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Sore Fingers? A Thimble Issue!

Hand quilting without a thimble. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Your thimble, love it or hate it?

I mostly hate mine! But a hand quilter needs a thimble right? Maybe you’re like me and feel like you’ve tried every type of thimble under the sun and still there isn’t one that suits you?

Which thimble would you choose for hand quilting? © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudiio.com

Which one would you choose?

  1. I have a yellow plastic thimble, which is too big and just totally useless in every respect.
  2. I have a white plastic finger guard that you’re supposed to soak in warm water so that you can mould it around your finger to fit – yep too bulky and slippery, couldn’t feel an elephant through it.
  3. Then there’s the traditional metal thimble. Love the dimpled top, totally dislike that it makes my finger hot and sweaty and falls off all the time.
  4. Then there’s the plain old leather thimble. This is a dream. Flexible, breathable, lightweight. Then it gets a bit worn and the needle pierces your finger when you least expect it. Your whole household goes deaf from your piercing screams.
  5. Then you discover the leather thimble with the metal disk over the finger tip. This is bliss. You declare it the next best thing since sliced bread and are certain you’ll never get a blood stain on your quilt again.  Then the metal disk falls off because it’s only held on with three stitches.  You go to purchase another one and have an attack of the vapours because they’ve only got one brand in stock – and it’s four times the price of the last one you bought. And the metal disk is still only held on with three stitches.

Surely there’s another way?

Going Naked

Throw out your thimble and go naked! This works if you’re prepared to become a masochist for the first few weeks/months as your finger tips begin to harden. You’ll also need to ensure delicate family members are supplied with ear defenders: swearing will ensue. With. Every. Stitch. That’s a whole lot of swearing (tip: now’s the time to organise a swear jar – that get rich quick scheme you’ve been searching for your whole life is finally here!). The naked method is, however, very cheap. Especially if you discard the swear jar, ruined blood-stained fabrics and the pursuant lack of feeling in your fingertips. It does however leave sufficient feeling to be completely aware of what you’re sewing and how far your needle has gone through the fabric, etc.

Hand quilting without a thimble. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Naked hand quilting! Rocking that needle in the buff!

This has become my favourite method. A word of warning though: if you use this method you’ll have to take at least a few stitches every day other wise your finger tips will soften up and you’ll have to go through the whole painful process again. And so will your family.

I’ve also found a workable solution to getting the needle to go through thicker layers of fabric without a thimble and use the underside of my finger nail to push the needle through. Failing this I have discovered yet another type of thimble/finger guard that I wear on the finger behind my rocking finger (i.e. on my middle finger) to help push the needle through. It’s an awesome little metal thing with lovely dimples, that you can adjust to fit your own finger. It’s kind of like a thimble with the top chopped off! It costs very little. But, it can save a lot of pain!

Hand quilting without a thimble. Using a metal finger protector. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

My punctured index finger rocks! And my middle finger has a metal finger protector for pushing through thicker layers.

So, what do you like to cover up with, or do you go naked too?!

In the Hoop Today

Hand quilting a nine patch block. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Still quilting nine patches! 15 down, 55 to go…

I shall be donning my thimble thingy on my middle finger later again today for this week’s Slow Sunday Stitching – I want  to do some more hand quilting on my Summer Blues quilt. I’ve got 15 nine patches all finished, but need to stitch 5 more today if I’m going to keep on top of the schedule I made myself before I move into week 3.  That’s a whole lot of quilting. Especially if I have a film or something on in the background… I think I might listen to a podcast instead, I seem to quilt quicker if I don’t have to keep looking up! I noticed there’s an interview with Malka from A Stitch in Dye over on The While She Naps podcast, so that’s a distinct possibility.

If you have any podcasts you love to listen to and want to recommend please leave a comment!

I’m sure there are lots of us hand quilters out there that keep an eye (ear?!) out for something good to listen to as we stitch.  5 hours of listening to my own thoughts this afternoon might get a bit much, haha!

I’m heading over to link up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching to see what everyone’s been up to this week.  Coming?

Check out my favourite link parties here

Favourite Link Parties graphic © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com


Can You Help?

Before I head off to do something stitchy, I wonder if you could help me make a decision?  I like the look of this blog very much (barring some minor tweaks I still need to make), but do you find the links in the text easy enough to read and find?  Would it be helpful if I changed them to a brighter colour? Please let me know by leaving a vote in the poll (no personal details will be collected and the responses will only be used to determine how to make this blog a better place!)

Thanks for your help!


 

And Finally…

Designing a seasonal colour scheme: autumn. Colours of leaves and trees on a woodland walk in 2010. © Stephanie Boon, www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Autumn Colour

I’ve added a new page to the blog this week regarding advertising, particularly the Amazon links I sometimes use. You’ll be able to find the link under the ‘welcome’ tab at the top of the page in future.

And last of all, I hope you’re enjoying my new series on designing a colour scheme for your quilt.  This week’s post is all about designing a seasonal colour scheme, and of course we kick off with autumn/fall! I’d love it if you checked it out and let me know your thoughts.

Enjoy your slow stitching today!  I look forward to catching up with you soon 🙂

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44 replies
  1. Carole
    Carole says:

    I have to use a thimble, I can’t have skin breaks on my fingers due to my work in the medical field. I use a leather thimble, and when it wears out on the top, I turn it around and use the back. When that wears out, I fold up the bottom and use that part. They last three times as long using all the available surfaces. I recently finally had to replace mine, after almost 10 years of service. Visiting from Slow Stitching Sunday.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Oh yes Carole, I can imagine working in the medical field would be quite a nightmare with split and calloused fingers. You have a very thrifty way of using your leather thimble – 10 years service is amazing! I have reversed mine, but never thought to roll them up; I reckon mine lasted a few months. I did love it though, it’s very comfortable and feels much more natural because it’s so flexible. It really is like a second skin I guess.

      Reply
  2. tubakk
    tubakk says:

    I go naked (eh…. my fingers), but I have a thimble to use the days after I’ve hit the hole in my finger with a needle. I don’t like to use it, though.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I reckon we could make some good halloween costumes with the amount of needles we seem to have sticking out of our fingers 😀 Should probably put some clothes on though, or poor unsuspecting people will get more of a fright than they bargained for!

      Reply
  3. Nita
    Nita says:

    I used to go naked, but then after not quilting for a few years, I couldn’t stick it out (hahaha) long enough to get a new callus. Then I discovered the leather sticky dots and I love love love LOVE rhem.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      What gets me is sticking the eye of the needle into your finger is more painful than the point! I really am going to have to try out those dots. I do like to feel unencumbered when I’m stitching 🙂

      Reply
  4. Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow
    Deb @ Frugal Little Bungalow says:

    I use a metal thimble on my middle finger for quilting…if yours is falling off you just need a smaller size. I have one that’s a bit tight and one that is perfect. For applique I just cannot use a thimble of any sort …have tried but everything feels just too awkward so my finger is a mess sometimes. I even tried those little dots and couldn’t stand them either.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Ooh that’s interesting Deb, I’ve never felt the need to use one for appliqué. One thing I haven’t tried yet are those dots, some people seem to love them, others not so much. It’s a good job there are so many different things on the market really – something for everyone (once you find the right one!).

      Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      The one I use on my middle finger is adjustable by squeezing the overlapping ring at the back. I love it, but it’s slightly the wrong shape for my index finger because it doesn’t actually cover the tip – it just sits a bit lower. I’ll keep on trying new styles though until I find the right one! Like you, my underhand is all callus.

      Reply
  5. Sandra
    Sandra says:

    I use a thimble for everything. I have it on my ring finger as this is my “pusher” finger. This past year I tried hand-quilting with a thimble from “the Thimblelady”. Quite pricey and you have to commit to changing how you quilt, but I loved it! The method causes less pain in the finger joints. On a side note about naked quilting….it my just be an urban legend, but I’ve heard of someone losing the tip of their finger due to infection from all the pokes. Who knows if it’s true, though! My philosophy, do whatever works!….personally I’ll have to save the naked for the beach and not my quilting, lol

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hi Sandra lovely to meet you and thanks for commenting. The beach is probably the last place I’d consider going naked! It’s so interesting that even something as small and apparently insignificant as a thimble can be such a personal thing. We all seem to have very different preferences. I hadn’t heard of the loss of a finger tip due to infection through sewing, eek! I have to say I’m a bit worried now… I’ll never say never to using a thimble again, it’s just about finding the right one for the job 🙂

      Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I do like the naked feeling very much Tanya – apart from when the eye of the needle goes deep into a hole in my fingertip, then it feels bruised. Maybe a plaster is all it’ll take to stop the soreness – it sounds like it might be a similar solution to the adhesive dots everyone’s recommending. Might well give your version a try first – it’s probably cheaper!

      Reply
  6. Maureen
    Maureen says:

    Most definitely enjoying your latest series on designing a colour scheme, extremely interesting! Your method of using the underside of your nail when hand quilting is one I resorted to a few years ago, unfortunately I always ended up with a dip in the nail – but hey it worked for me!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Oh I’m so glad you’re enjoying it Maureen. Sometimes you have an idea for something, but aren’t quite sure whether you’ve got it right. I know that ‘dip’ in the nail thing too! Often when I’m sewing hexies together or doing appliqué I seem to wear away part of my nail. Now this is a bit weird, but I sometimes watch those crime drama things and wonder if the mortician would ever be able to tell a quilter from the state of their fingers and nails, haha!!!

      Reply
  7. sizzlewaggle
    sizzlewaggle says:

    I hate sewing with thimbles as well, and have a similar collection of rejects in my kit. But also, I recently managed to embed the eye end of a needle in my finger while doing some piecing and ended up with a really painful and tenacious infection…it is unbelievable how much pain a tiny little wound can generate! I really like those little “Thimblepad” leather disks that have adhesive on one side. They are perfect for me, because they leave the rest of my finger free to feel and move. A little pricey but the adhesive lasts for a very long time (like, longer than I can remember where I stuck the darn thing until I needed it again!), and they do save me from constant injury. Have not tried them for hand quilting yet, but I do piecing by hand, and embroidery, and sewing on bindings and etc, and they work great for all that.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Oh poor you, that sounds horrid. Sandra mentioned the risk of infection too, so I guess it’s not an urban myth after all :/ (Or maybe it’s the complete loss of a fingertip that’s the myth part?) I really am going to have to try out these adhesive dots, you’re all saying such great things about them. I like the idea that I can stick them all over the place too, maybe I would’t lose them that way, haha! Thank you so much for coming by and having a chat, lovely to meet you 🙂

      Reply
  8. audrey
    audrey says:

    You are very brave! I’ve tried quilting sans thimbles before but it hurts so much worse to have the needle go into my fingers backwards than from the point stabbing into me. I keep coming back to my very thick leather thimbles and replacing them occasionally as they wear out!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I don’t know about brave, Audrey! I just got so fed up with not finding anything comfortable to wear, or piercing the leather thimbles I had that my fingers just ended up calloused anyway. I still get sore fingers sometimes though, which is why it’s so interesting to find out what everyone else prefers – I can’t believe how many different solutions there are and how many I’ve still yet to try.

      Reply
  9. Jackie
    Jackie says:

    I actually use Curad sensitive skin “spots”. They are little 1″ round bandaids. They come 50 to a box and they are fairly cheap at Walmart. Just enough protection. I like them better than any real thimble I’ve ever tried. Good luck!

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I really think there’s something to be said for being able to properly feel the needle and the way it goes through the fabric (rather than your finger). From what everyone’s saying it sounds like these little dots are ideal for that and I’d like to give them a try, thanks for recommending them Jackie!

      Reply
  10. threeundertwo
    threeundertwo says:

    I go naked, but I play the harp, so the pads of my fingers have pretty thick callouses. I do like those little black leather thimbles sometimes though, and buy a handful at a time because they seem to stretch out of shape. I want to try your interesting finger wrap.

    Glad I found your lovely blog.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Oh to be able to play the harp, how wonderful. (Actually I’d like to be able to play anything more than the cord of g on my classical guitar, but there we are!) I’m so glad we met, your blog is lovely too 🙂

      Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Ahem, I confess I had to look up chatelaine – I couldn’t remember what it was! And now I want one! I love EPP, but I’ve never found I needed a thimble for it, although I’ve probably punctured my fingers a few times…

      Reply
  11. Cathy L in IA
    Cathy L in IA says:

    I never thought I would get used to a thimble. I have a collection like yours because I tried everything I could find. BUT you don’t have the one I ended up settling on…it’s metal, it was very very cheap (probably the cheapest of all of them) and it has a ridge and dimples on top. I had to try different sizes also. Now it is like a part of me. My underneath finger is calloused. I only wear the thimble for hand quilting. I don’t wear it when I embroider.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Ah, now I have seen those online Cathy, but not locally. Next time I make an order I’ll give one a try, thank you for the recommendation! I think it’s always worth experimenting – you never know, you might find the best thing ever. It seems like most of us have very calloused under fingers, not pretty but very useful!

      Reply
  12. Ann
    Ann says:

    I use a Roxanne thimble which I bought from her years ago. This was after the needle eye punched through the dimple on the cheap metal ones I used previously. If I did more hand quilting I’d like something on my bottom finger(s), too. They looked like your photo. Ouch. Even the memory hurts.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      I’ve never heard of a needle going through a metal thimble Ann, that sounds nasty. Certainly not something you’d expect (I’d have been putting quite a lot in the swear jar that day, I can tell you!).

      Reply
  13. Deb
    Deb says:

    I have been a mostly naked finger quilter but when things get to the point I need a little protection to continue my stitching I take out my trusty Nimble Thimble, a small black leather thimble that has a small metal disk at the finger pad tip.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hi Deb, thanks for coming by and letting us know your favourite! A lot of people swear by them, and so far I have to agree they’re really comfy and quite natural feeling compared to others. Nothing beats going naked though does it?!

      Reply
  14. Bossymamma
    Bossymamma says:

    I’m lagging behind with your colour scheme series due to an unplanned period from home. I hope I’ll be able to catch up OK when I return. 🙂

    Reply
  15. Dolores
    Dolores says:

    I use a standard metal thimble but not the real cheap ones. Get one that fits fine and before putting it on, lick your finger. It won’t slip off. Been there, done that and I always lick now.

    Reply
  16. Yazmin @ The Family Brick
    Yazmin @ The Family Brick says:

    Stabbing myself is one of the main reasons I don’t hand stitch! Solves the problem, easy-peasy… but of course, that’s not an option for you. 😉

    I like the blog and your writing style. It’s easy to see why you have a community!

    And thanks again for your comments over on ProBlogger. I really appreciated them.

    Reply
    • Stephie
      Stephie says:

      Hi Yazmin, thanks for coming over and your lovely comments! If any readers out there have a family that loves Lego check out Yasmin’s blog The Family Brick! 🙂

      Reply

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