Safety in the Quilting Studio

Nothing can put your life on hold like an injury.  It is unexpected and unplanned.  Depending on the severity of the injury you can have daily activities and hobbies upset for a few hours, a few days, or even weeks.

After my husband sliced the skin off the tip of his finger yesterday with a box knife, I wasinjury clipart reminded even more of the need to be careful in the sewing room.  In the sewing room we work with rotary cutters that are equally as sharp as the box knife.  It doesn’t take much for an injury to happen, a careless (or not so careless) placement of the ruler, not thinking about where we place our hand and fingers, or even not thinking and leaving the safety off and the rotary cutter blade exposed for “just a second.”  There are even other hazards, such as pins and needles, sharp scissors, and electric cords running in different directions.  Although you may feel you have everything under control, if you have young children, grandchildren, or pets that roam through your quilting space, rotary cutters, pins and needles and stray cords are tempting, hazardous, and potentially deadly.  Pets are even attracted to things that adults and children would ignore.  For example, one of my Longarm customers needed a switch replaced on her Longarm because the cat, who liked to jump up on the frame and lay on the quilt, chewed the cap off the machine switch.  Fortunately for the cat, the machine was unplugged.

think safety first posterAlways think “Safety First.”  Whether you are cutting, sewing, pressing, or any other task, always think about your safety and the safety of others, including your pets.

Cutting Safety:

  • Replace mats that have grooves and marks that have not “healed.”
  • Replace the blade in the rotary cutter regularly. Dull blades do not cut well, need more pressure to cut, and may slip out of the fabric causing a wrong cut, damaging the ruler or hurting you.
  • Purchase rulers that have a non-slip surface, such as Creative Grids rulers,
    non-slip cutting rulers

    Creative Grids non-slip rulers and InvisiGrip non-slip static cling sheets.

    including the Stripology Ruler, or place InvisiGrip™ on the bottom of rulers. This clear static cling film provides a non-slipping surface on the bottom of the ruler.  Slipping or sliding rulers not only result in poor cuts, but can contribute to damage to the ruler from the blade and possible danger to the quilter from a cut from the rotary cutter.  After testing InvisiGrip™ on my 24” cutting ruler I have decided to put it on all of my clear rulers.  I have been very impressed that is really does provide a non-slip surface.

  • Use an elevated cutting table to work at a comfortable (and safe) height. A cutting table can easily and inexpensively be made from a short folding banquet table and lengths of PVC pipe cut 10-12” long and put under each leg.
  • Make sure the cutting area has good lighting and is clear of stray pins.
  • Keep your non-cutting hand behind and away from the direction and angle of the rotary cutter.
  • Always close the cutter after every use.

Quilting Room or Studio Safety:

Think "Safety First"

Think “Safety First”

  • Work in a well-lighted space.
  • Always use a pin cushion or magnetic pincushion to keep pins and needles secure. Invest in a magnetic wand to swipe across the floor to pick up any stray pins that have fallen.
  • If children or pets frequent the area, make sure dangerous items like pins and needles, scissors, and rotary cutters are put away. It isn’t a matter of organization, although that helps, it is a matter of “safety first.”
  • Never use an extension cord with the iron. Most extension cords are not heavy enough for the wattage draw and it could cause a fire.
  • Even if unplugged, a dangling electric cord from the iron can be a temptation to children and pets that might pull on it causing the iron to fall off the ironing board and onto the pet or child causing injury.  Always place the unused iron in a safe location.
  • Avoid running cords across traffic lanes. Tripping and falls are the number one cause of injury in adults ages 65 and over.  Even if you are younger, it is still dangerous to have cords across the path.
  • Always unplug the iron and sewing and/or quilting machines when not in use. Who knows what else could happen, but most have sensitive electronics in them that could be damaged by power surges or lightning strikes.  This type of damage is never covered under the product warranty.
  • Pets are attracted to dangling thread, thread spools and cones. They are wonderful toys!  But, they can be dangerous and deadly to your pet.  Make sure thread is put away and not a temptation.
  • Longarm owners with pets – the dangling quilt top and batting seems to be a wonderful place to play hide and seek, a great place to sleep, or claw. Dogs seem to especially like to chew the batting.  Cats also seem to like to jump up onto the frame and sleep on the quilt, like a hammock.  The Longarm is such a temptation.  You could close the door to the studio, put a shower curtain (plastic) over the quilt, or use strips of aluminum foil to reduce the temptation.  If you have other great solutions, please post them below in comments.

injury prevention planSafety first is a habit.  Take a critical look at your quilting area, make provision for safe, but convenient, storage for dangerous items, develop a procedure for putting things out of harm’s way and shutting things off when you leave your space. Get into the habit of always thinking about and doing the “safe” thing.  It may take a few seconds longer, but a careless unsafe move can cost hours, days, weeks or more of pain and the inconvenience of not being able to enjoy your time sewing and quilting.

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Inspiration from the Life of Yvonne Porcella

Yvonne Porcella

Yvonne Porcella

Recently one of the legends of the quilting world passed away. Yvonne Porcella, who never even won a ribbon for any of her quilts, influenced the quilting world for decades. Learning to sew from her Mother when she was growing up, Yvonne was influenced by the art and quilting motifs found in textiles purchased in the 60’s from Afghanistan and other nearby countries. Although trained as a nurse and crafting as a weaver years ago, she began quilting to be able to do something near her children and even sewed standing up with her machine on the kitchen counter top to keep the pins away from the children. Her eclectic art quilts are only made with a couple of blocks and almost always her signature black and white, often checked fabric.

The link below from a 2010 The Quilt Show episode is now available for all to see and

yvonne porcella quilt

Quilt purchased by the Smithsonian.

met Yvonne Porcella. I was first introduced to Yvonne on Alex Anderson’s quilt show years ago. Yvonne reminded me of a hippy with her unique, colorful clothing that she made. Her quilts also had that unique signature, not uncommon for today’s art quilts, but certainly very different from the traditional quilts of the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s. Yvonne’s quilts made such an impression in the quilting world that the Smithsonian even purchased one of them in the mid 1990’s as well as having one chosen for inclusion in the 100 Best Quilts of the 20th Century.

yvonne porcella quilt

Biscuits Tris unique Porcella style.

I hope that you will set aside about an hour to watch this video, meet this amazing woman and see how different things in life influenced Yvonne to become the quilt maker she was. More importantly, watching the video should make you think about what has influenced you to become the quilt maker you have become or are becoming.  Most of all, I would hope that we each would be encouraged to step out of the box and express our individuality through our quilting.

The video is broken into chapters (listed to the right on the page) with short advertising interludes, so, if you do not have time to watch all of it, book mark it and go back later.

 Link: The Quilt Show 2010 video with Yvonne Porcella.

 

Organizing Your Quilt Projects

I don’t know about you, but there are times that I am organized and times when I am totally disorganized.   When disorganized, life is chaotic and out of balance.  I often spend a lot of time looking for things that should not be hard to find.  In fact, I have been known to file papers in a file that seems so logical at the time, but not so logical when I am trying to find those papers later on.

The same is true in my sewing room.  Many things are organized.  I have a place for patterns, place for books, buttons, batting, thread, etc.  But when it comes to keeping track of the stuff for a quilt, I am not so good.  I recently saw this video posted on “The Quilt Show” and really like the simple and effective solutions for keeping quilt project “stuff” together.  I hope that it is a help to you, too.