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Nickel Allergy

ChrisHaynes | Posted in General Discussion on

It is actually quite common to be allergic to the metal nickel:


I am allergic to nickel… and my query about it was addressed in Threads issue #102 .

It is quite frustrating to deal with it for hand sewing.  I have used the quilt betweens that come coated in gold or platinum… but they are quite inadequate for many types of hand sewing. 

I cannot use the quilt betweens (or the gold plated tapestry needles) to:

1)  Sew buttons on with heavier thread

2)  Sew roman shade rings on shades that have any more than a couple layers (and again, I like to use heavier waxed thread for this)

3)  Handsew through Cordura or any other nylon backpack fabric

4)  Handsew many heavier fabrics like wool or tapestry

ALSO… the eye end of the litte itsy bitsy thin needles will poke into my finger unless I use a thimble.  Even hemming is irritating with those short little needles.

AAAARGH!!!!    Why, oh WHY do the manufacturers insist on coating normal everyday needles with NICKEL!!!  If it is to prevent rusting… well, some of them STILL rust.  At least one manufacturer has straight pins that are nickel free. 

I am just ranting.  Especially since I am now allergic to iodine (they can’t use it to swab me when I give blood). 


  1. SewTruTerry | | #1

    Have you tried to use finger cots? Finger cots are like little rubber gloves for individual fingers.  You should be able to find them wherever medical supplies are carried. Just wear them on the fingers that you will use to sew with and also get a better grip on the needle with them.  Quilters have been using them for years as a way of protecting their fingers from needle pricks as well as getting a grip on the needle.  Also there is also a newer product called glove in a bottle that could work as well.  Just something to think about.

    1. ChrisHaynes | | #3

      Yes... and I dislike them. 

      I am also trying to avoid latex, because I do not want to develop a sensitivity to that also (just like iodine now).

  2. kswolff | | #2

    Hi Chris,

    This might seem a bit out of left field but.... my company makes and sells high-end jewelry. We provide a lot of custom work for our customers many of whom have the same nickel allergy as you. One of the solutions for this is to have our findings rhodium plated. So far, in the last 7 years, we have had nothing but positive feedback. Rhodium is similar to Platinum in its composition and adheres to other metals well and does not seem to wear off the way other metal plating will.

    You might want to call around to some local jewelry repair shops or retailers to see if someone has the equipment to do rhodium plating - there should be no reason they couldn't plate your needles just as easily as a pair of earring posts. Also, it should be very inexpensive - we pay approximately $10.00 to plate a pair of large cufflink findings.

    Hope that helps!


    1. ChrisHaynes | | #4

      Actually, I am going to have my wedding set redone.  We plan to use a custom jeweller that uses a high carat gold hardened without nickel (I think they use copper... and palladium... which now I see some people are sensitive to).  In my research I have learned that the initial sensitivity to nickel starts with jewellery.  This is why more and more places seem to provide nickel-free alloys.  When I first found out the only web-site with good information was an Australian piercing studio... now there are lots more good sources.

      And I am learning that I can now develop a sensitivity to chromium because it is used in the tanning of leather... so my kid gloves may cause me a rash in the future.

      Manufacturers of sanitary gloves now provide a vinyl option for those with latex allergies.  My kids' orthodontist wears vinyl gloves.

      Since nickel allergy is fairly common... I do not see why I should find a place that will charge me to get my needles coated.  I think there should be an option manufactured for for us... and not just the quilt betweens and tapestry needles.

      By the way... I have bought the stainless steel needles by the James Company.  Guess what?  They are only available at my local fabric store as QUILT BETWEENS... the teeny tiny totally inadequate for a good portion of the hand sewing I wish to do!  AAARGH!!!!!

      1. Barbaran8 | | #9

        I have nickel allergy, and made a terrific find while out Christmas shopping. I found a wooden watch! It is called wood watch, and it is assembled in Canada, made by a company called Tense. The body of the watch, the back, and the wristband are all wood, and the latch is copper, or a copper alloy. This is the first time I have had a watch I could wear in more than ten years.

  3. Catherine2 | | #5

    Hi Chris,

    I to sufer from severe nickle allergy, watches are out as are all the fashionable glasses frames, and cheap jewellery forget it!  I work as a designer / maker of costume jewellery and have to handle the nickle findings all day. My problem has been solved by using "Spry On Band-Aid", designed for use on small childrens knees, but also very affective in blocking the nickle. Depending on what I'm doing for the day it will somtimes need to be applied several times, but it does work!

    Good Luck


    Edited 3/24/2005 6:48 am ET by cath2

    1. ChrisHaynes | | #6

      Hmmm... that might work.  Thank you.

      By the way, for eyewear I wear are the very fashionable rimless glasses with TITANIUM arms.  They are flexible, light weight and nickel free. 

      My computer glasses are cheapy plastic frames.  But I don't care what I look like when I am staring into a screen.

      1. Catherine2 | | #7

        Dear Chris,

        The titanium frames are great ... but expensive. I did recently find a pair in a discontinued style that had been marked down and they are purple .... perfect!

        Let me know how you get on with the spray band-aid?


        Edited 3/24/2005 6:48 am ET by cath2

        1. ChrisHaynes | | #8

          Cool... my hubby found a great pair on discount.  I was lucky in that I only had to replace the lenses, my frames are on their fourth year.  This is the longest I've ever kept a style.

          I shall... but right now I just picked up 6 books from the library.  Why do all my holds come at once!!!  It is a nice rainy day and I'm curling up with a few good books.

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