I thought it might be an idea to share, with a light heart, some of the less then joyful experience that millinery has gifted me/ us with; in an attempt to save others the same.

Apart from the usual run of the mill 'tragedies' such as splinters from feathers and sinamay, the worst I've ever experience is a piece of metal shooting me in the eye ball. 

Ok, exaggeration perhaps but it did scare me. What happened?

I am an over confident sewing machine wrangler, and tend to go flat chat with what ever I'm doing (relying on the grooves etc). On this one ocassion, where I didn't wear my reading/ safety glasses, I got a little too wild and managed to hit the wire (on the edge of a brim I think). The needle snapped in three, with one piece shooting me in the white of my eye. Very nearly started wearing goggles after that. 

No damage was done, I did take myself to the optometrist to make sure it was all ok and was given drops to keep the scratch on the surface clean.

Other then that, I think I've managed to drop a hat block on my foot. The only tears I dropped were for the block and it's dint....

Any one got any stories to share?

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Scary re your eye incident- I have often thought of that happening and glad I have glasses. I advocate Leather needles in my lessons when going through extra thick straw or felt and to attach wire as they usually bounce back. 

Worst incident while teaching at TAFE College a student put her head too close to steamer as she bent over her block!!! I always carried liquid VitaminE capsules and rubbed three into her hair and it healed perfectly by next week. This was in mid 90s before all the strict rules for Workplace Health and Safety came in. Today teaching with Govt I have to explain the use of Cup'd provided and they sign they have rec'd the info but a supply of burn cream in there now.  I make them wear cotton gloves while steaming these days as do not want another steam burn incident!!

I'm very accident prone. I can relate to the wire in the eye Megan, that happened to me when I was cutting wire with pliers and a bit snapped off and hit me in the eye, no damage just red eye.

Making hat blocks is the worst. I always break a few needles (even though I use good leather ones) and always end up stabbing myself a few times.

Just the other day I was blocking felt and managed to bend back my thumbnail, lots of blood and now half black.

Ah well I think it comes with the territory and it's murphy's law if your working on something white you're going to bleed!

That was pretty scarey-I had a needle break while sewing the brim wire on my sewing machine-the needle hit me in the cheek-not as bad as your eye but I now wear protective glasses when I sew on the machine-another time I was doing some beading on a hat and didn't put on my thimble(they can be so restrictive) and I managed to shove the eye end of the needle under my finger nail-that was very painful especially the next day-I still don't wear the thimble.

I always worry about a needle breaking and hitting my eye its my worst nightmare whilst machining.

The only accident Ive had is Ive sewn my finger to fabric and the needle pierced the side of my finger. I had the needle through my finger I could turn the machine off but not at the power point as I couldnt move. My whole mind went blank about what to do. Luckily i had the phone by the machine and rang my dad who calmed me down and talked my through what to do.  So simple but i just panicked. I was sewing white fabric aswell and the finger only started bleeding once the needle was lifted out. I still dont know how i did it !

The very first time I blocked something and was pulling the pin out it flipped over and stuck in my nailbed. I can't see it being the last time either, I am very clumsy. I'm also glad I wear glasses as i have had wire springing into my face before.

All part of the fun!

Rushing to try and finish some wiring before the next client appt, I reached for my very sharp embroidery scissors to cut the thread while really not looking at them. They slipped down and instead of letting them fall to the ground, I tried to catch them in my lap by pushing my knees together. Consequently, this movement pushed the pointy end of the scissors into my thigh right through my jeans. I looked down to see a pair of scissors wobbling around in my leg. I was surprised how little it had hurt seeing that half of the scissors were in my leg.... The client was due to arrive in 5 minutes, so here I am with my pants around my knees trying to superglue the edges of the wound back together while the doorbell is ringing. Half way through the appointment. it really started to throb. I drove to the drs after the appt but he had told me that the superglue had done such a good job, no stitches required. I now never try to catch falling knives or scissors...

Hmmm.. instead of using an awl ( just couldnt find it !) I decided to use my tiny crochet hook to put a hole in an ostrich feather .....and forgot to move my finger out of the way ...it did penetrate my finger ... and no pain, or fainting later managed to extricate myself before I had to call my son to take me to hospital to unhook it ! No idea how it came out without tearing my finger but the wiggling ( sorry for the squeamish amongst you readers) but I managed it .. and then  needed a cup of tea to calm myself down. The awl is now the only thing I will use !

Hi Megan, This is something I've always wondered about but been too scared to ask.  I am very fearful of injuries because I tend to be very accident prone.  Years ago at the Millinery convention in Melbourne , I did a wirework course with Paris Kyne.  He was very big on OHS and told us to be so careful.  I invested in a pair of clear goggles and to this day I used them when sewing on the machine and wirework.  I always think the time I don't wear them will the time that something bad may  happen. People do laugh at me wearing them because I forget I've got them on!

The other day I was using a big sewing needle and I pushed half of it into my thumb under the skin. I had a delayed reaction and then I just pulled it out asap.  So gross. But all okay, but why does this always seem to happen when working with white!! Who knows?

My worst was when I was in a hurry (of course) to finish a hat for a big event and needed to sew several ostrich feathers together to make a very big one.  My first step was to pare down the quill of the largest one so the others would fit snug against it.  I could not find my regular tool so just grabbed a single edge razor blade.  Everything was going nicely until I hit a snag and the razor blade jumped and sliced off the top 1/3 of my thumb to the bone. 

I grabbed the hanging piece, held it tightly with paper towels and yelled to my husband to get me a butterfly bandage as I began washing it out.  He looked at it and immediately called the paramedics.

Yes, he was right, I needed 8 stitches and x-rays because the feather is an organic item and they need to be sure the area is totally cleaned out before stitching.

Put a real cramp in my style for a few weeks and was a hard lesson learned but you would hardly know anything ever happened if you look at it now.

As the nurse in the group, (my previous career) just a reminder: if you either puncture your skin ( I like the scissor story) or slice and dice it,  make sure you’ve had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years. Some recommendations say  if you’ve had an an injury, no matter the last time you got a shot, you should get a booster. Check your country’s recommendations- tetanus is a really bad way to go,

Tania Hansen

Tatiana Millinery

Boise, Idaho, USA

Sorry to hear about such a scary experience. I had a little bit different situation when I was sewing on my machine. I am a curvy girl, so it is hard for me to find proper plus size clothes, even hats which suit my body type. I have read on curvy-ninja.com that a lot of famous plus size women wear hats so I run to the store and bought my favorite one. I adore this yellow hat but one time a friend of mine burn a hole in it while he was smoking!

Can you believe in this?!?! I was mad but had decided I needed to fix this and sew it up. Surprisingly, I carried away so much that almost pierced my finger with a needle. I was in a few millimeters but nothing happened.
Got off with fright, but I am super focused after this.


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