History of the thimble

09/10/2021

A thimble is an instrument used in sewing that serves to push the needle when a stitch is made. It is a tiny utensil, one of the most curious and indispensable for all fashion designers and seamstresses in the world. 

The thimble is a small cup that is inserted into one of the fingers of the hand, usually in the middle or ring finger, and is used to put pressure on the needle in the sewing process. The thimble is made of rigid materials such as metal, which allows you to push the needle without sticking your finger. For ease of operation, it is covered with notches across its entire surface to support the needle safely without slipping. The male thimble is conical and hollow, it is open at both ends and its interior is smooth. The female thimble is conical and hollow but it is closed in its narrowest part, internally it is smooth, both externally have small indentations. 

The thimble is a very ancient instrument that has been found in Egyptian tombs. At that time the thimbles were made of leather and were used by Egyptian queens, very skilled in the art of sewing and embroidery. Thimbles made of bone, bronze or ivory have also been found in different European countries. 

In the 16th century, the thimbles made in Nuremberg, which were sold in the surrounding countries, were popular. Also very famous were the Spanish Arab thimbles, made of bronze, in cylindrical shape. In the 18th century, the thimble was a luxurious gift that young men of the nobility gave their girlfriends. 

Thimbles are also gift and collector's items. These are artistic thimbles, made of ceramics, which are printed with the name or the typical image of a certain locality and which are sold in souvenir shops. 

Historical thimbles characteristic of their place of origin are also collected depending on the material or the type of manufacture. Possessing the widest possible variety of these small and useful objects became a true passion, so much so that the royal houses of the time competed in the acquisition of the most attractive and curious pieces. Large sums were paid for the rarest pieces. 

The most important collections of thimbles can be found in the National Archaeological Museum and in the Marés museum in Barcelona.