Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Back to Thimbles and… uh…. Finger Gloves


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A month ago today, I wrote about Thimbles. But don’t worry – on the Ides of every month, I don’t plan on writing about thimbles! What I really enjoyed about the post was the reader input on the question of thimbles. There were over 100 comments on that post, and so many of them were good suggestions, good stories, and good information about thimbles and finger protection when stitching. It was so enjoyable reading them!

There is a certain attraction to the thimble, no doubt. Do you suppose the thimble is a kind of “symbol,” in a way? (“Thimble Symbol” – eesh, what a rhyme!) But really, we collect them, we embellish them, we make houses for them – they are precious, and they’ve certainly been a valued tool to generations of needleworkers. Take, for example, the latest issue (and many, many past issues!) of Sampler and Antique Needlework Quarterly. In the latest issue, there are some of the most elaborate thimble holders that I’ve ever seen! What effort people have gone to, to protect and house their thimbles! It’s really amazing!

And that brings me – with some trepidation – to today’s topic: the Finger Glove!

Finger Gloves instead of Thimbles

In Humanity’s Quest for Comfort and Disposable Convenience, the Finger Glove is bound to take some kind of seat in history. But I don’t think it’s going to be quite the same “noble” seat that the thimble has had over the years!

Finger Gloves instead of Thimbles

There’s nothing attractive about the Finger Glove. Finger Gloves are finger-sized pieces of thick, nubby latex that fit over the individual fingers, in order to protect them from the needle and also to provide grip.

Finger Gloves instead of Thimbles

On first trying them out, you might think – like I did (and do still) – that they are a bit weird feeling. They are! I’ve never liked latex gloves, and having individual fingers coated with really thick latex is not exactly my cup o’ tea.

BUT – they seem to be pretty darned handy when stitching, especially when stitching in tough spots. I’m sure we’ve all experienced those stitching moments when it’s tough to get the needle through the fabric. Sinking goldwork threads comes to mind, as does stitching through kid leather – or just getting the needle through a place where too many stitches are built up on the front and back of the fabric!

Unlike its noble and time-tested counterpart, the Finger Glove is not really meant to be beautiful. And it’s not meant to be treasured and kept and decorated and housed. It’s pretty much disposable. I don’t think too many of us are going to embroider a little etui or carve a bone box in which to house a bit of latex. The one thing the Finger Glove is, is serviceable.

Finger Gloves are probably more common to quilters than they are to embroiderers. I’ve seen them in multiple quilt shops, but I’ve yet to see them in too may needlework shops (though some do carry them – like Nordic Needle, where they are on sale right now for $3.99).

Now that I have a few of them (I picked up a pack at a quilt shop last weekend, just out of curiosity!), I do plan on keeping a few in my tool box, for those Tough Needling Moments. I toyed with the idea of getting used to stitching with them on a more permanent basis, but after a few stitches – when I really didn’t need any thimble-like help – I gave up on that plan. While I certainly would love to have a second hand, I don’t really relish having a second skin on my hand.

But I do have to admit: as odd-looking and odd-feeling as they are, they sure are serviceable.

So what do you reckon? Do you think 21st Century stitchers are going to devise artistic cases and coverings for their latex Finger Gloves? Or do you think we’re more prone to continue to treasure the thimble?! I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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(41) Comments

  1. I was first introduced to these by Carolyn Walker (of Madiera embroidery fame in the 80’s) — she passed them out in class. Because of their suggestive appearance (!), someone in class said we were practicing “safe stitching.”

  2. I agree that these are not pretty and I won’t be making a nice case for them. However, I did buy a pack for my mother, who has arthritis. She says that the extra grip really helps her pull the needle through the fabric, and allows her to work on her needlepoint for longer amounts of time. Although I don’t like the disposal aspect either, they can be reused for quite a while before tearing and the plastic surface definitely provides an extra grip that a metal or even leather thimble can’t.

