Hand Quilting and Thimbles

mini-quilt-1I started some hand quilting this summer, but it ended up in a bag in a corner after we arrived in New York.  After my mom’s post on hand quilting, I thought it was about time to dig it out and finish it. I would love to hand quilt a larger quilt {maybe lap size?}, but feel I need more practice first.  When I saw this print, it seemed like the perfect place to start.


The more I worked on it, the more comfortable I felt with my quilting.  I used an embroidery needle because I was using Pearle cotton thread, but I may try something different next time {perhaps an Aurifil 12wt and a quilting needle?}.  I think I need a hoop/frame too…


My stitches were much less even on the back {I know it’s hard to see!}, but I think that will come with practice too.  I have been reading {and re-reading} Anna Maria Horner’s tutorial here and her Q&A here.  One thing I definitely needed was a good thimble.  I saw Rachel of Stitched in Color’s mention of these sticky thimbles, so I decided to give them a try.

I cut one of these Thimble-It stickies in half and stuck them to my first and middle fingers.  They worked well as far as keeping my fingers comfortable, but the edges stuck to my thread a little bit {I wonder if I need to trim them down a bit as I have small fingers}.


I will continue to give these a try, but would love some other suggestions/ideas, if you have a thimble you really love!  I’m thinking maybe the leather sticky ones?

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a mom, sewer, quilter, and lover of all kinds of pretty fabric and handbags!


  1. KAY says

    I have not seen sticky thimbles before. I do have to admit to really not liking thimbles at all and never use one with my hand sewing. I would certainly use a hoop to keep the fabric taught and also out of the way a bit too. I also find that my stitches look better on the front every time!

  2. Sigi G says

    I’ve never liked thimbles and can’t seem to keep them on my fingers, but when I am binding a quilt I really get sore fingers , so at my husband’s suggestion I tried my thin disposable gloves (that I use when gardening). They work beautifully for me – and also save the thread getting caught when my fingers get rough and chapped in the winter. I usually buy these gloves at the pharmacy as I like the Powder-Free ones (they come in different sizes too – I like them small enough so they don’t slip around on my hands). Sounds unbelievable – I know – I thought so too at first, but this was the best solution for myself.

  3. says

    Those sticky thimbles are actually for the underside hand when hand quilting; needle hand for other lightweight sewing. Try the leather sticky ones on your top hand and see what you think. As for the slide over the finger kind – whether metal or leather or plastic or rubber or whatever – you don’t want it to slide off your finger when you point your hand down to the ground. Then wear it all over – while cleaning house, folding clothes, reading a book. Just wear it and get used to the feel of it. Then try quilting – it will be better if you’re used to something on your finger already.
    marcella recently posted..PutteringMy Profile

  4. says

    It looks great to me, remember, the only person who is going to scrutinise the quilting, especially on the back, is you! I’ve never found a thimble that I get on with. I’ve got a couple that are like traditional thimbles, but made from silicone, so they are a lot more flexible. I find that if I put it on a finger, I use a different finger to stitch with! You don’t have to quilt with a quilting needle, I think they’re just more heavy duty, make sure the eye isn’t too big that your thread keeps slipping out, or too thin that it’s fraying the thread as you stitch – the purpose of the needle is to open the fabrics up enough to let the thread pass through. Don’t worry about the label on the needle, just go for one with the right sized eye. if you’re doing the “rocking” quilting motion, go for a longer needle. Oh, and a hoop or frame will DEFINITELY help.
    wendy recently posted..Craft Book Review – Spring on my wristMy Profile

  5. says

    im just embarking on hand quilting too! i like the above comment about wearing the thimble all over to get used to the feel of it…ive used thimbel-its before, but find i often push the needle right thru them…makes sense that they might be for underside of the quilt finger only…im thinking of trying Clovers open finger thimble…its the one i found most recommended. maybe maybe leather sticky might be nice? so many options!! i just bought some 12wt thread to try with my perle 8…i plan to use both maybe load up 4 or 5 needles and just use whichever i pick up? im excited to start…need to decide on what pattern to quilt.
    jenny recently posted..Pillow PocketMy Profile

  6. Elizabeth Bolton says

    That Perfect Stitch: The Secrets of Fine Hand Quilting, by Roxanne McElroy, is the best book I’ve come across for explaining and demonstrating hand quilting. Any of the “old-timers” give excellent advice/help also: Jinny Beyer, Georgia Bonesteele, to name a couple. I only handquilt, started out using a hoop, but now use nothing beyond good basting, and have improved over the years of practice, though I am certainly not fast! You must use a quilting needle called a between – either a 10 or 11 size – in order to do the rocking stitch which ultimately gives you even stitches and speeds up the quilting. Also – someone mentions using a hoop to keep the quilt taut, but that ISN’T what you want – it’s not like with embroidery. You need give in the tension – the books will show you!!
    Yes, the stick-on doo-dad is for your underneath hand, but I find it gets in the way more than it helps as you need to be able to feel that needle just as it comes through to the back because that is when you then “rock” the needle to bring it back to the top.
    It is much harder to explain how to handquilt than to demonstrate, but I strongly suggest you check out Roxanne’s book (she also sells a deluxe thimble which really fits and REALLY works well – I’ve used all kinds of thimbles: leather, plastic, flat-top, etc. -and hers works the very best). Sorry for this long post! Hand-quilting gives a much softer, more flexible quilt than machine quilting, which is one of the many reasons I am a fan of handquilting!

  7. says

    I use a leather thimble, have tried them all but I love them the best. They mold to the shape of your finger and feel very natural

  8. says

    It hurts like the dickens when the leather thimble wears out and the eye of the needle pokes through and into your unsuspecting finger. There are a couple of metal open thimbles out there that allow for fingernails to be a bit longer. Struggle through with a metal one until you get the hang of it. You will be glad you did. I have tried them all and now use one that was my grandmother’s.
    Capi Cohen recently posted..Swap Project FinishedMy Profile

  9. Pam says

    After deciding to try hand quilting a year or so ago, I researched every method and tried every thimble on the market. I tried quilting with a hoop and without a hoop. What works for each person seems to be as individual as the person herself. I finally settled on the thimble and technique taught by The Thimblelady. http://www.thimblelady.com She has a thimble with deeper dimples and a method that doesn’t prick your underneath finger. I’m finally satisfied with my results, even though I need more practice before I’ll be winning any blue ribbons at the county fair. My advice is to keep trying methods and products and eventually one will feel natural to you.

  10. says

    I can’t sew unless I have my thimble, I used a solid silver one as silver doesn’t make you finger smell of metal like the brass ones do. It stays lovely and shiney with use. If you get one to fit properly, it will stay on, wet your finger slightly if it starts to fall off. Good luck with the hand quilting.
    Sharon Gibson recently posted..Rainy Day Singer Featherweight MakesMy Profile

  11. says

    I was never a thimble user until a few years ago when an older lady was showing me how to really make the thimble work for me. It was so useful. Since then, I have found that the thimble I love the most (I own 3 or 4 now) is the Leather “Nimble” Thimbles With Metal Tip. Joann sells them. It fits comfortably, doesn’t get too hot and have a metal tip that helps in the tight spots. I hope this might help you. Good Luck!

  12. says

    Your hand quilting looks great. i use the sticky thimbles too and have the same problem with the thread. I just found some that are leather. Thought I would give them a try. They are round and a little smaller.

  13. Sarah says

    Band aids placed with the padded bits where you put the sticky pads are as good as thimbles. Just a tip to try and probably a lot cheaper than trying all different thimbles. The novelty print is so cute, and so suited to being hand quilted.

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