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. 


I am so sorry you had this accident.

I sliced off the top of my left index finger 3 years ago. I still don’t have the full feeling back though my nail looks normal, my finger pad is angled.

I was alone in my sewing room, bright light on my table, no jewelry, I had just put in a new blade in my cutter, but I was rushing, the ruler slipped and my finger was off the edge. I now go slower, and make sure my fingers are away from the edge. Trying to learn from my accident. The ER nurse told me that they see these accidents quite often.

Good to remind people on how to stay safe.
Quiltd Studios replied:
I’m sorry that happened to you, it really is traumatic! I think my finger will have a bit of an angle too, I love what you added, make sure your fingers aren’t anywhere near that blade!!



Oh my! I had a similar experience a month ago…I was on a “roll” cutting out a quilt, and had one block left to cut out. In a matter of seconds, I went from anticipating sewing the blocks I had just cut out to screaming so loud I’m sure they heard me across town. My hand slid completely over the top of my rotary cutter (old mat…also not good safety/dulling blade on the rotary cutter/probably too anxious to be done the cutting and getting on with the sewing). I looked down to see what made me scream and saw a large chunk of my index finger pad was hanging by a thread and blood pouring out of my finger. I still really had no idea what had happened. I texted my daughter and took a shaky picture of my finger to ask if I needed stitches (she is a doctor and was 45 mins away at work) and she said “yes”…but, I was alone and had no one to drive me and it was a miserable, stormy day. I opted to push the flesh back into place and tightly bandage myself instead. Long story short…you really miss that finger on your hand in ways you can’t imagine once it’s not useable. Weeks of not being able to sew/or even hold anything properly, washing my hands was interesting, as was showering with the bandages to keep dry. I have started back to sewing a month later, but with a fresh blade in the rotary cutter, and a new rotating mat and a lot more respect for what can happen to even “seasoned” quilters. I am much more mindful of how I position my hand on the cutter now and don’t use my index finger on top of the grip on the handle (exactly how you are doing in the opening picture of this post actually). Thank you for sharing your story, I see a pair of klutz gloves in my near future.
Quiltd Studios replied:
Oh my goodness Katrina your story made me cringe (and relive my experience), I’m glad you’re on the mend!!! It’s been interesting trying to do things with one hand, I think the hardest is washing my hair!!



Ahhhh yes, the rotary cutter removed part of my middle finger on the left hand. That little part that I lost didn’t grow back and still has some interesting sensations even 20 years later. Moral of the story, replace those dull blades and concentrate, concentrate, concentrate on what you’re doing just as Jess has written!

Laura B

As someone who has survived 2 trips to the emergency room from rotary cutter attacks, I wish you a speedy recovery. Good for you for the tips on safety with a rotary cutter it should be read by everyone. The most important is always pay attention and don’t cut while partying, talking or listening for the oven timer. And wear shoes that cover the top of your foot…the rotary cutter can stab and make a substantial wound (I know this from experience and four stitches)
Thanks again for the good info.
Quiltd Studios replied:
Yes to all of this! Partying and rotary cutting do not mix! :D I’m glad you’ve survived the attacks, us survivors must stick together!


Tina Sherbert

Ouch! So sorry this happened to you, but glad you are healing. Think I will get a pair of cutting gloves. Thank you for this safety reminder.

Mary Teague

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