Sewing Safety at Home and Work

Sewing is pretty harmless compared to a lot of other activities, so it is easy to forget that safety is still a concern.  Sewing related injuries are not uncommon in industries such as manufacturing of garments, shoes, and upholstery.  OSHA has set some standards and regulations in place for keeping workers safe on the job while working with industrial sewing equipment.  Here are some general safety guidelines to keep in mind while sewing at home along with OSHA regulated procedures for work. 

Sewing Machines

If you are new to sewing, read the specific safety guidelines provided by your sewing machine manufacturer.  Start out with a slow sewing speed while you are learning.  

Almost all sewing machines are powered by electricity. Be sure to always turn your machine off when it is not in use. When you are done sewing for the day, you should unplug your machine AFTER you turn it off.  

Sewing machines can generate a lot of heat, especially if they are being used over longer periods of time. If you notice your machine is heating up a considerable amount, turn it off and let it cool down before starting up again.

Cords can be a danger as well. Keep cords away from your feet so you don’t trip. You may even find it necessary to tape the cords down to the floor or table to keep them out of the way. Every so often, check to make sure the cords are not damaged in any way – a damaged electrical cord could easily cause a fire.

Never force your machine to sew over material that is too thick. Avoid sewing over pins. Both of these actions could cause considerable damage to your machine.

Keep your fingers away from all moving parts. Avoid leaning your face too close the machine because is possible for pins to break. Workers may be required to use finger, needle, and/or eye guards.  Finger needle guards are small metal pieces that clip onto an industrial sewing machine and prevent the sewer from sliding their fingers under the needle. Sewers can also use thimbles over their fingertips for protection. Eye guards are small sheets of plexiglass that are screwed onto an industrial machine and are used to prevent broken needles from snapping off into the sewers face. Simple eye goggles can be used as well to protect the eyes.

A good industrial sewing machine we recommend is the Juki DDL8700.  This machine is designed for comfort, safety, and for creating high quality garments.  The Juki DDL870 pairs with the safety features mentioned above.  

Cutting Tools

When using cutting tools like a seam ripper or rotary blade, always cut AWAY from your body.  Take your time when cutting any type of material. Many rotary cutters and scissors have safety features built in that allow you to cover the blade when not in use.

Protecting Your Workstation

You may want to invest in a cutting/sewing table.  Many even come with special features to help you cut straight lines and keep your sewing tools organized.  If not, then you should always have a cutting board at your workstation, wherever that may be.  A cutting board helps to keep your cutting tools from dulling, and it protects your furniture from scratches.

Working with an Iron

Never touch the face of an iron when it is on. Only pick an iron up using the proper handle. Do not put your hand in the steam. If you are using a home iron, never lay the iron on its face when it is on; set it upright on its heel.

If you are using an industrial iron such as a gravity feed iron, you may not be able to place it upright on the heel. In this case it is important that you are working on a heat resistant surface and have a silicone heat pad.

Proper Sewing Position as Suggested by OSHA

If you are working at home or working with an industrial sewing machine, there is a proper way to sit at your sewing machine table in order to avoid straining your back or neck when sewing:

  • Forearms level with the table top
  • Feet flat on the floor
  • Knees bent at 90°
  • Adequate lighting to reduce strain on eyes
  • Relaxed shoulders
  • Use an ergonomic swivel chair for easy access to all areas of your work station
  • Place all necessary materials as close to arm’s reach as possible
proper sewing position
General Sewing Safety Tips

It may seem silly to say, but it is important that you always wear shoes when you are sewing. Needles and pins are easily lost in carpet or under sewing tables, and you don’t want to accidentally step on one! It is also possible that you could drop a sharp cutting tool on your foot.

Cats are cute and playful, and they love to play with loose thread and electrical cords. Keep your area clear of thread that a cat or other animal could ingest.

Do not set liquids near your sewing area. It may spill and damage your machine and your fabric.

Common sense goes a long way when you are sewing. If it doesn’t feel right, stop what you are doing and give us a call. We will be happy to do our best in helping you out.

For specific OSHA information about sewing and related procedures, click here.

Download our easy to follow Sew Safe Checklist here to hang up in your sewing room.

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