The Rotary Cutter “Incident”

I cut my finger with rotary cutter

I’m not a person who is generally considered “reckless.” In fact, I can be a little paranoid, and a little bit *too* concerned about safety and caution sometimes. I’m sure my kids would back me up on that one.

But six weeks ago, my vigilance must have slipped. Or maybe it was just a freak accident. Either way, I had a very, very bad encounter with a rotary cutter. (See photo above if you are not familiar with this handy crafting tool. It’s like a pizza cutter, but smaller. And for fabric. Or paper.)

As a somewhat-new quilter (I’ve been at it for about nine months so far), I’ve spent a lot of quality time with my rotary cutter this year. With six quilt projects and a few other little sewing endeavors under my belt, I’ve been cutting quite a bit of fabric.

And I’m CAREFUL.

I cut slowly. I make sure my blade is in contact with the edge of my ruler before I start cutting. I double-check to ensure that my fingers aren’t hanging over the edge of the ruler. I even clean my rotary cutter so it doesn’t get jammed and jumpy.

But still. Something happened.

It all started when I attempted to make a triangle quilt. All my quilts so far had been made primarily of squares and rectangles, and I thought I was ready for a challenge. I decided to get some winter fabric (I went with the Snowman Gatherings III line) and a plastic template, and began the Simple Diamonds quilt from Missouri Star Quilt Company (you can watch a tutorial for the quilt on YouTube).

Well. I had SO many problems. Mostly with my points. No matter how many different ways I tried attaching my triangles, or how many articles and tutorials I read about the best way to sew a triangle quilt, I just could not get my the points of the diamonds to line up consistently. I decided to just go with a “close enough, good enough” job on the quilt top, and then to explore further with paper.

Perhaps if I cut out paper triangles, I could experiment with different ways to line them up, and maybe get a new perspective on what was going wrong in my quilt. I was not going to let triangles defeat me!

So I printed out some triangles, and got out my paper-crafting rotary cutter in order to cut them out.

(I’m sure you can see where this is going.)

The first few cuts were fine. And then…again, I don’t know how it happened…but then…

Time slowed to a crawl. In slow motion, I could see that the rotary cutter had somehow jumped onto the top of my oh-so-slick plastic ruler and was heading straight for my finger. A voice in my mind cried out, “NOOOOOOO! STTTOOOOPPPPP!” But I just couldn’t stop it in time. The blade went into my index finger and I knew, right away, this was bad.

Thankfully, my husband was home that evening. He took me to the urgent care clinic, and a couple of stitches later, I emerged with a lovely bandage and hefty amount of pain. The good(?) news was, I wasn’t the first one klutzy enough to almost cut off a finger with a rotary cutter that week. The physician’s assistant told me she had stitched up another poor lady earlier in the week who had an unfortunate encounter while crafting some Christmas wreaths.

So here we are, six weeks later. Still healing. And still more than a little wary of the rotary cutter. I know they say you have to “get back on the horse” after you fall off. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sometimes that’s easier said than done, though, you know?

I look at a rotary cutter and all I can think about is that slow-motion movie in my head, the one of impending disaster. Ugh.

But I’ve been trying. I cut borders for the triangle quilt and kept moving forward (slowly) on getting that one done. I even used the rotary cutter for a homeschool art project.

And I will tell you: I’m even more cautious now. I cut even more slowly. I triple-check my finger position instead of double-checking it. And I think I hold my breath through every cut. But I’m trying.

Someday, my rotary cutter and I will be friends again. I hope.

I Cut My Finger with My Rotary Cutter

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2 Comments

  1. So sorry for your incident. I wonder if the rotary cutter people should make some sort of protective cutting mitten, sort of like those used for cooking? Just a thought. Although I guess that cutter would slice right through the fabric of the mitten. I’m glad you haven’t let it stop you from crafting on.

    1. Actually, there are “cut resistant” gloves for quilters…and I am now an owner of one! Still testing it out and not sure I fully trust it. I’ll have to write a post in the future with an update on the new “safety items” I’ve discovered since my incident. 🙂