Sewing Safely-An Update

Xray Sewing Machine Needle in Index Finger

Inattentive Quilting-A Cautionary Tale

This week marks the one year anniversary of My Sewing Accident.

Those of you who were around then will remember I stitched through my nail while sewing a Tuesday Tutorial.  (Yes, I finished the tutorial, took photos and wrote the tutorial…dedication!)

It took me two days to decide a trip to the doctor was in order.  To my amazement, an X-ray revealed the needle was still imbedded in my finger.  I was carted off to surgery to remove the needle and the shattered pieces in the bone.  (Read more:  Inattentive Quilting-A Cautionary Tale)

Since that time, I have received hundreds of e-mails from other quilters and seamstresses who have sewn through their fingers too.  There was even a report about a quilter’s cat who got her paw stitched in a sewing machine!

Prior to last year, I had never had a sewing accident.  The scary thing was…I had stitched through the skin on my other hand the month before.  Clearly, my sewing habits required evaluation! (or my family was going to take my sewing machine away!)

By analyzing my work habits, I realized a few things:

  • A sewing machine is a power tool and deserves respect.
  • When using a darning foot for free motion quilting, the needle is more exposed than in regular sewing.
  • My hands were frequently under the needle to reach short threads.
  • The foot pedal on my sewing machine is very sensitive…a small tap-and DOWN comes the needle.

FMQ Knots the LCK Way


I made a few changes to my work habits that have proven to be safer.

I recommend everyone adopt these two safety precautions:

  • Use  tweezers to reach the threads under the needle.
  • Train yourself to remove your foot from the pedal every time you stop sewing.

Xray Sewing Machine Needle in Index Finger


The first few weeks after my injury were difficult.  My finger was very swollen and sore and I lost my nail.  My whole finger was hyper sensitive and that was more uncomfortable than the pain.  In January, I was referred to Occupational Therapy for an exercise program.

One year later, my nail looks fine, but my finger does not have full range of motion and the last digit remains slightly flexed and stiff.  (Nothing that will prevent me from quilting!)

Free Motion Quilting, Trees, PresentsTHE MORAL OF THE STORY

I hope you will learn from my mistake–and the hundreds of quilters who wrote in to tell their similar stories….

Remember: A sewing machine is a power tool.

Use tweezers and get in the habit of removing your foot from the pedal EVERY TIME you stop sewing.  


Because the surgeon was unable to remove all the shards of metal from the bone, I can now brag that QUILTING IS IN MY BONES!  Not many people can say that!

Safe Stitching,


Doodle to Design on Craftsy

PS…All tutorials, information and images are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog, Pin, or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at  Thanks!

35 thoughts on “Sewing Safely-An Update

  1. I think your blog is well written, however I did the same, about 2 yrs ago. I was one meds for my asthma, that was causing a lot of hand shacking. NO I should not have been operating a POWER TOOL! I sewed over my Left hand ‘pinky’ finger. I was hoarse from the coughing of my Asthma, and couldn’t even call my DH for help. We did go to the ER, and had what they could get out, out. But there is still a small piece in the bone. Pinky fingers are thin, sm bones, I opted to leave it in. I have full range of motion. I guess I was lucky.

  2. Thank you for the update. It serves to drive the message home. It’s one thing to suffer the pain through the recovery period, it’s something else to realize that one may have lifetime consequences.

  3. You must be one tough cookie Lori, waiting two days like that – it boggles the mind when we see your x-ray! I once cut the tip of my finger off with a rotary cutter. It grew back, like a gecko. May we all avoid such injuries in the future!

  4. When I was young I spilled some pins and needles and thought I picked them all off the carpet, Many weeks later my little brother let out a scream as he walked down the hall. We looked and looked but found nothing. His heel continued to hurt him every now and then for weeks. Finally Mom took him to the doctor and had an x-ray. There was a needle embeded in his heel bone. So we can get into trouble many ways.

  5. Ouch! I do remember that very unfortunate incident and have been there (minus the ER visit!). The power foot peddle is the one reminder for myself that is constant. I absolutely forget to move my foot away! Very good warnings/post!!!!!!

  6. OMG, I have thought these are very rare accidents. It seems it is not true, it could happen to any of us. I often forget to remove the foot from the pedal while I have fingers under the needle. Then I realize that I was lucky that the machine didn’t start to sew. Still I don’t pay enough attention to this -not anymore!! Thank you for the reminder.

  7. Thanks for the reminder! After I read your original post a few months ago, I changed a few of my habits. One biggie: I always, always, always turn my machine completely off when I change my presser foot.

  8. Ouch! I haven’t had any accidents yet and hope I don’t. One of my quilt friends however did cut the end of her finger off with a rotary cutter. Yikes. I always think of that when I am cutting. I try to be careful. Thanks for sharing your story so I can be more careful with my machine as well.

  9. Thank you for the update! I have come close…it was a great reminder. I sent your link to all my sewing quilting buddies! A picture is worth a thousand words!

  10. Teaching my 8 year old niece to quilt…I showed her your picture last year. It really helped to show her my point-it can be fun, if you pay attention and remember safety First. So happy it WILL not keep you from your mission and GRATEFUL for your sharing.

  11. I have heard from several reliable sources lately that titanium needles shatter rather than breaking in one place. I have broken a few titanium needles and found this to be true–fortunately, not in my finger, but I am convinced not to use them!

  12. One other caution is having pets under foot. I had a cat who recently passed away that would walk across my Juki’s foot pedal (also has a button for cutting the thread). More than once I had been surprised to suddenly have my machine take another stitch or cut a thread. I was fortunate on more than one occasion to have a quick reaction, but also to not have a finger under the needle when that happened.

