How To Prevent Common Quilting Injuries


Sharps are the cause of wounds in quilting, some minor, some serious.  Here we cover the types of wounds and their prevention.

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How To Prevent Common Quilting Injuries

A sharp is an edge or point able to puncture or pierce something. That's what makes them able to sew because they can puncture the cloth. In this article, we will cover needles, pins, and rotary cutters.

How To Prevent Common Quilting Injuries



We've all stuck our fingers with a needle. I'm pretty sure that's why thimbles came into being. We certainly don't treasure our modern needles as our forebears did. In those days, the lady of the house kept her needles in a case safely away from children, animals, and other curious beings. This needle case dates to around 1930. Nowadays, we have multiple needles for multiple purposes and we may not keep them all together in a safe case. Where are yours?

needle case



Most of us keep our pins in a pin cushion to keep them handy when needed. My cat loves to pull the pins from the pin cushion delicately with her mouth and drop them on the floor. My friend's cat also pulls the pins, but she presents them to her owner. Can a cat or dog or human swallow a pin and injure themselves? The answer is a resounding Yes!



An article published in Lung India in 2020 studied 30 cases of inhalation of scarf pins often worn by Muslim women. In each of these cases, the victim reported holding the pins in their teeth and talking, laughing, coughing, sneezing, or taking a deep breath at the time of inhaling the pin. The pins in question were 2-3 cm long and made of metal with a colored plastic head. (Sound familiar?) For some, the physicians were able to retrieve the pins with forceps and in some cases, they had to operate. This is an ugly situation in either case and might lead to pneumonia.


So, the next time someone reminds you not to put pins in your mouth, thank them enthusiastically and vow never to do it again!


Rotary Cutters

I placed my rotary cutter on the table but failed to close it for safety. A lady in my Bee called out, "That will be a $1 fine!" I was confused about the fine, so I asked for her story.


"I was taking beginner quilting classes in a local quilt shop. There was a gal that had the bad habit of not closing her rotary cutter; she ended up knocking it off the table and it landed on the top of her foot. She had sandals on and there was blood everywhere! She ended up at the ER getting stitches. So, this became the shop owner's #1 rule. If she found a rotary cutter with the blade open, you were fined $1."


I have sliced off a piece of my thumb and I hear stories almost weekly of others who have as well. The emergency room doesn't need our business, so please think twice, and cut once.


Here are some rules concerning sharps from MedlinePlus.gov, the National Library of Medicine's information site:

  • Do not open the sharp until you need it.
  • Keep the object pointed away from yourself and other people.
  • If the object is reusable, put it in a secure, closed container.
  • Never put your fingers into a sharp's container.
  • Keep the sharp's container handy to your work area.


I created this sharp's container from a plastic dishwasher soap container. The humorous message is meant to make me laugh or smile, which will serve as a reminder to always practice safety.



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The part of a quilt that hangs down the sides of your mattress.
Accessories that are available for sewing machines and are especially made for quilting.
Rotary Cutter
A very sharp tool that looks like a pizza wheel which is capable of cutting through multiple layers of fabric.
Ultra sharp, thin needles used for piecing and doing applique.
Debi Warner
Author and humorist, Debi Warner, retired after many years as a clinical librarian and information specialist. She has her Master’s in Library and Information Science and achieved a Distinguished level in the Medical Library Association’s Association of Health Information Professionals. She has worked on teaching physicians to use computers and electronic resources. She also worked on several grants teaching the public how to use the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus public database and is co-author of several articles on health literacy. She took up quilting after retirement in 2012 and chaired the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Show in 2019. She currently teaches several quilting classes over Zoom and writes for QuiltingHub.
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