Ouch! A Sewing Injury

I’m a little embarassed to tell you what I did to myself yesterday. My day started with cupcakes and coffee for breakfast, then a little sewing – not a bad start! I was making progress on the men’s shirt project and thought I could even finish it up by the end of the day… that is, until I burned my hand on my sewing machine!

You may be wondering how that’s even possible. I have both my serger and sewing machine on a little table, so often I move them around so I have enough space to work around them. I’d been sewing all morning, so when I picked up my machine to move it, even though the light was off the bulb was still hot.

I’m a wee bit clumsy and I’m sewing under a deadline, so I didn’t even think when I picked up the machine, and stuck my finger right on the bulb. Of course, I was lifting, so the full weight of the machine pushed the hot bulb against my finger. And boy, did it hurt!! Those tiny bulbs get real hot for such a small light.

What’s worse than the pain, is the frustration of not being able to do anything! I’m a non-stop kind of person. I like to keep busy! I have four days now to finish the Christmas shirt, and this big bandage is slowing me down!

Although, it’s probably a good thing to be forced to relax now and then. I just wish I’d finished the shirt first!

What’s your worst (or weirdest) sewing injury? I asked the question on my Facebook page and I’m definitely not the only one who’s had a sewing accident! People have sewn through their fingernails and stabbed themselves with sharp snipping scissors. We can all relate to aches and pains from bending over a too-low cutting table!

How about you – what damage have you done to yourself while sewing? (And what was worse: dealing with the pain, or the frustration of not being able to sew?)

Wishing you an accident-free Monday!


41 Responses to Ouch! A Sewing Injury

  1. Claire (aka Seemane) December 20, 2010 at 6:21 am #

    Ouch!! :(
    I’ve never had a “proper” sewing related injury (other than pricking my fingers when hand sewing).

  2. HipDroppedStitches December 20, 2010 at 6:22 am #

    My worst sewing related injury happened when I was using my rotary cutter. It took so long to lay out this particular fabric and pattern pieces that, even though I realized I would be cutting at an awkward angle, I did not want to do it all over again. I leaned far over the table to make a cut… of course, my hand slipped… and the rotary cutter went right up the side of my pinky finger. Now I always take the time to move things around so I am cutting safely!

    I hope your finger heals quickly (and that you are able to enjoy the “downtime” while it heals)!

  3. magdamagda December 20, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    so sorry for you:( but you know, this comes with the territory..I don’t think there’s any amazing seamstress out there who never had a sewing injury… wishing you that it never happens again and you get that finger “back on its feet” asap;)

  4. louise December 20, 2010 at 6:30 am #

    oh tasia that sounds sore, poor you, i hope it heals quickly.
    other than stabbing myself with the odd pin – TOUCH WOOD – i’ve no major sewing injuries to report. i did manage to close one finger, yes just the one, in the door of a cab on the first night of my holidays this summer and had to be carted off to hospital to get it stitched up so i feel your embarrassed finger pain :)

  5. Amy December 20, 2010 at 6:30 am #

    When I was in school I used a rotary cutter a lot and twice my senior year I rolled right over my finger with it. The worst part wasn’t the pain *or* being hindered in sewing. It was getting blood on my limited, expensive fabric when I couldn’t just run out and get more!

  6. Suzy December 20, 2010 at 6:36 am #

    Oh no, hope you get well soon!! I know what you mean though, I also move my machine around and one too many times have I put my fingers on the bulb. Never burned me badly though.

    I’m very clumsy and regular sewing related injuries are with needles and pins. No matter how many times it happens and how careful I am, I routinely “stab myself” with pins, mostly in hands.

  7. monkeysocks December 20, 2010 at 6:48 am #

    Pretty much the first thing I did when setting up my new machine was half slip the needle when untangling the thread I’d just done wrong so that my finger was impaled and jammed between the needle and feed dogs. I had to pluck up the nerve to shove it almost right through my finger pad to get free!

