This tutorial is for a ring thimble with plate. This type of thimble is often used for sashiko stitching, but can also be used for stitching temari or when stitching through thick or difficult fabric. The thimble is worn as a ring, but the plate that rests on the palm at the base of the finger is what pushes the needle. This allows greater force to be used than just the strength of fingers, making stitching easier.
You might wonder why anyone would want to make a ring thimble with plate when an adjustable metal or leather ones can be purchased inexpensively? Well, if you are like me, and allergic to various metals, then a metal one is not a good option. The leather ones are usually colored with dyes that often contain metal, so that is not a good option either for the same reason. Also, I find the soft plate of the leather still allows my palm to get sore.
I find my handmade thimbles to be much more comfortable than either the metal or the leather ones, which I did try. I even wrapped the metal one in fabric, to make it usable. But the time spent make that one useable could have been spent making a better one. These also have a slightly larger plate than the metal one, which I find easier to use.
Making your own thimble also allows you to have one with a custom fit size.
TOOLS, MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
The tools, materials and supplies you will need are in the picture above. They include:
- Scissors – for cutting thread and for cutting plastic and fabric
- Thread, general purpose – one to match felt color and one matching ribbon color
- Small needle– for stitching with the general purpose thread
- Large needle – for stitching with the perle cotton or embroidery thead
- Perle cotton thread (or embroidery thread)- color that coordinates with felt color
- Template plastic – or equivalent cut to 1/4″ wide by the circumference of your finger (where you would wear a ring) plus 1/2″
- 3/8″ grosgrain ribbon – one at 2 1/2″ long
- 3/8″ grosgrain ribbon – one at 2 times the length of the strip of template plastic plus 1/2″
- A pull ring seal from a milk or other carton – this one is from an almond milk or coconut milk container
- Felt – a small piece that is slightly longer than the plastic strip and a little wider than the width of plastic strip plus the width of the pull seal. A polyester felt was used for this project due to an allergy to wool.
PREPARING TO SEW
Cut the ring off the pull seal. Next, cut a sliver off the edge of the circle so that it includes the little nub where the ring was attached.
Align the long piece of ribbon just inside the long straight edge of the piece of felt and place the seal with the cut edge near (with a small gap between) the ribbon. With a pen, trace along ribbon and around pull seal. Next, cut just outside the marked line, being more generous around the seal.
STITCHING THE PARTS
With the leftover piece of felt, lay the pull seal on the fabric with a gap (about 3/16″ to 1/4″) between the cut edge of the circle and the edge of the felt. Trace the curved edge with a pen and then connect the line up to the edge of the felt. See picture above. Cut outside the marked line.
From the remaining felt piece, cut a small circle that just fits inside the concave side of pull seal. Baste in place with a couple stitches.
Place the pull seal convex side up on top of back of felt so it fits inside circular area. Stitch pull seal to felt so that the stitches are small random stitches on the concave felt side. See pictures above.
Trim felt around the pull seal so that it is even with edge of plastic.
Take the longer piece of ribbon and fold it in half so that a 1/2″ of one end extends beyond the other end. Starting at the fold end, whip stitch down one side, insert the strip of plastic and then stitch down the other side to enclose the plastic. Don’t cut the thread yet.
If the ribbon is stiff like the metallic grosgrain that is used here, then the plastic probably is not necessary, but is recommended for a softer ribbon such as a satin or non-metallic ribbon. The metallic was used for this project as it was what was on hand at the time.
Wrap the ribbon around the finger you would use it on. I find the ring finger, next to smallest, one works best for me. Wrap so that the folded end is underneath and the cut end on top. Mark the ribbon where the overlap starts. The thread tale shows where the folded end is under the other end. Don’t make the fit snug. You want to be able to slide it on and off easily.
I had to pin the ribbon in order to take a picture.
ASSEMBLING THE PARTS
Stitch the ring closed along both sides of the overlap. When you get to the cut end, fold it under and continue sewing across the fold, then down the other side.
Take the short piece of ribbon, fold it in half and slide over the overlapped section of the ribbon ring. Stitch it to the top of the seal. In the picture on the right, you can see where the felt has been flipped down to show stitches that go through the pull seal. Trim the ribbon.
This ribbon connector provides more support so the felt between the ring and the plate does not get stretched and worn.
There are little holes in the edge of the plastic because I forgot this step and had to unstitch the felt backing from the pull seal, attach the ring and restitch backing.
Baste backing in place.
Wrap felt strip ends around ribbon ring and trim so the ends just meet. Stitch ends together with thread that matches felt.
Using a buttonhole stitch, stitch around the plate, around the bottom edge of ring and the top edge of the ring.
Using a stab stitch, stitch across the space between the plate and bottom of the ring, then go back the other direction and with stab stitches, fill in the spaces. This stitches the plate backing to the felt and the ribbon connector.
Your custom made ring thimble with plate is ready to use.