My grandma Willie Ann, born in 1900, was an avid quilter who taught me to sew with a thimble as a small child back in Oklahoma. I have used a thimble faithfully since then. My finger feels “naked “ and it can hurt to sew a long time without one. After talking to other Connecting Threads staff members, I started to feel I was the only person who still uses a thimble. I decided to do a thimble survey!
We have 10 Connecting Threads staff members, including our graphic designers and marketing person. Of those 10:
3 use thimbles regularly (two metal, one leather)
6 do not use thimbles
1 does not sew
Branching out into Purchasing, Marketing, and Accounting, I asked 7 more sewers:
2 use a thimble regularly (one rubber, one leather)
1 uses a thimble occasionally (metal)
4 do not use thimbles
Of the 10 thimble non-users, the main reasons were not liking the constrictive feel of a thimble, not needing one, and not knowing how to use one. Two of the non-users wait until they have a sore finger from sewing to use some protection.
It helps to know whether you use the end (tip), side, or pad of your finger to push the needle, because that is where you need the most protection.
I tend to push somewhere between the pad and medial side of my right middle finger and use a metal Open Sided Thimble that accommodates my longer nail. The dimples, which keep the needle from slipping, cover the entire fingertip area usually used for hand sewing.
A thimble with ridged, dimpled metal on the tip, such as the lightweight Protect and Grip Thimble, works well for those who push with the end of the finger. Natural Fit Leather Thimbles provide soft, lightweight, flexible protection over the whole fingertip. Both types provide grip on the sides for pulling needles through fabric.
For those who want some protection without the bulky feel of a full thimble, the reusable, self-adhesive ThimblePad, UltraThimble, and All-in-One ThimblePack are good choices. The All-in-One ThimblePack also includes a stainless steel needle deflector for the hand under the quilt when hand quilting.
Similarly, Poke-a-Dots are firm but flexible dots that protect against needle pricks and help with gripping a needle. One sewer, who regularly wears a thimble on her middle finger, also uses a Poke-a-Dot on her ring finger to push the needle through the fabric.
In addition to the Black Gold needles I discussed in my December 12th Notions blog, my other new favorite Connecting Threads product is NeedleGrip-It. These clear, flexible, self-adhesive dots provide skin protection as well as assistance with gripping the needle. Some of our staff members like to use NeedleGrip-It as a thimble substitute. The dots stay on even if you wash your hands and can be reused.
I plan to use a NeedleGrip-It on my thumb and index finger to help pull thicker floss or threads, such as #5 pearl cotton, through fabric when embroidering or doing big stitch utility quilting.
Our staff members have tried many of the above products; everyone has a personal favorite! You may already know what works best for you. If not, I hope these suggestions help!