    Hope your finger heals -but don’t start too quickly-I had to help my mum cut herself out of her machine when she had accidentally sewn her wrist support bandage into a dress she was making!

  8. K-Line December 20, 2010 at 6:49 am #

    I burned myself on my iron and I still have the scar. I’ve also cut my finger on my rotary cutter. Recently, I actually pierced my thumb with my seam ripper (that one was a bitch). Now that I think about it, I’ve got to be much more careful!

  9. Clare December 20, 2010 at 7:00 am #

    My worst was a few months ago; I sewed right through my index finger and then flinched and pulled my hand away really fast, meaning a rip in my finger AND a broken needle. I had to go to hospital to get an xray and have all the bits of metal taken out. Horrible! I also stab myself with pins and needles all the time. I’m far too clumsy!

  10. Amy December 20, 2010 at 7:19 am #

    I have a worm-shaped scar on my forearm from burning it with an iron! I also speared my finger with a seam ripper last week, and took out a chunk of skin on my thumb on the thread cutter on my machine. My sewing room is dangerous, too! I always wear shoes or I’ll inevitably step on a pin.

  11. Jennifer Starman December 20, 2010 at 7:40 am #

    My worst sewig injury would also be sewing through my finger. WIth an Industrial Machine. Because they have a needle that is nearly like a finishing nail, it just ripped through my finger tip and the nail when I yanked my finger back. I should have WCB’d it a little, but at the time I was so proud to have my first sewing injury I couldn’t stop showing people how icky it looked.

    I’m always stabbing myself with pins and needles or touching my iron with the back of my hand. My middle name is NOT Grace, buy DH calls me that anyway.

  12. Rebekah December 20, 2010 at 8:20 am #

    Hi Tasia,

    What a terrible thing to happen! I do hope that the shirt becomes a reality soon even with your injury. :(

    I do A LOT of stupid, idiotic things whilst sewing and many of which happen around the good o’ jolly iron. But they never really slowed me down. The only thing that became a true obstacle for me happened a couple years ago during August. I live on a fruit/vegetable farm so I have to pick a lot of sweet corn during July, August, and September. So I was going at a good, steady pace that one August day, when the shank of a corn cob slit my palm from thumb to wrist. I wasn’t able to do anything–sewing or knitting! Truly heartbreaking. It was not good timing either, for I had a knitting order to fill.

    But I waited three days (or something like that), and I was back in action! So there is my little story of being restricted from sewing. Pass the Kleenex! :)


  13. Sarah December 20, 2010 at 8:33 am #

    Oooh!! Ouch! Ouch!

  14. Clare December 20, 2010 at 8:45 am #

    I hope your finger gets better quickly – you don’t want that slowing down your shirt progress! Apart from many pin / needle stabbings, I once tried ironing the lumpiness out of a back centred zip on a bias cut skirt which I happened to be wearing at the time. It didn’t seem to be working so I added a blast of steam, resulting in a huge blistery burn on my backside. I still have a shadowy patch there apparently! Recently, I sliced open the arch of my foot on the point of a plastic set square that I’d left lying on the floor and tripped on. I’ve never thought about the dangers of rotary cutters but looks like they’re responsible for a number of sewing accidents!

  15. Valerie December 20, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    My worst happened with the rotary cutter as well. Just like my granny always told me…don’t ever try to watch TV and do anything related to sewing at the same time!

    Burns are the worst though – hope you heal up quickly!

  16. Sue December 20, 2010 at 9:08 am #

    I hope you are healing quickly. I am looking forward to working on my blouse in Januayr.

    My worst injury was breaking the needle off in my finger and having to go to the dr to remove it. I have burned myself with my iron so often I don’t even notice any more. My daughter cut the tip off her finger off with her rotary cutter the day before her wedding.

