Choosing the Right Thimble

My thimblesLast fall I began doing a lot more hand sewing and I quickly realized that a thimble could be pretty useful. But what I didn’t know was that the most important part was choosing the right thimble.

I had a metal one that I got a while ago but when I tried it on, it was too tight – uncomfortable!  Not only was it too small, it dug into my callus. Previously, my hand sewing had been limited to sewing buttons, making small repairs, and hemming so I really didn’t need to use a thimble. But once I started embroidering last fall and then hand sewing some garments, I really needed a thimble.

Last year I bought a cheery red “jelly fingers” thimble, which was made out of a translucent rubber. However, I got the wrong size because it kept slipping off when I began using it. I confess it was an impulse buy because I liked the color. But I only paid a couple bucks for it at Lacis in Berkeley, which has the biggest selection of thimbles I’ve ever seen.

Adjustable thimbleAbout two months ago I tried an adjustable thimble, this was one that had an opening on one side. I got this one at Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. You put it in hot water to soften it and then put it on your finger so it would set to your size. This seemed workable. It put less pressure on my callus but still wasn’t that comfortable.

My thimble finger is the middle finger of my right hand. How do you know which is your thimble finger? Well, pay attention to which finger you use as you push the needle through your fabric. This is your thimble finger.

For a while I just didn’t didn’t bother with a thimble but the skin around the tip of my middle finger was getting sore. And after hours of hand sewing without a thimble, the skin around that area was getting tough and the needle end had poked through my skin a couple times (ouch!) when I was sewing through four layers of knit fabric. (Yes, this was the state of my finger last week.) At that point, it’s pretty obvious which finger needs a thimble!

Clearly I needed to get another thimble but I really didn’t know what I should try this time around. So last Friday I tweeted (@csewsalot) “Any using a thimble they like? Tried gel, metal & plastic but they’re not very comfortable.”

And I got a couple responses! Linzee Kull McCray (@seamswrite), who blogs at Pearl the Squirrel, tweeted: “I  like the ones that combine gel and metal–best of both worlds.” Angela (@sewmentalmama), who blogs at Sewmentalmama, tweeted: “Mine are porcelain! So not practical – but leather is worth a try” and followed up with another: “I remembered seeing a leather thimble pattern by @threadsmagazine See what u think!

Some of the thimbles for sale at Lacis in Berkeley
Some of the thimbles for sale at Lacis in Berkeley

I do have some leather scaps but I didn’t feel like making a thimble just yet. So the following day I went to Lacis and looked at rows and rows of thimbles. Frankly, I had no idea there were so many different variations, ring thimbles, palm thimbles and thimbles made out of horn, brass, leather, nickle, and more. I tried on a horn one but that wasn’t comfortable (pressed into my callus). So I looked for a gel and metal version.

Gel and metal thimbleLo and behold, I found one! I tried it on and it felt great. I bought it and began using it later that day. It’s definitely the most comfy thimble I’ve used so far. The gel is flexible and the metal top works well to push the needle through. Definitely worth the $9 I paid for it.

What’s your favorite thimble?