Tuesday, 17 November 2009


I mentioned in a previous post that I don't like sewing with a thimble. Following that, my mum suggested that I might get on better with a tailor's thimble, which made me think about how I use them, and why I don't like them.

After tracking tailor's thimbles down online (local sewing shops and department store haberdashery departments don't run to them), I've tried sewing with different types of thimble, to see how I got on.

The only ceramic thimble I have was a holiday present from a friend, and as it doesn't have any dimples in whatsoever, I assume it's only meant for decoration rather than use, so I didn't even try with that one. It can continue to sit on the mantelpiece in my workroom and look nice, without needing to earn its keep.

Dimples are important: they hold the end of the needle, and stop it skidding off. Another ornamental thimble- another present from the same friend - does have dimples, if only on the end, so I gave that one a try.

You can see that I can use it to push the needle through the leather and all the padding quite successfully. I have quite small hands and this thimble is a bit too big, which doesn't help, but even so, I find this rather an awkward way to sew.

The thimble I've been using up to now is better, but still not ideal.

As you can see, it's absolutely covered in dimples, so no matter what angle you use it push the needle, it's not going to slip. This thimble is actually silver - I bought it at an antiques fair - and while I'm fond of it, not only does it seem too good to use, on a more practical level, it worries me that silver is a soft metal, and when pushing the needle through something tough, the end of the needle could go straight through the thimble and into my finger. Like any stitcher, I'm no stranger to stabbing myself in the fingers with needles, but there's no need to go looking for trouble.

You might notice in the photo that I'm using the side of the thimble to push the needle. I always use a thimble like this - that's why I don't like using the sort that only has dimples on the end - but I'd never given it much thought, and never investigated tailor's thimbles.

Until now! A tailor's thimble differs from an ordinary sewing thimble in that it doesn't have an end: it's designed to be used using the side of the finger. As this is how I work anyway, this suits me very well. It also leaves the finger end free, which is handier than you might think, as it allows me to work in a more natural fashion, pulling threads through the fabric and so forth. It's also made of steel, and so is unlikely to allow the needle end through.

I hadn't thought about it before, but it also means that I can control the needle and push it at the same time, which is useful, though this is also possible with a sewing thimble with side dimples. I had problems photographing this as my fingers were in the way, but I hope you can see what I mean.

I still don't like using thimbles much - they get in the way, they keep falling off, they're just awkward - but I think for me, the tailor's thimble is the least worst option.

And finally...

All this experimentation did have a purpose, and the Turquoise Serpent is coming along. Here's work so far:


  1. My fingers thank you for telling about the tailor timble. Something I'm gonna try. Your serpent is really beautiful.

  2. I too find using the traditional thimbles a nuisance. So after "stabbing" myself too many times I like to use the felt pads that stick to your finger, but will look into trying the tailor's thimble next time I see one. Enjoying watching the serpent develope
    best wishes

  3. I never thought to try the felt pads, though I have seen them. I'll give them a go - thanks for the tip!

  4. If your thimble falls off, it is way too large. It should stick onto the end of your finger tightly. The end of your finger should not touch the very end inside the thimble.

  5. Unfortunately, I have quite small hands, so finding one to fit can be a problem. The smallest size the tailor's thimble I found (made by Prym) comes in is 16mm, while their smallest sewing thimble is 14mm, which would be better. I'll keep looking!

  6. Welcome to My Thimble Collection at http://mythimblecollection.blogspot.com/ and join Thimbles of the World at http://thimblesoftheworld.blogspot.com/ Greetings from Poland!