Sore finger first aid

July 30, 2013

Even though our blog is dedicated to machine quilters, we all still pick up a needle and thread to perform sewing tasks, especially the arduous task of binding our quilts. If you do not frequently sew by hand, your fingers will quickly get sore. And if your eyesight has led to the lovely cheater glasses or your aim isn’t as good as it used to be, a pricked fingertip is a real possibility!

Here are some great tips shared from prolific hand quilters on keeping those pokes to a minimum as well as keeping your fingers nimble. As always, test any method before you dive in – after all, these are passed down from quilter to quilter but may not necessarily hold true for everyone:


  • Dip your fingers into rubbing alcohol – both before you start to sew and again when you stop. Fannie Troyer, Mt. Hope, OH
  • I paint my fingers with New Skin, an over-the-counter liquid “Band-Aid” that can be purchased at a drug store. It toughens the skin. FredaGail Stern, Dallas, TX
  • I soak my sore fingers in Listerine mouthwash solution for a couple of minutes twice a day. If there are rough spots on my fingers from needle pricks, I smooth them out with a nail file. I find the action quite healing and comfortable, and them I’m ready to sew again. U Khin, Rocky Ridge, MD
  • I keep my hands moisturized because when they are dry, they become injured much more quickly and heal more slowly. Joyce Trueblood, Cromwell, CT
  • I use brown vinegar applied with a cotton ball to sore fingers. Patty Miller, Charles City, IA
  • I use one 13-oz. container of plain petroleum jelly, five to six teaspoons of medicinal turpentine (the label reads “oil turpentine”) and a scant teaspoon of wintergreen. I warm the jar of petroleum jelly in a pan of warmwater over low heat and stir in the other two ingredients. I save tiny jars (baby food, pimento, jelly samples) and fill them with the balm and use it on sore fingers. Jennifer Asbury
  • If my fingers are really sore, I put some fingernail polish remover on them. It sounds bad, but it works! Vicki Jones, Rushville, IN