Thimbles Part II – My Favorite Thimbles

Jinny's Thimble CollectionA few weeks ago, my blog focused on choosing a thimble. I had planned to do a follow-up the following week but other topics captured my attention.  Let me talk about, finally, my favorite thimbles.

I’ve used a variety of thimbles over the years.  I used to use one type for quilting and another for piecing but now use the same for both.  My favorites are sterling silver thimbles by Tommie Jane Lane which provide air circulation and accommodate long fingernails.

TJ ThimbleTJ Lane makes exquisite handmade thimbles which are little works of art.  For me, the rims on her thimbles are the perfect midpoint between too straight and too round which makes it just right for both quilting and piecing. They don’t have a rolled edge which will dig into my adjacent finger. The “dimples” go all the way down to the bottom and they are just the right weight without being bulky.

Tommie Jane’s thimbles and sewing tools are made from sterling silver or 18K gold sometimes in combination with special steel components such as needle threader wires, cutter blades and stilettos.  While sterling silver is soft and with much use will show wear, TJ does a wonderful job repairing her work, for just the cost of shipping, making it look like new.

If you have been in any of my classes or been into the Studio, you will notice that many of us wear our thimbles and sewing tools as jewelry. Did you know that in the nineteen century it was common to give a thimble instead of an engagement ring? While none of ours were given as betrothal gifts, they are beautiful and can be worn hanging from chatelaines.

Chatelaine-1I am a digitabulist which means I collect thimbles. (It sounds a little scary but is a wonderful trivia question.) I’ve collected antique thimbles for years and often use them.  I am especially fond of Dorcus thimbles. They were created by Charles Horner in 1884 to solve the problem of steel needles piercing soft silver thimbles. Horner used a steel core covered by silver inside and out. The result was a thimble as pretty as the traditional silver thimble but more durable.

Thimble1As I look at my antique thimbles, I love to think of the many quilters and sewers who collected and cherished them before me.  However, for the most part, generations of quilters made do with simple, inexpensive supplies yet created wonderful works of art with them.

clover-opensided-1While sterling silver and antique thimbles can be costly, there are also many good, very affordable ones on the market.  Clover makes a very nice open-sided adjustable thimble with a comfortable smooth edge and is made of brass.

As I have said before, what is most important is to find the one which is just right for you.

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7 comments

  1. Sandy

    I also invested in a TJ Lane and it improved my hand quilting.

  2. Ruth Sunday

    I haven’t as many thimbles as are indicated in your collection. And, one of my favorites, I gave away. It was my grandmother’s silver thimble. No one in my family was interested and it was too small even for my little finger. So I passed it to a quilter friend with tiny hands, a love for hand work and a wonderful thimble collection.

    For use, I have two favorites: one is a silver plated thimble with an open back. The designer’s niece is now selling colored aluminum ones. This is my overall favorite, except for fit. With weight loss/gain and heat/cold changing the size of my fingers, sometimes this thimble will not stay on my finger. Then I resort to the Clover one with the ridged metal crown and the rubber finger fit.

  3. Barb S in Texas

    I, too am a thimble collector, although of the more common variety. I have a couple silver , a few plastic advertising, a few brass and my most treasured one that was made for a child with the words”good girl” on it. The thrill of the hunt is a great part of my delight. Thanks for sharing your collection with all of us.

  4. Ann, Ann's Pin Cushion

    I agree as I have been selling TJ’s thimbles for 15 years. When I am vending at a quilt show, my past customers praise TJ’s thimbles and frequently encourage new customers to purchase one of her thimbles. Thimbles are like a good pair of shoes. They must fit. TJ has such a large variety of styles and sizes.

  5. Fran Rasweiler

    I have my grandmother’s engagement thimble with initials CJC to ABC. Alice Bridget Connolly. I am so proud that it was left to me.

  6. Deborah Mackes

    I inherited a large thimble collection and would like to know if you know of anyone who would be interested in purchasing this collection.

    My collection includes items such as:

    50 Wooden State thimbles with the state’s bird on one side and the state flower on the other side
    12 thimbles with a birthstone on each representing each month of the year
    Several thimbles representing England’s Royal Family
    14 English Cottage thimbles
    A small collection of pewter thimbles with a moveable part on each
    Many, many others

    • Our suggestion is to offer this on Ebay. People have had a lot of success selling their collections through them.

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