Thimbles for Sewing and Quilting
A thimble is a bell or ring shaped sheath with a harder substance, such as bone, leather, metal, wood, rubber or many modern thimbles are made from silicone. It is worn on the tip or middle of a finger or thumb to help push a needle while sewing and to protect the finger/thumb from being pricked. Many thimbles are pitted to help hold the needle in place.
The use of thimbles of some kind as a sewing aid dates back thousands of years and there are many different shapes and types. As a generalisation, thimbles tend to be described as either intended for pushing a needle (comparable to a thimble ring, a tailor’s ring or the sewing palm used by sailors making heavy sails), while the more common sewing thimbles are used to push the needle and at the same time to protect against the needle while in use.
The various elements of a thimble are the:
- Crown/cap: the area that forms the lid of the thimble;
- Side: the area between the crown and the rim;
- Rim: a thicker layer of metal, etc., around the base of a thimble to make the thimble stronger and to protect the finger/thumb from a needle that has slipped;
- Indentations (knurling): small, round indentations on the sides and cap of a sewing needle. The word knurling is a general term associated with machine made indentations, grooves or ridges on metal items in general.
There are various types of thimbles, including:
- Finger shields (also known as finger stalls, finger guards or finger protectors): they are made from a ring with a long shield attached to it. They often have a crown or a partial crown, but are open down one long side;
- Quilter’s thimbles: a form of sheath thimble made of two pieces of leather that cover a finger. Often there is a piece of metal or coin sewn into one side of the sheath that is used to push the needle through numerous layers of cloth associated with a quilt of some form;
- Thimble rings: a ring form with no crown. It is similar to a tailor’s thimble, but only about one cm in depth;
- Sewing thimbles: the ‘normal’ thimble with a crown, sides and since the eighteenth century a rim around its lower edge;
- Tailor’s thimbles: open ended thimbles used by tailors to allow them to manipulate the cloth they are sewing
- Thimblettes are becoming popular and are made to adhere to the tip of finger to push your needle through without damaging the finger at all.