  3. I have many friends who quilt and tried some of their finger gloves. I didn’t like them because they didn’t fit and they felt “sweaty”, so I went back to my little stick-on-your-finger suede dots, which are great. Except, of course, if you are using a fiber like silk that will “catch” on the suede. For those times, I use a flexible, thin, smooth leather quilter’s thimble that has an elastic back and, while big, will stay on.

  4. I have used these finger gloves to protect my
    splitting fingers. they fit over bandaids and
    make it possible to stitch . For me the preferred pushers and pullers are also available at quilting stores.
    They must have a name, but I don’t know it.
    They are small suede like circles and they are mighty strong and will
    pull needles through all sorts of challenges
    with grace and ease.

  5. I don’t know about stitching, but I can see picking some of those up for the office. They look a lot like the rubber finger covers that have been used by “paper pushers” for decades, but the length looks like they might actually stay on.

    I personally don’t often use a thimble, and when I do, I tend to use a leather quilter’s thimble — again, with longer length which makes it feel like it will stay on. When I use a “regular” thimble, I find myself using a different finger to push.

    I do however, HAVE several thimbles, including my grandmother’s gold thimble and a reproduction medieval ring thimble.

  6. Hi Mary — I don’t like using a thimble either. I had not thought about using the Finger Gloves before. BTW, you can find them in large drugstores as ‘Finger Cots’. Online I found Finger Cots for as little as $3 for 144. What I use when I need some protection is a small piece of duct tape. I started using duct tape to protect my skin on my feet to prevent blisters the first time I did the Breast Cancer 3 Day walk. I find that my thumb gets very sore when I attend the annual Brazilian Embroidery Seminar and take classes for five days straight. A small piece of duct tape takes care of that (and can save a manicure as the tape doesn’t have to go over my nail). I made a small duct tape roll for my stitching kit by winding the duct tape around a small piece of plastic. You can get duct tape in so many colors now. We use superglue in our household too, but our universal product is duct tape.

  7. Hi Mary, I’ve used finger cots for years when having trouble pulling stubborn needles through fabric, or when my fingers are rough. Serve the same purpose. If I do not have a finger cot, I cut the finger tips out of latex gloves and use them…less inexpensive and serve the same purpose. I love using them and always carry them with me. I’m glad you use them too. Very versitile product! Thanks much for your article. Keep up your great, informative work!

  8. I tried them on my thumb which was having a bad winter dryness problem and couldn’t get used to them. And, I kept poking a hole in the tip. Once they’ve got a hole in them, they’re not much use. I use a thimble while quilting and decided to try it while doing embroidery. I find I don’t put so much pressure on my thumb anymore.

  9. These look great. Not only for stitching but for my Mom. She’s had one of those rubber fingertip things for paper flipping but it wore out. Now she can’t find a new one. This would be good since it has a couple different sizes. I’d use some for quilting. Good to know they can be found at quilting stores. Now if there was some way to protect my arthritic finger joints as well.

    Years ago I worked at a place that made electronic gadgets. We wore “finger cots” to protect the boards. Very thin latex finger tips similar to these finger gloves.

  10. Mary,

    i live with men and have no sisters. When I think of finger gloves, stitching does not come to mind. I think I’ll keep my thimble and let others use the finger glove. I would have never thought of using this because I would think the needle would go through it from the eye side.

  11. These have been around for ever! But they’ve been hiding in the office supply stores & called something like ‘thumb rubbers’.

    I’ve been using them for 40 years – ever since I started using them to sort mail at the Post Office!!

    BTW – check the price in the office supply store – they may be cheaper!

  12. Clover sells something similar. Smaller, fitting more just to the bottom of the nail. They’re perforated to allow your fingernail to escape if needed. They come in a pack of two and are blue and are sold in quilting aisles and shops. I like them a lot. I find them unobtrusive and they fit on any finger and stay put. I’ve used them on underside fingers to avoid pricking and on pushing fingers. They’re a little light for some pushing tasks.

