Did you know that a needle stick infected about one in every 500 HIV patients?
Have you ever accidentally punctured your finger with a needle while hand stitching?
You don’t have to panic. I have too, and I am still HIV negative.
The risk of being infected through a needle might be very low.
But what about the pain you go through when you puncture your finger?
Not to even mention the stress of pushing a needle through layers of fabric with your bare hands.
I use a thimble.
You have like a million reasons to use a sewing thimble.
“What is a thimble?” is definitely the question running through your mind right now.
In this article, you will learn all you need to know about thimbles.
Ranging from what thimbles are to how you can make your own thimble from the comfort of your home.
- What is a Thimble?
- What is a Thimble Used For?
- Types OF Thimbles
- How to Pick the Right Size of Thimble
- How to Use a Thimble
- What to Use Instead of a Thimble
- How to make/sew a Thimble
- 4 Reasons to Use a Sewing Thimble
- Proper Care of Thimbles
What is a Thimble?
A thimble is a small pockmarked cup/cap with a closed end worn during hand stitching/sewing to protect the fingers and to push the needle.
It is commonly referred to as a “pushing tool”.
It covers only the tip of the fingers.
It is used mostly by dressmakers or cobblers.
What is a Thimble Used For?
A thimble has two principal functions:
To push the needle and to protect the fingers.
These are just two of the major reasons to use a sewing thimble, but they are the most important.
Hand sewing through thick layers of fabric with a needle requires you to push with an amount of force.
Even though you’re not pushing through the point of the needle, the needle’s eye can be sharp.
If you’re not careful, you will hurt yourself.
A thimble saves you the stress of pushing the needle with force and the pain of hurting yourself because of this force applied.
Types OF Thimbles
There are broadly two types of thimbles based on the design of the thimble:
1. Open cap
People who nurture long fingernails mostly wear this.
The open tip allows them to sew freely while still enjoying the comfort and protection of using a thimble.
This type of thimble is also suitable for people with long fingers and for those with broad finger tips who are unable to find their exact fit.
It is mostly made from leather
2. Closed cap
This is the most common type of thimble.
It is cup like with closed end for full protection of the finger including the fingertip.
It is mostly pitted.
It is usually made of plastic or metal.
There are also various types of thimbles depending on the make-up material.
3. The traditional metal thimble
It is made of thin metal. It is a pitted cuplike cap.
This type is the most common type of thimble, which is why it is called the “traditional” metal thimble.
It could be closed or open cap but the more common type is the closed cap.
4. Plastic Thimble
It is identical to the metal thimble but is made of plastic.
It is a small cap worn on the fingertips, just like the metal thimble.
5. Leather Thimble
This type of thimble looks very different from the metal and plastic type.
It is not a pitted cup like the metal and plastic types.
Instead, it looks more like an envelope casing for the fingers.
It is easy to make, but very rare.
Some leather thimbles are very light and can easily be pierced by a need.
Any thimble made with such light material negates all the reasons to use a sewing thimble and should be avoided.
How to Pick the Right Size of Thimble
Getting the right fit can be sooo exhausting.
A thimble should sit comfortably on your finger.
It must not be too tight, so it doesn’t block blood flow and bring extreme discomfort.
It shouldn’t be too loose, so it falls off your finger while sewing.
When shopping for a thimble, the ideal thing is to try on different sizes until you find the one that fits perfectly.
Shopping online for a thimble can be a bit challenging because you definitely can’t try them on.
However, reading the fitting reviews can help you find the right size.
One point to note is that sizes vary with different brands.
For example, a size 3 thimble from a particular brand might fit perfectly, but don’t be surprised if a size 3 from another brand doesn’t fit.
Don’t just assume, read the fitting reviews.
Sometimes your fingers might swell and increase in size because of temperature changes or work overload.
When this happens, your original thimble size can get too small to fit into your fingers.
I recommend buying two sizes.
One, your original size and the other one a size larger.
How to Use a Thimble
Now that you know what a thimble is and you’ve learnt what it is used for, you have even learnt the various types.
So how do you use a thimble?
Using a thimble can feel very uncomfortable in the beginning.
Truth is, it takes a while to get used to it. But trust me, once you do, you’ll never look back.
Many people suggest using only one thimble, which is usually worn on the dominant finger in the dominant hand.
