Literally Being on Pins & Needles is Painful
It’s easy to lose track of pins and needles. They end up on the floor or stuck in the most surprising places. You often find them with your bare feet (a 2-inch puncture wound is not amusing). For that reason, it’s safer to wear shoes in the sewing room. But far worse things can happen. Children and pets find them and they go right into their mouths. If I drop a pin or needle, I stop what I’m doing and locate it before doing anything else. I keep a magnet in my sewing kit to attract the elusive ones. Carpeting is the worst surface because pins usually land sharp side up and are especially difficult to see. Always sweep or vacuum if there is any question about lost pins or needles.
I keep a shallow box on the right side of my sewing machine for scissors, rotary cutters, marking pens, pins and needles. It helps me remember where they are, and reduces the chance of these items getting brushed onto the floor (and embedded in my foot) when moving fabric while sewing.
Disposing of Sharp Things
It’s a bad idea to toss sharp things into the wastebasket. Long after you've forgotten you dropped them in there, those discarded sharp things lie in wait ready to stab or cut you. I don't think they do it on purpose, but you never know. Instead, an old spice jar with the shaker holes is a good place to discard worn sewing machine needles, hand needles and pins. Screw the top on tightly when not in use. Discard the whole thing when full. Old rotary blades should be sandwiched between two pieces of cardboard and securely taped shut before discarding.
Irons: Hot & Heavy
An iron accidentally left on is a fire hazard and dangerous to unsuspecting kids and pets who don’t know it’s hot. Some irons have automatic shut-offs, but the minute the iron moves (perhaps not by you, but by your child) it heats right up again. To help remember to turn off the iron, I use a small desk lamp that shines on my ironing board (handy in itself). I turn it on when I turn on the iron. When I turn off the iron, I turn off the lamp. If I see that lamp on, I know the iron is still on.
It’s easy to burn your fingers trying to hold open a seam while ironing. A silicone oven mitt is a useful protector. You can also buy a product called Cool Fingers™that slips over your finger and protects it from heat.
Expect Kids & Pets To Do the Unexpected
If you have pets or young children, you may need to keep them out of your sewing area while you are sewing. Knocking over the ironing board can have serious consequences, and there are plenty of sharp objects, pins and needles and small objects that just don’t mix with pets and small children. It’s impossible to keep your eye on them 100 percent of the time. Not knowing whether Fluffy found that lost pin is worse than seeing it happen! Check out our tutorial on Sewing With Kids Underfoot for more good ideas.
Before You Walk Away, Put Things Away
- Put sharp tools, pins and needles where they can’t be accessed: a locking cabinet or on a high shelf.
- Close your ironing board and put your iron away.
- Turn off, unplug, cover or put your sewing machine away.
- Put your work-in-progress in a safe place.
- Clean up thread, fabric scraps and other small objects. Pets often eat thread and bits of fabric which can lead to an emergency trip to the vet.
With a little prevention, everyone lives happily and pain-free to sew another day.