So, what is a thimble? A thimble is a small cover that goes on the end of your finger to protect it from being pricked by a needle when hand sewing. This is especially important when you are sewing thick fabrics or leather and need a bit of pressure to push the needle through the fabric. They are also essential when you are doing prolonged hand sewing or beading where there is an increased risk of you pricking yourself repeatedly.
What is a Thimble?
A thimble is a cup-like finger protector used for sewing both by tailors and home sewers. Most thimbles have lots of little indents so that the end of the needle won't slip when you push it through thus protecting your finger.
What Finger is a Thimble Worn On?
They are generally worn on the middle finger but you can put it on your index finger or even thumb if that is more comfortable with your sewing style. I tend to favor wearing mine on my index finger. While the cap style is worn on the end of the finger, some leather styles can encase the whole length.
What is a Thimble - Types
Modern sewing thimbles are made of metal, leather or rubber. Years ago I remember my mother having some ceramic ones with tiny little paintings on them. They weren't very practical to use but were beautiful to look at. Some thimbles or finger guards can even have cutouts for your nails to poke through, so no need to reach for the nail scissors!
Metal thimbles look like a small cap with a pitted or indented surface. These are cheap and readily available at sewing and craft shops.
Leather thimbles are popular for quilting and hand embroidery as they are more flexible and your finger tends to sweat less. Over time leather finger coverings mold to your finger making them even more comfortable.
Rubber Thimbles are not only used for sewing but also for leafing through paper or money. They protect from paper cuts and provide grip.
Antique thimbles are often considered valuable collectibles and were often made from brass or silver and even bone, glass, wood, and porcelain. Many have intricate carvings and designs. Pure silver tends to dent and mark easily as it is a soft metal so many antique thimbles were silver plated over steel for durability.
If you want to start collecting thimbles then eBay is a great place to start. The nice thing about collecting thimbles is that they are small and easy to display even if you have limited room.
Trivia - Did you know that thimble collectors are called digitabulists
Where to Buy Thimbles
Thimbles can be purchased from your local haberdashery store or online from Amazon. There are usually very cheap but you may need to test a few to get one that fits perfectly and is comfortable for prolonged sewing.
What is a Thimble - In Conclusion
I hope that clears up the question "What is a Thimble". Leave any questions you still have in the comments.
More Hand Sewing Articles
If you are looking up what is a thimble, then I assume you are about to do some hand sewing! Start by learning how to thread a needle and all about needle threaders which can make your job much easier.
Here are some more articles that might help you: