Sewing Machine Safety Tips

Posted by Julia Garza

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Sewing is safer than a lot of things-- operating a motor vehicle, engaging in contact sports, taking a beekeeping class. However, sewing machines do involve electricity, moving parts and sharp needles, so safety is still a concern. Read on for some sewing machine safety tips.

sewing machine safety tips

Keep your fingers away from the needle. The last thing you want is to sew through your finger! Experienced sewists might even be more apt to do this than beginners. You can purchase finger guards from your sewing machine manufacturer, which will help keep your fingers away from the danger area. About 60% of the sewing machine related injuries treated in a hospital each year are puncture wounds from needles.

Minimize distractions, and don't operate your sewing machine when you are tired or under the influence of alcohol. Sewing is a lot easier when you're feeling rested and relaxed, and it's also safer.

Turn off and unplug your sewing machine when you are away from it for more than a few minutes. Sewing machines can generate considerable heat when left on, and a lightning strike when a sewing machine is plugged in can cause irreversible damage. Consider getting a surge protector to plug your machine into, just in case. In addition, a sewing machine that is turned off and unplugged won't be as interesting to small children or pets.

Be mindful of cords. Try to keep cords towards the back of the machine and not draped across the floor where you (or someone else!) is likely to trip over them. If they do need to run across the floor, consider taping them down-- or just find somewhere else to work.

If you have pets that like to chew on cords, be sure to inspect your sewing machine cords regularly. Replace the cord if it's damaged (electrical tape is not a good permanent solution!).

Have your machine serviced every year or two. Not only will this keep your machine in top working order, potentially dangerous repairs are more likely to be noticed before they cause a problem.

Always unplug the machine and use caution when replacing parts such as lightbulbs. Common sense goes a long way with sewing machine safety.

Don't sew over straight pins. At the very least this will bend the straight pins and compromise your stitch quality, but the straight pins are also susceptible to breaking, and very likely could end up in your finger (or worse).

Don't force your machine to sew through thick or tough material. You could damage your machine or cause injury to yourself. Your project might require an industrial strength sewing machine.

Consider the ergonomics of your sewing table and chair. If your sewing machine is too high it will cause strain on your back. Your feet should be flat on the floor and your elbows bent at a 90 degree angle while you are sewing.

Wear shoes while operating your machine. This one might seem a bit silly, but your foot pedal could break, and if you are wearing shoes, your feet will be protected. Stepping on stray needles, or dropping needles, scissors or a rotary cutter on your foot while sewing is also a possibility while sewing.

Use care when disposing of used sewing machine needles. Prescription bottles or a mint tin are perfect for this. Just be sure you mark it clearly so you don't mistake it for your good needles.

Your sewing area should be well lit. This will reduce strain on your eyes and help you avoid leaning in unnecessarily close to your machine.

If you have cats, this one is especially important: keep all of your thread spools and bobbins out of reach of your cats. Cats love to play with them, but they are likely to ingest the thread, which will wind around their intestines, leading to a complicated and costly surgery. Sewing machine safety applies to cats, too!

With these tips you'll be well on your way to creating beautiful garments safely using your sewing machine.

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