  17. Karin van D. December 20, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    Ouch!! I think the worst injury so far during sewing was when I was pressing a garment during the sewing process. I was a bit in a hurry, didn’t look out very well, I put the garment in a weird angle on the ironing board and then it slipped off. I tried to grab it and pull it back on, without looking at where my iron was and then my arm got stuck against it. Weird story, I know, but I can’t explain it better. Afterwards I didn’t even really understand how I did it either.. Ouch. I still have the huge scar to show, it was pretty ugly.

    Anyway, it comes with the job I guess ;-) I hope your finger will feel better again soon, so you can sew again!

  18. Shannon December 20, 2010 at 10:19 am #

    Oh darn, burns are the worst, especially on the fingers. It’s hard to keep them properly bandaged and we use them so much, it takes a while to heal. Hopefully this happened on your non-dominant hand so you can still get your Christmas shirt done. My worse sewing injury was also leaning my forearm against a very hot iron. Thankfully, I don’t have a tendency to scar, but it took forever to heal.

  19. Jaime December 20, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    OUCH! I burned my arm on an iron so bad the injured area changed colors a couple of times throughout the healing. :/ I know what you mean about liking to stay busy and how frustrating it must be to be not to be able to work at full throttle, so hope it heals quickly!

  20. Funnygrrl December 20, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    Poor you! And I’m feeling nauseous from reading all the comments. I have pricked myself while handstitching and bled on my garment. It was awful!
    What about stepping on pins in the carpet? What do people with kids and animals do?!

  21. jadestar December 20, 2010 at 11:52 am #

    Oh, you poor thing. Hope you still manage to get the shirt finished. It must be so frustrating to be so close and yet so far. Worst things I’ve ever do, probably multiple burns on my arms from brushing against the iron while pressing ‘in a hurry’. I had scars for a while (nothing major), but luckily they have faded now. There is of course the continuous skewering of myself on the pins too ;p

    Have just finished reading through all your past entries. Its been really interesting watching you build up to where you are now. Congrats on starting a business. I hope it really takes off. Being a pear, I know that there is definitely a gap in the industry that you are filling. Can’t wait to see what you come up with for the coat pattern.

    Thanks for the fun reading!

  22. Mandy December 20, 2010 at 12:44 pm #

    Ick! All these sewing injuries are giving me the heebie jeebies! I just wanted to say I noticed the bandage was on a certain finger of your left hand, and I hope Mr. Sewaholic wasn’t planning on surprising you with something sparkly for that hand for Christmas!

  23. quietandsmalladventures December 20, 2010 at 2:10 pm #

    oh gosh, anything happening to your fingers is painful!! cheers to a speedy healing process. as for my sewing related issues, i’ve had the usual pin and needle sticks, minor ironing burns and the worst was a stiff neck from leaning over my bench at work (i work in a lab) and then over the sewing machine. i was worried i’d slept on it funny until i realized it was work/sewing over-neck-use!

  24. Thistle December 20, 2010 at 2:23 pm #

    In 7th grade home ec. I put a needle through my finger! My mom had already taught me how to use her machine so I was feeling pretty cocky and somehow didn’t notice that my hand was getting too close to the needle… My teacher was unfazed and just turned the wheel to get it out and gave me a band-aid. I think that kind of thing happened pretty regularly.

    That bandage looks intense! I hope you heal fast and get lots of work done on the shirt.

  25. KathleenS December 20, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

    Like everyone else I’ve done the things with needles and fingers. The most inconvenient injury wasn’t actually done by sewing; it just got very in the way of sewing for a deadline. Like you, it was Christmas presents for my two nieces, four (small) garments. I hit my right elbow on a chest of drawers and it was several days, maybe a week, before I could use my right arm at all. Meanwhile I was looking at the unfinished Christmas presents and wondering whether I could successfully direct my husband in how to finish them!

  26. lap December 20, 2010 at 3:50 pm #

    In school I sewed my finger on the industrial straight-stitch machine. And then I did it again about 8 months later. Yep, lots of folks had done it once, but I was the only person who did it twice. Right through the nail. I only had eyes for my stitching.

