Last Updated on March 18, 2023
What is a Thimble for? There surely won’t be anyone who doesn’t know what a thimble is. This protective cap is used by both sewing masters and ordinary people who need to darn a pocket or sock. The thimble, however, is more complicated than it might seem at first. What secrets does its history keep, and has it always been used for its intended purpose? Let’s have a look.
What is a Thimble?
When sewing, a cap called a thimble is placed on the finger to prevent needle stings. Metal is often used for manufacturing because plastic products are not durable and practical. They wear out faster and cannot always protect sewist’s hands.
A thimble is usually worn on the index finger, but this is not definite – each person proceeds from their convenience and comfort.
History of Thimble: How Did the Thimble Come out?
This protective cap has been known since the 17th century. However, people may have used it before. True, the materials of manufacture could be slightly different.
At different times, thimbles were made from different materials available to use. Gold, silver, and bronze items were in demand at the court.
After a while, the artisans began to engrave patterns, ornaments, and the owner’s initials on the caps decorated with stones. But such decor does not bring any benefit – this is done solely for aesthetic pleasure.
- 10,000- years ago, unique stones were used to help sew leather.
- 2500- years ago, bronze thimbles were already used in the Mediterranean countries.
- Since 100 AD, the ancient Romans have spread thimbles in their colonies in Europe.
- In 1150, the well-known nun, healer, and scientist Hildegard von Bingen went to the monastery as a young girl. A census of her dowry mentions various thimbles.
- Around 1500, humankind knew the first unique products from the workshops of Nuremberg. Paracelsus discovered the metal zinc. It was the beginning of the production of brass and products from it.
- Since 1537, there has been the first Nuremberg code of laws, “Order for thimble-makers, i.e., there is a particular guild.
- Around 1568, JostAmmann published a book on professions, depicting thimble makers with new working methods.
- Since 1628, there has been a thimble cartel in Holland.
- Since 1696, the Dutchman Lofting has been producing thimbles using a steam engine from England – the beginning of industrial production.
- Since 1710, there have been large factories in Rhineland, Sindwig, and Iserlohn (Germany).
- Since 1756, the Swedes have been trying to get to the technology of industrial production of thimbles by espionage.
- In 1763, agents of the Austrian Empress Maria Theresa recruited several craftsmen from Nuremberg and took them out of the city, hidden in straw carts. So Austria managed to establish its production.
- In 1824, the jeweler J.F. Gabler first presented his thimbles to the general public – the beginning of the world’s largest thimble factory. Together with other large enterprises, “Sorgel and Stolmaer” and “Lothammer” in southern Germany, a world-class production center for these little seamstress assistants grew up. Other centers were in France, England and America.
- 1963 – Helmut Greif bought the Gablercompany and modernized the entire factory, which then burned to the ground.
- 1982 Opening at the Fingerhut Gallery by Thorwald and Brigitte Greif.
Types of Thimbles
Today, in specialized stores, you can find a large selection of accessories that facilitate the work of a sewist.
Conventionally, they are divided into decorative and functional. But even the first ones can perform their task by five points since nothing interferes with the work.
At the same time, products may differ from each other not only in appearance but also in functionality:
- Simple Thimbles
- Ring Thimble: The ring is another version without a top. Great for lateral pushing of the needle. It has a special coating that prevents slipping and is ideal for small felting parts. The ergonomic thimble is an innovative model that provides high comfort while sewing. Its base is made of soft plastic, and the tip is hard.
- Leather thimble: a convenient device with a metal plate. They are designed for long-term work, allowing the finger to breathe while protecting it from damage.
- Anti-slip thimble: made of rubber.
- Quilting Thimble: adjustable size and fits all fingers.
- Anti-rotation: a metal tip with a corrugated surface. The base of the thimble is made of soft rubber.
- For knitting: they have yarn guides and are ideal for distributing threads of different shades.
So, What is a Thimble for?
The thimble is a cap you must put on the finger before sewing. The design of the thimbles allows you to keep your fingers safe and sound while working with different fabrics.
We need a thimble to protect our fingers during hand sewing with a needle. The thimble is of utmost importance when working with dense materials, such as when stitching trousers, coats, and draperies.
Although special sewing machines are used to grind parts, you must do some operations manually. Thimbles are most relevant for such operations as hemming jeans and trousers. Suit and draped materials are challenging to hand stitch without a thimble.
How to Use a Thimble?
The main rule of use is that the thimble should fit snugly. Otherwise, it will be uncomfortable to sew. It should not slip, and there should be no intense pressure. During operation, the needle is held with the thumb and forefinger.
After piercing the tissue, the needle is carefully pushed with a thimble. So that the tool does not slip, its ear should rest against a thimble.
How to Choose a Thimble?
Further convenience in work will depend on how correctly you have chosen the size of the thimble – it should not jump off, but it should be tight enough. The thimble is selected on the middle finger of the working hand.
Measure the circumference of the nail phalanx of the middle finger (between the nail and the fold) with a thread. Divide the result in mm by 3.14 and add 2 mm for the “loose fit.”
For example, I measure the circumference of the phalanx of the finger – I get 45 mm. 45:3.14+2= 16.3 mm. Those thimble sizes 16 and 16.5 mm are suitable for me.
I checked – the size of my working thimble, which I have been using for many years, is 16 mm; (the thimble “didn’t fit in”). Let’s recheck the formula: measure and count: 51: 3.14 + 2 = 18.24 – size 18, the one that fits that finger.
When measuring a finger, do not pull it strongly with a thread. The thread should fit snugly – this is enough, and make sure that the thread turns flat and not “obliquely.”
Attention, if you have a chic manicure with long nails – this model is not for you! It will be best if you have a thimble in the form of a “ring” or a detachable model.
People Also Ask – FAQ
A thimble is a cap for the finger. It protects our fingers from being pricked by a needle when sewing on the hands. Sewists usually put it on the finger to push the needle through thick material.
Put a thimble on your right middle finger, and use your index and thumb to grip the needle. When piercing the fabric, we need to push the needle with it. The needle’s eye should sit against the side of the thimble. The thimble is sometimes worn on the index finger rather than the middle one.
Take an unnecessary lipstick cap or any other bottle that fits the diameter of your finger. Drill a few holes in it. Insert a coin inside, then a piece of sponge or travel mat. You can also make your thimble from leftover leather.
Sewers use coin thimbles to save their finger from random pokes with hand needles.
Yes, it is worth the money. It is a practical accessory that often proves incredibly valuable.
Yes. Thimbles have holes to let moisture out, allowing sweat to evaporate.
Sewing is a skill that requires patience, agility, and accuracy. Several tools are involved in sewing, including needles, threads, scissors, and a thimble (a small tool for holding a needle).
The benefits of using thimbles are that they help protect your fingers from the sharp point of the needle and get hurt while sewing.
However, a good thimble should be comfortable to hold, easy to use and provide maximum protection. The thimble is usually made out of leather or plastic. But leather thimbles are more durable than plastic ones.
“I like to turn a piece of string into something that I can wear.” I am dedicated to sharing knowledge on the necessary sewing equipment in The Sewing Stuffs.
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