom with an amazingly strong  #80 Universal Schmetz needle-with Warm and Natural batting.  The Egg and Dart tutorial can be found HERE.


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!