  27. Patty December 20, 2010 at 3:59 pm #

    ouch! I hate burns! Like everyone else, I continually stab myself with pins, but also as a hand quilter I’ve sewn my fingertips to quilts many, many times – no blood, but if you hit your fingertips at just the right angle, you can really get your skin securely attached to the fabric! And then you have to decide between pulling the thread through (feels really weird) or yanking the thread out, which tears the skin and hurts!

    Also – this isn’t exactly an injury, but I am a recovering nail biter and still go after my thumbs every once in a while – and inevitably, I chew them too short, the little edges get snagged in fabric and tear (OUCH) so I have to put a bandaid on and it’s HARD to sew with bandaids on your thumbs!

  28. learningnewtricks December 20, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    In sewing class a bunch of ladies shared how they had sewn the needle into their fingers, and many had also had to seek medical emergency care. Oc course, my daughter had to pipe up and tell them I had just sewn the needle into my thumb a few days earlier. I, too, was cocky that such a thing could ever happen to me — live and learn. Even after sewing it into my thumb, once I finally freed my thumb, back I was at sewing, but with some humility. Just like everyone else, iron burns are not uncommon accidents. I keep a can of Solarcaine Burn Relief in my sewing basket to use for the worst burns. Still, burns and sewing my thumb don’t keep me from sewing. Sorry to hear your recent burn occurred at such an inopportune time. Look forward to seeing the final project, and I wish you a lot of luck on your new business. Being an X shape, would your patterns also flatter other shapes, or are adjustments needed. Hope your Christmas is wonderful, restful, and safe.

  29. Mav December 20, 2010 at 5:09 pm #

    Ouch, hope it heals quickly! I’m a beginner but had many needle pricks and the needle going through my finger as a kid so try to be super careful but accidents happen.

  30. Jessica December 20, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    My sewing injuries aren’t so bad, but I did once literally impale my foot with a double pointed knitting needle. I live in fear of sewing over my finger! I hope you feel better soon – it’s so annoying to be unable to work!

  31. vwbug December 20, 2010 at 5:47 pm #

    My worst sewing accident was done by my best friend. I was teaching her to sew and she was cutting out a pattern. I layed my hand down on the pattern ahead of where she was cutting. She looked up at me to hear what I was saying but didnt stop cutting. She ended up cutting the skin between my thumb and finger. needles to say we made sure to stop what we were doing before I went on to explaine anything else.

  32. Carrie December 20, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

    I jammed a pair of fabric shears into the side of my knee…. I was sitting on the floor with my knees bent in front of me and the shears in my hand, lowered my knees out to the side, the right one right on top of the point of the shears. Those suckers are SHARP!

  33. Corinne December 20, 2010 at 7:04 pm #

    I think I have burned, stabbed, pricked, and sliced plenty, my worst was snipping into the skin between my thumb and index finger too. Always brag about how sharp those scissor were! Lots of blood, slow to heal because of where the injury was. The most expensive injury was watching a new, very pricey, industrial iron dive from the ironing board, point first into my foot, all by itself! Major damage to iron, lots of pain and bruising to foot, and significant damage to ego. People are amazed at how dangerous my little “sewing projects” are! Dear Tasia, I hope your burn heals quickly so that you can get back to work. Watch our for scissors that snap like alligators and irons that fly like dive-bombers too.

  34. just chic December 20, 2010 at 8:09 pm #

    Try to enjoy the days away from your sewing machine, I’m sure you’ll find something else to keep you busy. It’s a very busy period after all :)
    I’ve never had a real sewing inquiry and hope not to experience any in the near future :)
    Take care of yourself!

  35. Eline December 20, 2010 at 11:53 pm #

    Get well soon!
    I have had my share of sewing injuries as well. You mentioned it: a too low cutting table. A couple of weeks ago, I was cutting some fabric for a Christmas present and suddenly… I couldn’t move anymore. So I stayed in my precarious position for about n20 minutes until I decided to face the horrors of the pain and sit down. But I couldn’t get up anymore. And the following morning… well I had to call the school where I teach to tell them that I couldn’t come to work. I had to stay home for four days! Horror! I like to keep busy as well and feeling ok, but not being able to move is just downright horrible..
    The curse of the Christmas presents.

