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- Article author: Jan Larson
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Whether you love quilting, embroidering, or hand-stitching, thimbles are great sewing tools to keep your finger protected. Sometimes, when you push the needle into the fabric with your finger, you may feel a “sinkhole” or a tiny puncture may appear over time.
When you wear a thimble covering your finger pad, there is no such accident. Especially if you buy open nail style thimbles, you benefit from added comfort. Jan’s thimbles have an open nail, so that your fingernail shows through a large opening in the side of the thimble.
When to Use an Open Nail Thimble
Jan’s thimbles are solid sterling silver. They are usually worn on the middle finger. But some avid quilters wear one on the thumb (for going backward with the needle) or on the ring finger (which is more straight on toward the needle). Since it is a foreign object that you work with while stitching, it may take some time/practice to learn. Remember that it is a tool, and that tools are helpful when used correctly.
So, it is vital that you start to use it when beginning to learn needlework. Experienced quilters and tailors say that stitching with a thimble comes naturally to them. This is because they started to use the tool when they started to learn to hand sew.
There are many styles of thimbles: open nail thimbles, closed-top thimble, Yubi band thimbles, or tapered tailor thimbles. Many thimbles are tapered to suit the shape of human fingers, but short band (Yubinuki) thimbles are flat, round bands that are not tapered.
What Is an Open Nail Thimble?
A closed-top thimble covers the fingertip fully, while an open nail thimble is open to show off your fingernail. It is extremely comfortable if you have long fingernails. It facilitates air movement, and your finger doesn’t feel suffocated or sweaty from being covered for extended periods of sewing or quilting.
Most designs of open nail style thimbles are metal but may accompany a leather or rubber-like material so that the thimble doesn’t slip on your finger. These manufactured thimbles are not fitted to your finger, but rather they are made in only 3 sizes. Jan makes thimbles that fit. They come in every size from 0.5 to 14 and many shapes.
The sterling silver thimble looks more like jewelry than just a practical piece of equipment. It is fitted to your finger. Many quilters have one size for summer (when you are a bit larger because of heat and humidity) and winter (when you are a bit smaller because of cold and dry). Fitted thimbles do not slip on your finger or let the needle slip while stitching.
An open thimble leaves ample space for long nails without feeling cramped and looks flattering. You can also avoid unpleasant levels of perspiration that impact your work.
It has a solid back (with dimples) that stops near your knuckle. It goes all the way over the top, covering the fingertip. The pad has a dotted surface to catch the needle snugly, and the lip at the top keeps you from sticking the needle up under the nail, while applying additional pressure on the needle when you are working on tough bits of fabric.
Finding the Right Open Nail Thimble for You
By now, you may understand that the right size matters when it comes to open nail thimbles. A proper fit ensures that you use the needle faster and minimize stress on your finger. You will also find that you produce more accurate stitches and high-quality output.
In contrast, an ill-fitting thimble slips around on your finger. It grips the needle poorly and you lose quality in your stitch length and placement. You may feel like you have to start learning to hand stitch all over again, but with a well fitted thimble, it is the beginning of something much more comfortable than you have done. If the thimble feels like it is falling off, your thumb usually comes to the rescue. If it is too tight, your hand may just think of the thimble as a splint and refuse to use it.
The best way to find the right size thimble is to take precise measurements. Look honestly at your thimble finger, and analyze the shape: round or oval? Square or triangle? Is your knuckle larger than the rest of your finger? Is your fingernail flat or curved?
If you are buying thimbles online, use Jan’s acrylic ring sizer. Or, take a narrow strip of paper, wrap it around the base of your nail and measure it. Likewise, do another sizing near the knuckle. Measurements should be to the tenth of a millimeter. These numbers are compared to a chart of American Ring Sizes. Thimbles are sized by the inside of the lowest part of the thimble that goes all the way around.
Some people use the middle finger for stitching and quilting, but they use the pointer finger for embroidery. In comparison, others use their thumbs for all these things. Jan has thimbles to fit every finger and every size.
If you use your index finger or the thumb, make sure the piece fits you right. Also, consider the motion – whether you push the needle with the side or end of the finger.
How to Know If It Is a Good Fit?
You have bought the thimble and tried it on but are not sure if it fits properly?
Then check if the thimble stays still even when the fingers are facing down. If it is too big a size, it will slide around or even fall to the floor. If it is too tight you will feel your pulse inside the thimble. Sit quietly and listen to your body.
Most sellers also can also personalize the open nail style thimbles to conform to your finger’s contours. So, before purchasing, call them with your special request. If you already have thimbles that need repairing, contact Jan for fitting and repair help. This will make your sewing time stress and pain-free.