A thimble is a device used to protect your finger as you push a needle through fabric while hand stitching. Surprisingly, there are actually quite a number of different thimble styles available. Everyone has their own preference as to which finger or which part of their finger they use to operate a thimble. As a result, the many thimble types take these preferences into consideration to give sewing enthusiasts the most comfortable option possible.
Most people are familiar with the classic thimble. It looks like a little cup made of metal (steel or brass) or plastic with small dimples that grab the end of the needle and prevent it from slipping as you push it through the fabric. It is worn on the finger tip. Some only have dimples on the top, others have them on the sides as well. Some have a convex top some have concave tops. Many quilters prefer a variation of this classic thimble that has slots as well as dimples. It is a little better at preventing slipping.
Open Sided Thimble
The open sided thimble is worn at the finger tip but is used only in one direction.
Soft Comfort Thimble
Prym makes a hybrid of the above two styles. It is made of a soft and pliable material that is still strong. They call it the “soft comfort thimble”. It is quite similar to the open sided thimble.
Ring thimbles are worn around the finger as the name suggests. They come in a couple different styles: classic and with a plate. The classic style is a simple ring with dimples. The ring with a plate has a separate dimpled plate which is typically worn so that the plate rests on the hand at the base of the finger. These are adjustable.
Leather thimbles are available in a couple styles too. The simple classic style that fits over the top of the finger allows you to push the needle with the top of the finger or the side. My personal favourite is the coin thimble. This is a leather thimble, often worn on the thumb with a small dimpled metal “coin” in the side. I have had mine for over 20 years and it is still going strong after hand stitching many quilts.
And last but not least, a thimble for a slightly different purpose, the thermal thimble is intended to protect your finger and thumb as you press fabrics. They allow you to run your finger or thumb along the edge of your fabric immediately after you apply a hot iron. It’s always better to not cook your finger when you are sewing!
There are a number of companies that make thimbles and in my experience they all stand up quite nicely.
- Singer, and
(in alphabetical order) are some of the most common brands.
They range in price from a few dollars to $20 each depending on the type.
Most styles come in various sizes to accommodate the best fit for everyone. Thankfully, most of them are inexpensive, so it doesn’t hurt if you need to try a few to find the one that’s just right. You will know you have found the right thimble for you when you forget that you have it on. It should become an extension of your finger or hand.