I was talking with my friend Darin Andersen at embroidery.com. He said in a recent poll they ran, 50% admitted to sewing through their finger with their sewing or embroidery machine.
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I fell into those who have; Darin was in the have nots. Even before our conversation, I was recently reminded of my overly close encounter with the needle while threading up my new >Babylock Ellisimo.
This machine has an amazingly cool automatic threader but one time I was a little too fast and got stabbed by the needle when it lowered. This time only resulted in a little finger prick and a bent needle. I’ve learned to be more patient!
Check out his pic of my husband’s finger after he stitched through it. I had to use pliers to pull out the tip of the needle with the thread still in it. I wasn’t thinking fast enough or I would have gotten the picture just as he pulled it out of the machine. Is your stomach doing flip-flops yet?
What about about you? Have you ever sewed through your finger? In my case, I was sewing on my old mechanical Necchi machine. I remember it as if it were yesterday although it was probably 1991. I was making curtains so I was sewing long lengths of straight stitches. In other words, mindless sewing. The screw used to hold the needle on this machine has a head that sticks on the left side of the machine to make it easy to finger tighten. I had hit my finger several times in the 20+ years I had been sewing on that machine while guiding fabric under the needle. (I have a better technique now…). I tell you this because when the needle went through my fingernail—and yes, the mere recollection of that incident still causes my stomach to flip-flop!—I thought it was only a screw hit.
Fortunately, my subconscious is a lot sharper than my conscious and it commanded my foot to instantly jump off the foot pedal. Moments later, blood was spurting from my finger.
My Necchi stopped sewing as soon as it had no more “gas”—when I lifted my foot off the controller. I still didn’t realize I had sewn my finger, yes it hurt but I was more concerned about blood spatters on my project. The blood was also an indication that maybe it was something a little more serious than I initially suspected…
It took a few seconds for everything to sink in. Fortunately, my tetanus shots were up to date.
Don’t believe the internet wives tale about a sewing needle being sterile because of the friction it creates. Yes, it does create friction, which generates heat, but not enough to be sterile!
Keep in mind you’ve just injected yourself with whatever microscopic critters happen to be along for the ride on that shaft of metal. Also, you now have a puncture wound, a perfect breeding ground for those critters to happily procreate and potentially turn into some hideous flesh-eating monster.
I my case, I sewed through the finger nail and completely through my finger. I was lucky though. LUCKY?!?!?! How can that possibly be lucky?
I’ll tell you how: the needle did not break off in my finger and the needle entirely missed the bone. I also did not lose my finger nail. I just had a neat, round hole about a quarter of the way in from the thumb side of my fingernail that eventually just grew out. A small hole that bled a lot and hurt like #%$!!!
This is when I made another discovery.
Cocktail ice cubes are perfect first aid pain relievers. You know, those little plastic things, often in fruit slice shapes and colors, filled with liquid that you freeze and put into drinks to keep them cold without diluting them? (I’ve actually never used them for that…)
They are perfect for boo-boos. I sandwiched my finger between two “lemon slices” and then tied it in place, No dripping, no melting, no retying. When they lost their cool, I swapped them for two more chilled ones.
SOME SAFETY GUIDELINES
In my 12 years of owning and running Cactus Punch, we only had one sewn finger incident and she was defying the rules for the machine room:
- No bare feet (sounds obvious, but this rule came because there were bare feet…),
- No fingers near the needle when the machine is operating (some operators liked to thread multi-needle machines while sewing to save time)
- No machine operating if you were the only person in the building (ok, so I was exempt from that rule…). This rule might sound extreme, but there was a possibility, albeit remote, that someone could sew themselves, get stuck, and not be able to get help. It’s bad enough if its you and your own company, but you don’t want this nightmare happening to an employee—who could then make a bigger nightmare for you!
So beware of shiny, pointy objects! Pay attention when sewing, no sewing under the influence. If you do sew through your finger, take proper precautions and guard against infections.