6 Tips for Quilting Safely (And Avoid an ER Visit)

Ask me why I’m writing this blog post.. And I’ll give you one hint: it involves a visit to the ER. 

I’ve been quilting since I was little, often using sharp instruments, scissors, rotary cutters, hot irons, sharp pins, etc. and I’ve truly never injured myself in any meaningful way. 

Until last weekend. 

And now I’m determined to prevent you from your own ER visit. Because it was easily preventable, and yet I never thought to implement safety measures BEFORE getting injured. Read on to get the whole story (if you're not squeamish!).

So learn from me, and then you won’t have to write a blog post with 9 fingers because one of them is bandaged!

Quilting Safety

Quilting is not just a fun activity but also a great way to express our artistic side. Aside from that, it also provides a creative outlet and helps reduce stress.

However, like any other hobby, quilting presents some risks that we should be aware of.

So let’s discuss some of the best practices to follow to stay safe while quilting. 

Wear Appropriate Attire

Quilting sometimes involves the use of sharp tools and needles, so it's important that you wear appropriate clothing while quilting. Avoid wearing loose clothing or jewelry that can get tangled up in the needles or cutting tools.

For instance, loose sleeves may get caught up in the rotary cutter, and jewelry can get stuck in the fabric.

Also, make sure to wear closed-toe shoes or slippers with non-slip soles when quilting. This ensures your feet don't encounter anything sharp or hard.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

Quilting requires focus, but it is crucial to remain aware of your surroundings.

Ensure that your working area is free of clutter, and all the sharps are kept out of reach of children and pets. 

Also, keep liquids away from electronics and electrical cords. Avoid answering phone calls or checking your phone while using sharp tools.

Use Proper Lighting

Proper lighting is essential to avoid straining your eyes while quilting or making any unnecessary slips while cutting or sewing.

It's best to use natural light if your quilting space permits it. If not, invest in bright, adjustable lights that allow you to direct the light to where it is required.

I have the Stella Two light and I absolutely love it!! Some other options are Ottlite and The Daylight Company

Using a Sharp Rotary Cutter or Scissors

Using the right cutting tools is critical for quilting safely.

To avoid accidents, keep all cutting tools in their sheaths (or with the safety covers on) when not in use. Also, keep them out of reach of children and pets. When cutting, use a cutting mat to protect your work surface from marks and scratches.

A sharp rotary cutter or a pair of scissors makes the job easier and quicker. Rotary cutters are so handy, but also dangerous!

Make sure to close your rotary cutter immediately after using. Using a suction handle on rulers can ensure your fingers aren’t near any blades, as well as using cutting gloves.

Replacing your blade often can help make cuts fast and easy rather than a dull blade that requires multiple passes.

Protect Your Eyes

Protecting your eyes is critical when quilting. I don’t know anyone who wears safety goggles while sewing, BUT if you have a habit of sewing over pins, maybe you should be!

Sewing over pins can cause broken needle ends to fly at you (eyes, face, etc.). So be safe.

Maintain Good Posture

Quilting involves sitting for long periods, and maintaining good posture is essential to prevent back and neck pain. Use a comfortable and adjustable chair with back and arm support. 

Take regular breaks to stretch and relax your back and shoulders.
Quilting is my favorite creative outlet, however It's important to enjoy it while being mindful of the risks involved.

The Accident That Could Have Been Avoided

Last weekend I was with a friend in my sewing room, we were casually talking while I worked on a project.

While making a cut, the rotary blade jumped up on my acrylic ruler and before I knew it, half of my fingertip was sliced off. I’ll spare you most of the gory details, but I'm really grateful quilty husband works at the hospital and was able to get me right in to see a doctor. 

So after a visit to the ER, an orthopedic surgeon and many painful days of recovery, I can say that good safety habits are definitely worth your time and effort!

My fingertip has thankfully begun to heal (did you know they grow back?!), but I'm sad that it even happened in the first place.

I wish I could go back and prevent it from happening in the first place. I certainly won’t be so casual with rotary blades (or anything sharp really) in the future.

Things that contributed to my accident:

  • distraction (I was chatting and laughing with a friend),
  • pressing too hard on the rotary cutter (it was a little dull and needed to be changed),
  • and finally, not using any precautions like a suction ruler holder or cutting gloves. 

