Sunday, August 1, 2010

First Things First

First - here are the winners of the Moda lunch box/sewing kit and Clermont Farms pre-cuts and some other stuff.

The winner of the lunch pail is - Donna! She said.... "What a fabulous idea! You are so creative!

A winner of some Clermont Farms pre-cuts and a surprise is... Sinta Renee

The last winner of a Clermont Farms pre-cut is Laura T

All you winners email me here and I will get your gifts out to you shortly.
It's been heartening to hear all the comments about hand quilting, and that some of you want to start to hand quilt. While I'll never give up the option of giving some quilts over to my long arm quilter Kari, there will always be a quilt that I need to hand quilt. Here I will offer some of my opinions on other hand quilting tools. These are just opinions.

Now that I have mentioned the hoop, the other two problems for beginning quilters is the thimble and the batting. (I think I will talk about battings and basting in a future post)
There are misconceptions about thimbles too. While a thimble is very helpful in pushing the needle through the layers of fabric and batting, it isn't it's only use. More important, if you use a thimble correctly (like the woman in the video does on the post from a few days ago).... you will be able to control your needle with only one finger. This allows you to master the mechanics of the quilting stitch. Pinching the needle in two fingers (which you do in almost all other stitching) will make very slow, frustrating work. The object is to direct the needle with your thimble-clad finger tip. This is a skill you can learn and will learn after practicing. IF you have a proper thimble. A proper thimble is a thimble that can grab the end of your needle (the eye). This is either a thimble that has deep indentations or a thimble with a malleable surface like a leather thimble or a silicone thimble. What doesn't work is the thin, shiny thimbles found in chain stores and discount stores that retail for a dollar or two. They are too slippery and the indentations are not deep.

The leather thimble that the woman in the video uses is a thimble that many quilters use. It works great - if it works for you. I kept wearing holes in them too fast. The surprise of a needle punching through to my finger is not one I wanted to keep experiencing. Others don't have that problem. It does grab the end of your needle quite well and lets you bring the needle up perpendicular to the quilt. Try it - it might work for you.

I like a metal thimble. I have tried many and I love, (and I'm not alone) a Roxanne's thimble. A Roxanne's thimble is made either of silver or gold and comes in many sizes. Once sized correctly, you will have a snug, yet comfortable thimble. It has deep indentations to grab your needle. If you happen to have long fingernails it is open to accommodate that too. Another plus is that it is designed for you to push the needle with the finger pad instead of the end of your finger. Ergonomically, this is much less distressing for your fingers over the long run.You can find Roxanne thimbles at many quilt shops or online shops. Because it is silver or gold, it is a bit of an expense. Another option that you might like to try is the new silicone courtesy of

These thimbles are comfortable and very cheap. They grab the end of your needle quite well. It's a great option for a beginning quilter. You should be able to find these at many quilt shops also.

As for that rubber thing on my index finger in this picture....
That's a finger cot. I will caution you that if you are starting out - it's probably enough to have a thimble on your hand, let alone a finger cot too. I wear it because I pick up the needle after I have made the quilting stitch - with my index finger and it allows me to grip it a lot better. Several years ago, when I quit my real job and started making quilts full time - I found myself hand quilting on commission. I hand quilted anywhere from 6-10 hours a day. I got tendinitis. What did it was the pinching motion of picking the needle back up from the quilting stitch. The finger cot allows you to just sort of drag your index finger over the needle to pick it up instead of pinching it. For most quilter's this isn't an issue. Because I quilt so much - it became an issue. It isn't anymore. I haven't had a twinge since I started using the finger cots. It does look dorky though. Also, if you are sitting and stitching for that long - get up and move. It's good for what ails you.

Well. that's about enough of my take on thimbles. I'll post more info in the upcoming weeks. Thanks for reading.



Anonymous said...

Congratulations to all the winners!
You are so right about thimbles. Having the right one makes all the difference.
I hope you are having a good summer!
~Joyce in MI

Kim said...

Oh good! I was going to ask you about basting, but will wait for your post on the topic!

Bev said...

Congrats to the winners! We have a blog giveaway for Bar Harbor fabric! It is fabric that I'm using to make an "Ode to England" quilt with little Union Jack blocks I designed using your fabric. I just love your fabric!

Cheery wave from

2ndAvenueStudio-Rachel said...

IM in love with Comfort thimble its grey plastic... slanted its awesome...

SheilaS said...

Thanks Laurie-I really enjoyed that lesson. While I do love my leather thimble I will look for the Roxanne one also. I think I would like that with the more fitted, back out version which is probably why I hadn't liked the standard metal ones that I usually see-they never seemed to fit right. I am looking forward to more hand quilting lessons and am keeping them all together in a special folder!

ritad said...

Thanks again for this great information. Can't wait for your next lesson.

Sharon said...

Congrats to the winners, Great post, I use all of the same tools, with the exception of the hoop. I learned to quilt without one, I've tried a variety of hoops and just haven't persevered long enough to master the hoop.

S. said...

Thank you for the delightful give away contest. Your information on hoops and thimbles is a good read.I appreciate the time and efforts you took in sharing this info with your readers. Perfect stitches!

Sinta Renee said...

Oh how fabulous! I have been sick with a migraine and just coming back to life... to find out that I am a winner!!! Yeah! thanks so much!
sinta renee

Janet said...

So far I haven't managed to learn to use a thimble and doubt I ever will, but I am blessed with very tough fingernails and use the underside of my index finger to push the needle through - works for me!
The advice to get up and move is great - saves a lot of stiffness and aches and pains.

Sandra Henderson said...

Hi Laurie!~Great posts! I've been busy with my grandbaby... I love my sterling thimble! I bought it from someone who use to be the thimble lady, but has changed her name since that name is now trademarked by someone else, at a quilt show. I LOVE it! It has made ALL the difference in having a fitted thimble! Plus, I like the way the opening lets your finger breathe...
I'll have to find those finger cots. I use tiny pliers sometimes. Rough on your needles! said...

You have published a great post over here; I'm hoping that you'll continue keeping up the excellent work! Just for your followers:) Looking forward to hearing from you soon, guys! By the way, you can always meet me at the high school and university writing scholarships.

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