A thimble seems like such a simple, inexpensive piece of sewing equipment that we rarely give them much thought. Except when we're cursing at them because they are bulky, slip off our fingers, and get in the way. Take the thimble off in frustration, and soon back on it goes, as your fingers start looking like plucked porcupines.
When hand stitching or basting you should always use a thimble. And don't try to make do with tape or foam on your fingers--a needle will penetrate that even more easily than fabric. We should have all realized it by now, but thimbles are important, and a good fitting one would be wonderful, if it were possible to find. So, how do you go about getting a thimble that fits? Thimbles vary in whether they are open or closed at the top, the material they are made from, the number and size of indentations they have, and the diameter of the thimble.
You should consider all four to get a thimble that fits you correctly. The most obvious factor is the diameter of the thimble. Most of us just grab something at the fabric store, without really thinking about sizing.
And the thimble market doesn't help all that much, because there is no standardized sizing for thimbles, the way that there is for rings. Therefore, your best choice is to try on several. An open thimble, one with no top, the end of your finger should touch the inside top of the thimble.
The fingernail shouldn't contact the nail guard. The thimble shouldn't drop off your finger when your hands hang at your sides, but you shouldn't be able to feel a pulse pounding in your finger either. A closed thimble, the more common sort that does have a top, your fingernail shouldn't touch the top inside of the thimble. Again, it should stay on when your hands hang at your sides, but not be so tight as to allow you to feel your pulse.
If you have long fingernails, the open thimble may work best for you. Alternatively, you may want to try a plastic thimble, which will be less likely to damage your nails, and is flexible enough to shape itself around your nail for a better fit. In general, however, metal thimbles are preferable, as they provide more protection.
Finally, consider the number and size of the indentations on the thimble. The more indentations there are the more control you will generally have. Two thimbles may fit on the finger or thumb equally well, but the one with more indentations will allow you to maneuver your fingers more easily, and avoid being forced into awkward positions to put pressure on the needle. Generally speaking, the smaller the indentations the more control you will have as well. However, if you work with larger needles, make sure that the needle head fits snugly into the thimble indentations.
If they are too small, the needle will slip, slowing you down and possibly causing you an injury. So, the next time you're at the fabric shop, take a little time to try on some thimbles of different sizes and materials. You'll find that the right thimble can make hand-sewing infinitely more fun!.
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