And I hope you’ll be more aware of some of these easily preventable injuries. 


Another victim here, I was showing a colleague how to use one of those manual blade sharpener gadgets and somehow it slipped and took a slice into my thumb, a trip to my doctor and a sterile bandage was all I needed but I still have a numb patch. I think I scared my colleague off sharpening blades!

Joanne Chandler

Oh yes, another horror story!
I was happily cutting fabric one late Saturday night when my rotary cutter slipped and cut the tip of my right forefinger off (I’m left handed)! I take a strong blood thinner so you can imagine how the blood flowed and flowed.
I woke my daughter up and she brought me to the ER. The doctor saw me immediately and stitched four sutures on my poor lil finger.
This happened late December 2022 and I still have weird sensations there and can’t do any fine work with it if that makes any sense.
Please be extra careful around rotary cutters! I never thought it could happen to me but it did. I love the tip about the suction handles on the rulers, I use a five pound weight to hold my rulers down…works great and my fingers stay out of the way lol!

Denise Dennison

I am another victim of carelessness, not just once but twice. The first time was probably 6-7 years ago. Making the last cut of the day, I was tired and hungry so decided to fold the fabric again to be faster. As you did, I jumped the ruler and the blade sliced my first finger from below the middle joint to the nail. A trip to Immediate care and stitches was necessary and the inconvenience for several weeks while it healed. Since I have used a rotary cutter since they were invented, I thought I will just be more careful.

Fast forward to 2020 and I was making masks. I had a fresh blade and was just trimming the selvedge off of one fold of fabric. Using a ruler that has a guard in the center to keep my fingers safe, I started cutting and carelessly wrapped my thumb and finger over the guard and naturally zipped the nail and front of my thumb off as well as repeat the first finger only this time it was much deeper and longer. I was now taking blood thinners and so bleeding was way out of control. Neighbor is a retired EMT and I saw him outside and yelled that I needed help. He did the best he could to try to wrap it tightly trying to control bleeding while my daughter arrived to take me to the hospital. Thankfully, she lived less than a mile away. He suggested going to a hospital this time because they would be better prepared to stop the bleeding. It was a mess for them and finally they used some material they use in the military that will stop bleeding. They now sell small packages in First aide sections of drugstores so I keep some here, just in case.

My thumbnail grew back but the flesh behind it did not grow back so now I have a problem trying to pick up pins or tiny things because my thumb is thinner. There was nothing they could do to repair my thumb and they had to glue my finger together because stitching would have caused more bleeding. I now wear the gloves when I use a rotary cutter. Took a bit to get used to them but now I don’t think twice. When you talk about safety, most people think they would never do it but I know a lot of people that have joined our group of safety conscious sewists after they had their accident.

Lois March

It’s sadly very common. I was doing a class about 16 years ago. I was young, but the class was about 99% much older. We were learning how to print on fabric to make memory quilts. The ladies couldn’t understand the technology and the class stalled. The teacher was frustrated and the class was going nowhere, so, frustrated myself, I thought I’d cut my material as she went over the printing process for the 1000th time and I completely cut the top of my thumb off. When I went to ER I truly thought the Dr will never have heard this one before and he told me I was the 2nd that week and his 4th in his career and one lady had lost her toe from dropping her rotary cutter on her foot. My thumb is still numb. Has a telling angle but the nail hides all that. I’m more focused when I use it now! Worst part was our son was in nappies and I had to get my mum in law travel over 1000kms to help as I couldn’t change his nappy & his dad was overseas with work!
Quiltd Studios replied:
Oh my goodness, that is horrific, I’m so sorry that happened to you!!


Kylie Wheatley

So many accidents! A friend came into the fabric store I worked at and asked “How do you like my $40,000 Thumb?” She made a smiliar mistake to yours and other but did not seek attention because it was Friday, cold, etc. She was tyed to a antibiotic drip pole (?) for days, and took months to recover.
Love to see an complete list of all the safety measures, irons, cords, scissors, we could employ.
It’s a jungle in there!
Quiltd Studios replied:
That is one expensive thumb!! I’m glad she’s okay now :)



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