  36. Serendipity Handmade December 21, 2010 at 12:11 am #

    Hi Tasia — would it help you to know that I sustained an injury too last week? The machine took a little chunk out of the knuckle of my thumb. I can’t even explain how it happened. But a burn — those are nasty! I do hope that it will heal quickly. Maybe some “forced” rest at this time of year is a blessing in disguise?

    I hope that you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy (and safe!) New Year!

  37. Fourth Daughter December 21, 2010 at 3:35 am #

    Ouch! I often scratch myself with pins when trying my creations on and don’t realise until I’m under the shower… water on scratches hurts!
    When I brought my machine back from Japan I nearly had a major electrical disaster as I just plugged it in with a converter at the wall and started sewing … then noticed smoke coming out of the light bulb! I hurriedly turned off the machine, sought an electrician’s advice, and plugged it in to a TRANSFORMER. Not before managing to ruin my (NEW) special straightening hairdryer by performing much the same foolishness though.

  38. G December 21, 2010 at 6:49 am #

    You’re in good company: http://clairekennedydesign.typepad.com/the_atelier_of_claire_ken/2010/12/ouch.html
    Feel better soon!

  39. shimmyalley December 22, 2010 at 4:16 am #

    Ouch! How we suffer for our passions!
    Sending healing vibes your way, Tasia.

    I’m always stabbing myself with pins, usually only with blood if I’m working with white fabric. I’ve had numerous burns to my hands and arms with irons. I find steam is far worse than actually touching the iron though. And I have touched the light on the sewing machine before, but nothing as bad as this.

    In 15 years I’ve had two major sewing injuries. First off I have RSI in my right wrist/thumb/fingers. This came about after doing too many 40+ hours weeks at work. Sewing 8 hours a day, everyday, can really strain the body. When I first did this I couldn’t even use my right hand to write for 2 weeks, let alone sew. Sad times.

    More recently, while unpicking with my snips – I find seam rippers too slow and unreliable – I slipped and hit my left wrist. It hurt so much I immediately dropped the snips and clamped my other hand on my wrist. When I lifted my hand to see the damage, blood spurted from my wrist. It was like a bad horror movie. I protested to my co-workers that once bandaged up I would be ok. They called me a taxi for the doctor, thankfully, as within 10mins I was ready to pass out. The swab of antisceptic was the most painful though, as the cut was over 1cm deep. Getting the stitches was the fun part as the doctor and I discussed varying stitches while he sewed me back together. Miraculously, no garments were stained as a result of this injury. And 3 days later I was sewing again!

  40. The Slapdash Sewist December 22, 2010 at 8:11 am #

    I knelt into a pin a few months back. It went so deep into my knee that it took a fair amount of force to pull it back out. It was so gross. My forearms are crisscrossed with faint iron scars (and my upper arms with scars from pulling hot cookie trays out of the oven–I am amazed by how many times I have burned myself in that operation).

    I am paranoid about how hot the lightbulbs on sewing machines get and turn the light on only when I’m actually sewing, turning it off to press or pin the next seam.

  41. hannah January 6, 2011 at 5:03 pm #

    Hey, I just found this wonderful blog today. Neat patterns! I find this post very relatable and the comments… disturbing. I have plenty of stories all my own. Countless cuts, even sewed through my finger. The worst, however, was when I sewed over a pin and my sewing machine needle broke and flew into my eye. It literally was sticking out of the white of my eye. Thankfully it was the middle section of the needle, not the point. If it had been the point it may have penetrated beyond my capability of getting it out. I tried to stay calm and used some tweezers. It was all good. I wear safety glasses when I sew now… I suggest you all do the same :o)