  13. While sewing years ago, I was putting pins and needles in the arm of the couch. (Yes, I am from the south so it’s a couch and not a sofa) I was wearing a sweater and as I removed my sweater in the evening, it was caught of the needle that had a small piece of it sticking out of my arm. I had not even felt it as it slid into my arm near the elbow. I was able to just slide it out, but it’s another reminder of needing to be careful with our “weapons”.

  14. The X-Ray with the needle in your finger made me cringe – what an eye opener. We all get careless and especially now with machines which automatically put the needle in the down position when you stop.

    My mom’s best friend was a home ec (do they even teach that any more?) teacher and sewed beautifully. After she retired she still made quilts for charity. She called me in tears because she’d been to the Dr. again about her foot and this time he said they would have to amputate. OMG I went and sat with her, asked a lot of questions & tried to talk things through. I asked her if the X-ray showed anything & she said they hadn’t done an X-ray. WHAT????? Who amputates with no X-ray?

    Long story but she went back to the Dr. and insisted they do an X-ray. Turns out she’d stepped on a needle (walking barefoot on her carpet) and it was embedded in her foot. She had undiagnosed neuropothy so didn’t feel the pain when she stepped on it. The story ends on a good note, but sure makes you aware that you must be vigilent when working with “weapons” (needles) and with doctors.

    As you suggest – ALWAYS take the few seconds to use a tweezer when removing small threads and ALWAYS make sure your machine can’t start sewing when your fingers are in the way. It’s your one year anniversary of the accident and you remember is vividly. It’s something you’ll never forget.

    Tavette – S. Fla.

  15. Still Cringing!!!! Good reminder…I get to hurrying and throw caution to the wind…you are right that needle down spot on our control foot is very sensitive! I’ll practice taking my foot off although I do think of it…your first posts of this stuck with me! That xray is pretty hard to forget! I have come close -hitting the fleshy part with the sewing machine and edges of my fingers from the rotarty cutter but good news is I didn’t bleed on the fabric!!
    Remember safty third!!! LOL…I mean first..safty first. haha!
    Maybe we all need to slow down and enjoy the process and stop the hurrying! That seems to be when I get sloppy with safty.

    • Wow…flashback to a 4-H poster I didn’t spell safety right and an adult traumatized me about it…Lol! Think it gave me a permanent mental block on it .Lol!

  16. Thank you so much for all the inspiration and instruction you give and also for this reminder! I think it’s important not to sew when you’re feeling unwell, upset or distracted. I’ve always been afraid of cutting my fingers with the rotary cutter and am very careful with it. I will now be more respectful of the power of my sewing machine. Thanks again!

  17. Thank you, Lori. Your sharing openly with us will undoubtedly raise awareness of our need to prevent such a significant injury as this. In fact, it would be a good idea for classes and other tutorials to teach the crucial importance of finger safety while sewing. Thank you again for this timely reminder.

  18. My doctor was more concerned about thread being left inside the finger as he felt it harbored more bacteria than the needle. An Xray did not show needle & I got a round of antibiotics as a preventive. Pat

  19. Thank you for this Sewing Safety warning today, and for sharing your experience. I am 68 years old with medical problems. I frequently like to sew when I feel poorly, and I will be mindful to be more careful.

    My fingers don’t get near the needle when I free-motion, because they are holding onto the the free-motion hoops. I like the ones by Gypsy Quilter because they have a nice opening to get them in place.

    I do English paper-piecing. I find it easier to use a very fine, small needle to join them. The needle frequently slips out of my old hands and I have trouble finding it.
    I keep a few magnets around to help find dropped needles and pins.
    I keep the Sewline needle threader in my hand-sewing kit. It has a built-in magnet.
    I keep a telescopic magnet in my sewing machine cabinet to find dropped needles and pins. It is very strong and works beautifully. We got it at the hardware store.

  20. Lori,
    It is interesting to hear of everyone’s experiences. One more cautionary – beware of sewing in bed— I like to applique and did not realize I had misplaced a needle. Unfortunately, my husband found it when it stuck him………. It is always that way, even when I drop a pin, he is the one that “finds” it. We laugh now.

  21. I am so glad it ended well! I have had 4 finger joints replaced because of RA. Things are stiff, fingers mover slower, sewing time is shorter, but as quilting is in my soul, I carry on (wouldn’t we all?). Just can’t seem to stop, I was quilting (poorly) after 4 weeks with my left hand.

  22. Hi Lori,
    I use a tool of dentist to catch the thread under the needle. It has two ends and in one of them a small hook to pull the thread. At the other end, that is curve, with acute tip, serves to hold the fabric near the foot of the machine in place that I whant when I’m sewing little patchs.

  23. My sister stepped on and broke a needle off on her foot and had to have surgery. It was hard to fine since it wasn’t magnetic.

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  25. I remember when you told us about that awful incident. It stunned me to know you don’t have full range any more. I realized recently that I am getting careless about taking my foot off the pedal. Thanks for the re-enforcement of the lesson. I’m glad you can chuckle about it now, and I hope you will be able to get all motion back soon.

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  27. It doesn’t only happen with power machines. I put a needle through my finger with a treadle machine when I was a teenager. It went in right next to the nail in the fleshy part but it still hurt!

  28. Sewed my index finger into a quilt in August, luckily it did not hit the bone, and I didn’t bleed on the quilt! I do NOT use my pedal ~ my Janome has a START button.and that is just as dangerous.

  29. I haven’t sewn my finger, but I did have a seam ripper accident. I tried to catch it with my legs when I dropped it. I was sewing with friends when it happened. I needed a tetanus shot, the wound itself was cleaned and some tape applied to it. I asked if there was any special care needed and was told no, so I went back to sewing with my friends!

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