Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thimbles - Plain & Fancy

Long before the sewing machine became a permanent member of the household, all sewing and mending was done by hand. Most every sewing box included a simple, utilitarian object worn to protect the finger-tip: a thimble. 

Nowadays, most needleworkers never bother to protect their fingers because modern highly polished needles and thinner fabrics mean that fingers don't get so sore. I have to admit, I have tried to use a thimble while doing needlework and it ends up being more trouble than it's worth. 
My collection of thimbles began like my collection of buttons; a cherished inheritance from my grandmothers. I proudly display my thimble collection in my sewing room, along with many other vintage sewing tools.

I enjoy looking at my thimbles and the history behind each one of them intrigues me. I wonder what my grandmothers might have been sewing or mending when they used their thimbles. The unique thing about my collection is that no two are exactly alike, some are plain and some are fancy. They range in shape, size and type of material they are made from. Some look almost new and others are very worn and even dented. A couple of them are plastic and the rest are made from brass, silver and nickle. Several of them have advertising on them from insurance companies, butter companies and coffee companies, and others are decorative either on the edge with beautiful engraving or the entire thimble is painted in a variety of colors.

Thimbles are a great sewing tool to collect and even a relatively large collection won’t take up a lot of space. They really are pretty, quite fascinating and many are inexpensive.  What more could you want?
Out of curiousity, I am wondering who uses thimbles in their sewing or needlework? Please take time to leave a comment and tell me about it!


ShirleyC said...

I absolutely have to use a thimble to do hand sewing. My mom taught me as a kid to hand sew, and she also made me wear a thimble so I cannot remember ever sewing without one.
My fingernails have a tendency to grow long, and when I hand sew I have to be sure the nail on that finger is short. LOL
I do have a hard time keeping one on sometimes. I have a bunch of thimbles, but only one that seems to fit right. I have tried all kinds.
When I did some quilting years ago, I would tape some white medical tape around my finger so I wouldn't have to keep chasing that thimble.
Thanks for sharing.

jhwolf said...

I began using a thimble when I was hand quilting. I use my grandmother's thimble since my fingers are rather small. I do however use it on my third finger where most people use it on the second finger. To keep it attached, I lick my finger before putting it on. This seems to form a vacuum so I'm not chasing it around too.

I'm glad to see you posting again. I always enjoy your postings.

Judy in MO

Victoria said...

I have several which belonged to my grandmother and great grandmother. One is in a tiny case. The one I use is leather with a metal tip. It provides a very good fit and finger protection as well as breathability.
Years ago when I did french hand sewing,it was invaluable. Hand sewing of any type can be relaxing. My daughters are learning and greatly enjoy it with a thimble of course.

Sisterbill said...

I absolutely LOVE thimbles but have a love/hate relationship with trying to use them. I have a collection of thimbles that began when I was a teenager. Many are just pretty, some utilitarian, some are momentos from a friend's travels, and some are very precious because of who they belonged to. I even have one (and it's cover)from Alaska that is fur and designed to be used (it is isn't pretty at all). I have straw ones, china ones, silver ones, wooden ones and leather ones also. There are well over 100 maybe close to 200 and they each hold a special place in my heart. Thanks, for sharing your collection.

Becky said...

What a nice collection. I've always been intrigued by thimbles and thought I would start a collection once upon a time. My collection has one thimble. It has a pumpkin on it.

I do have various ones that I've bought or have been my mother's and grandmother's, but they're all kind of alike. Only on hand quilting do I use a thimble - on my third finger, and it has to be small and with a flat, not rounded, top. Otherwise, thimbles drive me crazy to use, but I love to look at them.

Jeannie B. said...

I love your Thimble Collection. You have neat things. I always use a thimble when I sew. I have enjoyed reading the comments about who used a thimble!

LAnderson said...

I am amazed how many of you use thimbles! I have tried several times and it's like sewing with your left hand when you are right-handed - just doesn't work for me, instead I am "blessed" with permanent calluses on my finger! LOL!

zees5 said...

I have to have a thimble for hand embroidery. I have two vintage ones I hope I never lose (I lose things all the time). One has a half open top with a cutter. It's like a can opener opened the top half way and bent it back to make a cutter. I don't use the cutter, but I love the openess. That one is brass. The other one I have is silver, plain jane and it is all open on the top. I'd love to have a really fancy one.

LAnderson said...

Oh I would LOVE to see your thimble that is a thread cutter!!


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