A couple of months ago, I cut myself with my rotary cutter, and I couldn’t sew for a few days. I’ve healed and am back in my sewing studio, but my accident got me thinking about sewing safety.
We all know all the fantastic benefits of sewing: stress relief, fun, and making awesome things, but there are some potential hazards that you should be conscious of, like machinery, hot irons, electric cords, sharp scissors, and pins. Read on to see some of our safety tips to keep you sewing out of harm’s way.
Sewing Safely with Your Machine
A sewing machine is essentially a power tool, so you should treat it like one. Respect your machine by applying caution when in use. You wouldn’t operate heavy machinery while drowsy or under the influence, and the same should apply to your sewing machine. One slip, and things can go the wrong way quickly.
Ensure all cords are tucked away neatly to avoid tripping and don’t overload the outlet where you have your machine plugged in. Sewing needs a lot of electrical outlets, from irons, sergers, lights, and perhaps a computer — make sure to spread out the supply to avoid an electrical issue.
Protect Your Eyes
Consider always sewing with a pair of glasses on, too. Things happen, needles break, pins go flying — so it is good practice to protect your eyes while behind the machine.
Practice Pin Safety
If you do a lot of hand sewing and pinning, it is safe to say a prick has happened. Try a thimble while stitching to prevent pokes, and always double-check your garments for loose pins before trying them on. If you need to do a mid-make fitting, use safety pins instead of straight pins to prevent injury.
It’s tough to prevent pins from falling on the floor, so make sure to have slippers or shoes nearby to walk around your studio — you don’t want an accidental pin in your foot, ouch! After every sewing project, survey the floor and pick up any stray pins you see. A great tip is to use a magnet to find the fallen pins.
While you’re sewing, make sure to have a pincushion nearby to gather the pins you take out while stitching and do not put them in your mouth! It may seem like a convenient place to temporarily hold a pin, but the danger is real if you accidentally swallow it.
Sewing Safety While Cutting
Cutting tools like scissors, snips, and rotary cutters are debatably the most dangerous tools in your sewing space. Like knives in your kitchen, you are more likely to cut yourself on a dull blade than a sharp one, so make sure to sharpen your scissors regularly and change your rotary blade often.
Cutting Best Practices
- Cut AWAY from yourself.
- Stand while cutting (your cutting table height should be 4″ shorter than the distance from your elbow bent at 90 degrees to the floor).
- Always close scissors and rotary blades while not in use.
- Store scissors safely in a place where children and pets cannot easily access them.
- When discarding rotary blades, wrap them up securely, so you don’t cut yourself when taking out the garbage.
- If you are accident-prone, you can pick up a pair of cutting gloves to help protect your hands.
Mind the Iron!
Irons can be another dangerous tool in your sewing space, and if not used correctly, they can damage your hands and your garments too! Make sure to set your iron to the appropriate heat setting for your fabric and when adding water into your iron for steam, make sure it is unplugged. When your iron is not in use, unplug and store it away. Never leave your studio with your iron still on and hot, and when in between presses, make sure to tilt it up or place it on an appropriate iron mat, usually silicone.
If you do accidentally touch the iron plate, immediately run your skin under cold water and use an ointment to aid in the healing.
Whole Body Sewing Safety
Taking care of your body during and after sewing is just as important as the safety practices mentioned above. For example, when you are at your sewing machine, make sure that you can sit with good posture and bend your elbow at a 90-degree angle parallel to the floor — you may need to adjust the height of your chair or table to do so .
Stretching for Sewing
After sewing for a while, make sure to take time to stretch. Repetitive sewing activities like cutting, pressing, and sewing build up tension in your body, and it’s very important for self-care (and more pain-free sewing) to stretch it out. Follow #stitchandstretch on social media to get some good stretching ideas.
Outside the sewing studio, yoga is a great practice to help release the body’s tension — check out our Yoga for Sewists ebook!
Invest In an Anti-Fatigue Mat
While standing during your sewing tasks, consider getting an anti-fatigue mat for extra comfort. Some considerations when purchasing a mat are:
- Thickness (should be at least 5/8″ thick)
- Material (make sure it isn’t too soft to allow for decompression; rubber, foam, and gel are good options)
- Grip (check for gripping on the underside to ensure that it won’t slip)
- Edge (a tall, beveled edge will increase tripping hazards, so look for a smooth transition to the floor)
Take Care of Your Hands
Your hands especially build up a lot of tension while performing sewing tasks. Flexing and stretching your fingers produces synovial fluid in joints to keep them limber and relieve pain. Also, take time to stretch out your forearms and calves.
Other Considerations for Sewing Safety
- If you have long hair, put it up in a bun or ponytail.
- Keep healthy snacks nearby.
- Make sure your studio water bottle has a top or lid to prevent spilling (there are a lot of electronics in the sewing space!).
- If you have a minor accident and bleed on your fabric, your saliva removes your blood from textiles.
- SLOW DOWN. It’s not a race — the calmer and more relaxed you are in your sewing space, the less likely you are to have an accident.
- Have fun!
We hope these ideas help you with sewing safety in your studio! If you have a safety tip to share, leave it in the comments!