Since we've been talking a lot about the embroiderer's preferred tools lately, I thought I would see what you all think about thimbles. I'm curious because I seem to be in the minority as a thimble-user, but most non-thimble-users do admit to stabbing themselves quite a lot while working. I too resisted using one for a long time, but now it's one of the most important items in my sewing box!
Above you'll see a selection of the thimbles found around my house. From left to right, they are:
- A medieval reproduction thimble,
- Two simple metal thimbles that can be found in the sewing section of any craft store,
- A Clover Protect and Grip Thimble,
- And the standard decorative porcelain thimble, just for fun! (This one's from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.)
These are just a small selection of the thimble types available today, though we usually just think of the simple metal type. When we asked you guys on Twitter and Facebook if you're thimble-users, most of you said no, that they're just too awkward and don't fit on your finger properly. Which is exactly how I feel about the metal ones - they always make me hold my hand weirdly, as if I've just painted my nails and don't want to mess them up! I think thimble fit is more important than we realize and really effects how useful they are.
My current thimble of choice is the Clover Protect and Grip (the hot pink one) and I love it to pieces. When I sew by hand, I wear it on my right middle finger and use it for pushing the needle. When I embroider, I wear on my left middle finger and use it to protect the side of my finger that is stabbed repeatedly. Without a thimble, I always end up with very painful, tiny holes in my fingers! The rubbery thimble stays put, doesn't have that unnatural feeling, and protects from both stabbing and pushing.
There are a lot of other choices out there though! I personally think the medieval reproduction thimble looks so useful, since a lot of us stab or push with the side of our fingers, not the tip. Several companies still make ring thimbles now, as well as leather thimbles which seem to be a favorite. In the interest of science, I've ordered one of each so I can test them out and report back to you next week. Hopefully this little thimble exploration will help you find the perfect tool to protect your fingers!
In the meantime, tell us: do you thimble?
Julie is a knitter and stitcher, born in the US but now living in the UK. She loves vintage embroidery books and bad slasher movies. With her mum, Julie designs embroidery patterns inspired by literature under the name Little Dorrit & Co.
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I do use a leather thimble on my right hand to stab. At the moment I do a lot of embroidery, and have stitch through my skin on my left hand... Just this morning I thought I should find out what kind of thimble is useful to save my skin...ReplyDelete
I'm glad we had good timing with these posts! I hope we can help you find the right thimble for you and help save your poor sore fingers!!Delete
I've been considering some protection, too. I have found I push with a part of my ring finger and it's been getting slightly calloused. The rubbery one looks intriguing.ReplyDelete
I'm strangely attracted to the hot pink one as well. I don't have/use a thimble right now and I at least should give it a try!Delete
Yes I do thimble sometimes. Mostly when I am having one of those days (I am sure everyone can relate) where it seems you are constantly trying to give your own finger justification to divorce you. Mine are regular metal ones, brass specifically, and came from a museum store. The type of store where docents dress up in period costume and show you how they used to do things, bake bread, blacksmithing etc. They were on a counter in a basket, not individually packaged, and you could pick the ones that fit you. They are not specific "sizes" at all, they run the gambit, and even if a company would label some of them as a size, some would not be, so most people can always find one that fits. :-) I never could find one from a store that fit me correctly either. Mass production is a good thing, except if your finger is not an exact thimble "size". Then big companies cannot offer you a thimble at all. My thimbles are not as pretty as the perfect mass produced ones, but they do the job swimmingly, so I am happy. :-)ReplyDelete
I remember my mom trying to convince me to use a thimble. She was taught the arts of homemaking while she was in Grade school (in Switzerland, back in the 50s). You had to learn everything, and it was done "properly". I never could get the hang of using one, though occasionally I do, when sewing through denim or other tougher fabrics. Mine is a plain jane thimble, with the divets all over. I do like being able to use the side of the thimble to push the needle through fabric, and the divets keep my needle in place.ReplyDelete
Yes I do too! I use a clover thimble, just like the hot pink one except mine is bright orange (the smallest size for my dwarf-ish fingers). I also like to use flexx wrap tape, a real lifesaver that still allows a sense of touch.ReplyDelete
I thimble too. At the moment I just have one of the metal ones, and yes it does keep falling off my finger. I haven't seen the clover ones, but will keep my eye out now as they look really good.ReplyDelete
Thank you all so much for your input, I'm so surprised to have found such an interesting topic in thimbles, of all things! I will follow this post up with some further information and share some of the things you all have said on the topic. Thanks again!ReplyDelete
The oldest known thimble (I think) was found in china. It was made between the second century BC and the second century AD, but needles older than that have been found, so we can assume that thimbles might be a smidge older than the actual examples humans have found, or that the earlier ones were made of leather or something that deteriorates more quickly than metal. My guess would be that the first needles (wood, agave, and bone) 60,000 years ago (I think) were not very sharp, so thimbles were not really as necessary, just a bit of a pad to help shove it maybe. Once they began making needles from metal, and they were getting sharper, they started needing the metal finger armor.Delete
I use a japanese thimble (finger guard really) when doing sashiko, but otherwise no. It doesn't sit on the finger tip, but rather on the if that you use to push the needle through as the tips guide it.ReplyDelete