I hope you found yesterday’s post helpful about different blades available for your rotary cutter. Today we’re looking at thimbles. Choosing your thimble for hand quilting projects is key to creating the perfect stitch. Hand quilting requires many hours of stitching, so take your time to determine which one is best for you. A thimble becomes an extension on your finger, a second skin.
The first thing you need to know is that your thimble should be fitted for your middle finger. The second thing to remember is that when choosing your thimble, it needs to be extra tight on your finger. I always ask my students when they enter the class and place their thimble on: ‘’Do you feel your blood pressure in the thimble?’’. If they answer yes then I respond ‘’Good’’. If they answer no then it means the thimble is too big.
Why? When you begin quilting with a thimble, your finger will contract, or shrink if you prefer, resulting in the thimble falling off. The hand quilting technique I recommend for a perfect stitch requires a well-fitted thimble as it involves repeatedly having your finger in a vertical position.
Let’s review the various thimbles available on the market and see which one best fits the requirements for hand quilting. I would say there are five thimble categories.
1. Traditional metal thimbles
These are perfect protection for hand quilting, but you need to ensure you choose a thimble with a ridge or slip-stop edge around the top. When fitting for this kind of thimble, keep in mind that your finger doesn’t have to reach the end of the thimble, the thimble simply needs to be fitting perfectly around your finger. This means that having long nails shouldn’t be an issue unless you are fond of extra long fingernails (my nail length has never been a problem).
For this blog, I tested the UNIQUE Sewing Safety Thimble and the recessed top is perfect to prevent needles from slipping when I’m hand quilting. Like most other brands, the thimbles come in sizes small, medium, and large. Some brands even carry the extra small size.
2. Open-sided thimbles
This is my favorite category for hand quilting as the open-sided thimbles are ergonomically designed to ease your hand quilting work. It does require some adjustment in your hand quilting technique compared to the traditional metal thimble, but you’ll see the result in your stitches. If you happen to have extra-long fingernails, this is the ideal thimble for you.
I tested the Clover Open-Sided Thimble for this post and must say I love it! It comes in two sizes and the rings can be loosened or tightened so it does fit everyone. The dimpled, hard metal section is great as it holds your needle tip in position when pushing it through the three layers. I also like its elongated tip which helps push the needle through your stitches.
3. Leather thimbles
These thimbles are designed mostly for embroidery and crewel work. They’re also ideal for quilters who have arthritic fingers. What’s nice about leather thimbles is that they mold to your finger over time and become a second skin which is why so many quilters prefer these to the traditional metal thimbles. However, these thimbles are not the best thimbles for hand quilting using my technique. You’ll also need to restock these thimbles as, unlike the metal thimbles, they don’t last long. The needles do damage and eventually tear the leather.
I tested 3 different leather thimbles and found that for hand quilting, the Clover Coin Thimble works best. It’s a finger-moulding soft leather thimble with a dimpled metal coin disc to protect your finger. The leather around the disc has a good edge to allow my needle motion.
I also tried the Clover Natural Fit Leather Thimble and the Clover Double Sided Thimble, but they couldn’t hold the needle in place to create the hand quilting motion I’m used to as there are no seams or stitches where the needle can be held in place. The Natural Fit Leather Thimble could work to protect my thumb.
4. Ring thimbles
These metal rings are great for cross-stitching and can be adjusted for any finger. Although I’m sure they were not designed for this use, I’ve started suggesting these to combine thimbles when hand quilting and in need of relief. Although it reduces the detection of the needlepoint, quilters can use them on their forefinger which is below the quilt when hand quilting.
I tested the Clover Adjustable Ring Thimble and the UNIQUE Sewing Brass Ring Thimble and found them both comfortable. The dimples are not deep enough to firmly hold the needle in place, but they are perfect for my use in hand quilting.
Any other thimble not fitting in the above categories fall into this category and should not be used for hand quilting. Round thimbles, magnetic thimbles and porcelain thimbles are just a few examples of thimbles that should never be seen in your tool kit.
I hope this helps you better understand what to look for in a thimble for a perfect fit.
As with all thimbles, trying them out and practicing hand quilting is necessary to master this technique. Come back tomorrow as I demonstrate my hand quilting technique.