However, I recommend using two.
One on each of the dominant fingers on both hands.
You can identify your dominant fingers by performing this small experiment:
Without wearing a thimble, watch yourself sew a small piece of fabric.
Note the fingers that shoulder most of the task.
This is usually:
The finger that pushes the needle and the finger that holds the fabric in place.
Pick the right size of thimbles for the two fingers and put them on.
Using a thimble will feel a bit weird and uncomfortable at first, but with consistency, you’ll eventually get used to it.
Now you can start sewing using either the tip or the side of the thimble to push the needle.
What Finger do You Wear a Thimble on?
The thimble is traditionally worn on the middle finger.
This is because this is the most dominant finger in most people.
Many other people wear the thimble on their index finger because it is more comfortable to use than the middle finger.
However, as I mentioned earlier, the thimble should be worn on the most dominant finger, which is different for each person.
This can be any finger ranging from the thumb to the pinky.
Whichever finger you feel comfortable using to push the needle.
What to Use Instead of a Thimble
What if you don’t have a thimble and can’t easily get one where you are?
Or if your fingers are too big or too small to fit the regular thimbles.
Or maybe you feel the thimble isn’t just for you.
Well, you can use other alternatives instead of a thimble.
Even though they’re not as safe.
1. You can try to use a Band-Aid instead of a thimble.
Make sure you position the padded part of the Band-Aid by your finger you used to push the needle.
2. You can also try using a plier to push the needle through layers of fabric and to pull it out at the other end.
3. Using layers of tape is also a trick that many found useful.
But please, I need to beg you.
Never try to use your teeth to pull out the needle if you are sewing through layers of fabric and it gets stuck.
You could really hurt yourself with the needle that way.
4. You can also make your own custom-made thimble from the comfort of you home.
You just have to follow a few DIY steps.
How to make/sew a Thimble
You will need a small piece of leather or very thick fabric, a large size needle, wool/thread to match and a pair of scissors.
- Place the piece of leather or fabric over your preferred finger such that it envelopes the finger.
- Cut out the desired length and width, making sure to leave allowance for sewing and trimming.
- If the leather or fabric is too thin, you can add a tiny piece of the material as a pad for your finger.
- After sewing on the pad, sew the sides of the thimble.
- Trim the excess leather and thread and voila!!
Your custom-made thimble is ready.
4 Reasons to Use a Sewing Thimble
1. For Protection
A thimble is worn to protect your fingers from puncture which would definitely result in sore/injury
It also protects your fingers from blisters
2. Prevent excessive sweating.
This is the main reason why thimbles have tiny holes.
These holes make it easier to sew as they enable sweat to flow out through these holes.
This prevents the accumulation of sweat inside the thimble cup and in the long run, prevent irritation.
3. More controlled sewing.
Contrary to popular opinion, needlework requires an amount of skill and expertise.
Sewing with a thimble gives you more control of the needle. Especially when you are used to it.
This will eventually help you to produce neater hand stitching.
4. A silent treasure.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean “life changing”, buy a house in banana island kind of treasure.
Thimbles can be kept as collectibles.
Thimbles date back to about 7000 B.C.
Some really old thimbles are kept in museums or in peoples’ personal stash as antique thimbles.
The older the thimble the more valuable it is.
So, start collecting your favorite thimbles today.
You never can tell. If bitcoins can do it, thimbles can.
A thimble is a valuable tool every designer should have.
Gift yourself a thimble today or maybe tomorrow or the next. LOL.
Whichever works for you.
Proper Care of Thimbles
Many people complain that thimbles are hard to keep.
They are small and easily misplaced, I keep stepping on mine. Super annoying.
The best way to keep your thimbles is to get a small container where you can easily throw them in and pick them out whenever you need them.
If you’re feeling a little extra, you can clean them up with a napkin after each use, the way you would clean up your scissors after a day’s work.
Just make sure they are not crawling all over the place and are easily found when you need them.
Using a thimble can be very uncomfortable in the beginning, but it’s worth it.
You protect yourself from injury and some dangerous contagious diseases like HIV.
You also save yourself a whole lot of stress while amassing treasures for a fancy collectible.
Thimbles are always overlooked but they are really very useful.
Please share with me how you feel about thimbles in the comment section.