Warning: This column contains graphic injury descriptions that may be disturbing to some readers.
I lived up to my goal of crafting a lot over winter break. Well, sort of.
At the very least I’m pleased with what I made, and I hope that other people got crafty too. But there were a few hiccups in my crafting extravaganza of my last ever winter break.
The first would be sewing while on pain killers after having my wisdom teeth removed. At the time, I was convinced that I immediately needed a patch received for Christmas sewn onto the sweatshirt I bought. So using an iron and a sewing machine seemed like a great idea at the time. While things went off without a hitch, the lines I was sewing were a little wonky. Despite this success I still would strongly advise against trying that one at home.
I also began to work on a quilt, piecing squares of fabric together while working my way through my Netflix queue. The phrase “began to work on” is sort of a lie, though. I actually started the quilt when I was at the ripe old age of 12.
I was thoroughly tacky and the patterns I picked must have made sense at the time because they more or less make me cringe now. The clouds and stars were a brilliant combination for me as a tween, and now I’d be even tackier and probably just make a Halloween-themed quilt.
But the real issue came when I had finally made all of the squares. I wound up with 144 total quilt pieces, with 88 of one pattern set and 56 of the other. So I spent more than four hours on the floor of my living room trying to figure out a pattern for the quilt while shooing my cat off of my progress and whimpering about poor life choices. I finally figured something out, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t what I was going for 10 years ago.
Still, I kept on trucking and I can say with full confidence that sewing with a quarter inch seam allowance is the worst thing when it comes to sewing ever. Because most of my sewing projects have been clothes or stuffed animals, I generally manage to work with a larger seam allowance that doesn’t send me into a panic. So I neurotically worked on this quilt, absolutely terrified that I would mess something up and it would be ridiculously crooked. But I guess taking over the dining room for a studio was worth it because while I only have the front of the quilt done at this point, it is more or less acceptable if a little juvenile.
My greatest triumph of handmade during winter break was a project that I actually wound up bleeding as a result of, but very luckily not on the project itself. I found a great free shirt pattern and decided to make it. I’m a bit awkward proportionally but I’ve learned what fits me and what doesn’t.
I was super concerned that I would make this shirt and it would be the most ill-fitting garment I ever put on. It goes almost without saying that I went against the instructions included with the pattern and bought inexpensive quilting weight cotton. For one, it remains the fabric I am most used to working with and two, there was no way I was spending $15 on a yard-and-a-half of fabric for me to look horrible in the shirt.
So once I figured out via cutting and pinning that this shirt actually may look cute on me, I decided to race through sewing it. The directions told me to finish the inside edges of the garment along the seams in order to prevent fraying. Well, I don’t have a serger so I turned to my handy sewing guide, the Internet, for advice. I figured the advice to do a zig-zag stitch seemed not only sound, but also easy.
My sewing machine however was not pleased, and was probably sort of tired from sewing at this point. It jammed, but only briefly.
So briefly in fact that I had no time to remove my hands from guiding my fabric and away from the needle, and my brain didn’t have time to tell my foot to get off of the pedal until after I realized what had happened. I had sewn my middle finger under the presser foot and the needle went through the nail of my middle finger and almost out the other side.
First off, I don’t even know how my finger fit under the presser foot but it was there. And second, what I did next is probably not sound medical advice but sometimes instinct just kicks in. I removed the needle from the machine and then from my finger.
I immediately regretted not snapping a picture. I was sort of grossed out by the fact that as I pulled the needle out a string of clear liquid came with it, and I really would have liked a picture or video of that too. And of course my next worry was if I bled onto the shirt I just sewed my finger for. Thankfully, I didn’t, or else there would have been tears.
Hand washed, nail polish removed, finger wrapped, iced and elevated I sought the advice of some friends and the online medical community known as Yahoo Answers. Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to take the needle out and apparently, I was supposed to go to the hospital. It was a little late for that, but I had my tetanus shot four years ago so I figured I was more or less fine once the bleeding had stopped.
By the time my father got home from work I was finishing up the shirt and he, after making sure I was OK, laughed at my misfortune. I guess the moral of the story is to take your time when sewing things, or at the very least if you sew through your finger take a picture.
Meghan White can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.