Storytime Tuesday: Why I Don't Sew.

When I was in college, in my very late teens or very early twenties, I tried to sew.  To quilt, actually.  I loved all the designs and the colors and the creativity involved, and I wanted to make those things.

What I forgot is that I can’t sew.  I injure myself and others when I attempt to sew.  I’m supremely bad at it to an almost ridiculous degree.

So, once, I was making a secret santa gift for someone at work.  I worked at MCI at the time, in a cubicle, like thousands of other corporate drones, and we’d drawn names for the holidays.  I got my supervisor’s name (but no pressure!), and thought I’d make this neat little quilted woven star ornament thing for which I had a kit.  I thought nothing would say “I’m thinking of you and how much you like kitschy little country things” than a hand-quilted calico star thingie.

Honestly, all was going well for a while.  I got the first nine-patch done, and went to go cut the strips for the upper part of the hearts, when the rotary cutter (a spinning wheel of razor-sharp death used by quilt wizards to cut through many layers of fabric at once) skipped up over the hard plastic ruler and through my middle finger.  Seriously.  Through it.  Finger, nail, and bone.  I almost cut it off.  As it was, there was a rather large fingertip-sized flap of was-finger hanging there.  The pain didn’t set in right away (probably because I severed the nerves in it, too, come to think of it), but the blood — oh, the blood, y’all.  There was more blood than I thought I had in my arm, much less my finger.  

I ran to the kitchen.  (About three steps.  My apartment then would make tiny house living look like residing in a mcMansion.)  I held the finger under the tap to make sure there wasn’t any fabric gunk caught in it.  Which is when the pain decided it was, in fact, coming to this party, along with a whole NEW rash of blood.

I went down.  It’s the first time I’ve ever passed out, that I can remember. It was brief, maybe a few seconds, but my eyelids slammed open to find that now, not only was I bleeding on my floor, but I was apparently bleeding everywhere else, too.  I grabbed a roll of paper towels and wrapped about half of them around my finger and then my hand.  I mummified that whole hand in towel.

About that time, my carpool friend arrived.  Apparently, she’d been honking downstairs and I’d missed it in that whole hacking-off-my-finger/bleeding-to-death thing.  I yelled for her to come in, and she stepped over puddles of semi-dried blood in the living room.  Are you okay? It looks like there’s blood on your….holy crap!

By this point, my kitchen looked like I’d taken up the hobby of filleting babies in my spare time.  I’d had to sit back down on the floor (in my own blood, by the way), because when I stood up, I was starting to see stars out the corners of my eyes.  I weakly told Pamela (my friend) that I thought maybe I shouldn’t go to work and should instead go to a doctor.  She agreed.  I didn’t have a phone (these were the olden days, before cell phones, and I didn’t want a land line until after the semester was over, because I’d planned to move closer to work then, and there was no point in paying the then-outrageous sum to move your number to another physical location…), so Pamela offered to run down the five-ish blocks to the local payphone to call in and tell our supervisor, Terri, what was going on.  I wrapped more towels around my hand, which by now had bled through the first batch and was dripping down my arm again, and nodded, still feeling like this was all some kind of surreal dream.

A few minutes later, Pamela came back.  She’d told Terri about the finger thing, but Terri was dubious that it was a missing-work-level injury.  (Note: I never missed a day before this, with the exception of one blizzard and one case of pneumonia.  But, y’know…suspicion of the supervisors.)  She said I could go to the doctor, but I’d get written up for the absence.


I didn’t bother to change clothes.  I was covered in drips and spatters, my hand still mummified in paper towels and one hand towel that I figured I could sacrifice.  Pam made me sit on a plastic bag,because I was still dripping, and, incidentally, getting paler and paler by the minute, feeling more and more like I might pass out.

We got there with barely a minute to spare before the shift started.  I walked into our bay of cubicles and proceeded to fall over on the floor, leaving a nice little blood pool next to my head.  I woke to Terri, elevating my arm while one of the guys in our pod pushed a rolling office chair with me in it toward the company nurse’s office.  She was apologizing over and over.  I thought when Pam said “cut her finger” she meant, like, a little cut or something and you were just being dramatic.  NOT THAT YOU HACKED OFF YOUR FINGER.

Way to bury the lead, Pamela.

Anyway, the apology made me feel slightly vindicated, and a whole lot like a badass.  Not even the threat of blood loss would keep me from my duties!  ::arms akimbo::

Long story short (heh, a thousand words later…which is probably still fairly concise for me, come to think of it…), I ended up with something like seventeen stitches in three layers.  The company nurse was all WHY ARE YOU HERE AT WORK OMFG and Terri explained that she told me I had to come in (which she probably admitted for liability reasons), and they took me to an urgent care on the company dime.  

And in a few weeks, I gave Terri her secret santa present, complete with bloodstains.  Because story, that’s why.  To be fair, she never questioned me again, so some good did come out of it.  

And this?  This is why I don’t sew, people.  It’s just one example.  There’s also the time I actually sewed through my index finger.  And the time I broke a needle, which flew off the machine and came maybe a quarter of an inch from J’s eye.  And the time I got my hair stuck in the bobbin.  (I still don’t know how it happened.)

Some people are cut out for things, and some people aren’t.  And when the universe chops off your finger and tries to blind your husband, it’s time to take the hint that maybe this particular thing isn’t for you.

I’m listening.


  1. You have me beat! I only sewed through my finger...I'm still VERY careful about that, because carrying around that sewing machine was HEAVY.

  2. I'm completely in awe at the absolute thoroughness to which you decided to carry out this endeavor, though, knowing you the way I do, it really shouldn't come as a total surprise. LOL! This is a great story, though I know at the time, it wasn't pleasant. As always, thanks for sharing, E.