    I also found that after a few weeks of use they got “sticky.” I washed and dried them and it helped a bit–they still work, but feel a bit tacky (which is good or bad depending on what I’m doing).

  13. I do not like thimbles, I find them more trouble than they’re worth. I say whatever works for you is the very best to use and find it hard to get sentimental over replacing a thimble with something new. But, then again, I don’t hold a ceremony for my broken needles either. I know, I’m a little too cynical!? My saving grace is that I do get sentimental over seeing beautiful stitchery of any kind, using whatever tools get you to that end.

  14. I only use a thimble if I am working on very thick fabric or with a very fine needle. If I have trouble pulling the thread through as with sinking threads in goldwork I find a needle grabber the best to use. They are available anywhere and take up no space in your workbox
    Susan (in UK)

  15. I normally use one of the semi-disposable leather and plastic ring thimbles from Clover. The place on my finger where needles bother me is a good bit lower than most thimbles cover. The ring thimble can be pushed down to where I really need it. At other times, when the bother from the needle is incidental and I don’t really need to push it hard, I just use a bandaid.

    I’m not familiar with this particular brand, but IME finger cots catch on the needle, do nothing to protect you when you really need to push, and get visibly and palpably gross after a bit of use. I used to do a lot of hand quilting, and the thing that finger cots are good for is getting a grip on the needle to pull it out of the work after putting in a tight needle-load of quilting stitches. They (Clover again, I think) also sell little rounds of (much thicker) rubber that you just pick up right before you grab the needle. (That’s less awkward than it sounds.) You can also use a scrap cut out of an old dishwashing glove. I think finger cots are also sometimes used as grippers for free-motion machine quilting.

  16. I’m thinking of giving them a try. I tend to make my thumb and first finger on my right hand sore if a work on a project too long. I must have some kind of monster grip on the needle. I’m thinking it might help.

  17. Some people are allergic to latex … so be aware of that before purchasing/using the finger gloves.

    Pushing a needle with a piece of latex could also be a problem — should the needle head pierce the ‘glove’ as well as your finger. The head is, after all, a thin piece of metal.

    I was taught to use a thimble but never did enough stitching to get used to using one. I have a few, including a couple of thimble holders.

  18. I use duct tape. Only when I’ve been at it for hours and my fingers are really sore. Then I find that my other fingers take over and I still don’t really “use” it.

  19. I use these in My Other Life – knitting. I enjoy lace knitting and sock knitting, especially on very small needles. I find that prolonged sessions can poke a little hole in my left middle finger from repeated contact with the sharp end of a US 000 or finer needle. These finger cots are very helpful in avoiding knitting-related bloodshed. I tend not to use them for embroidery though. I don’t do enough self damage while stitching to warrant their use.

  20. As far as treasures are concerned, I am voting for the thimble without a second thought (although I am not a collector of thimbles).
    As to fingergloves, I have a question: Wouldn’t they be useful for guiding the fabric when doing free motion stitching on the sewing machine?

  21. Ciao, io non uso il ditale e neanche faccio collezione, ma mi piace vederli e custoditi nei negozi o nei blog, in giro. Quando mi viene il buco nel dito, allora lo uso ma poco oppure metto un cerotto per uno-due giorni. Ma è sempre interessante leggerti perchè di questi in lattice non sapevo esistessero. Ma sono in commercio proprio per le ricamatrici?

  22. @Marny…yes indeed you need to be careful…I’m allergic to latex so these wouldn’t be something I’d buy…but if they made them in plastic I might give them a try. I’ve never been comfortable using a thimble and my fingers have suffered the consequences more than I like to admit.

  23. I have a Roxanne thimble. It is gold plated, open at both ends, very sturdy and cost more than $50.00. I am told they need to be fitted by a person who has “been certified” – had a lesson from a Roxanne rep I guess.

    I had never used a thimble before but I love this one. It fits snuggly and has a pusher ledge at the top. Really can’t explain without a picture.

    Since I have taken up needle painting I need a thimble because those number 10 crewel needles wear a hole in my finger.

    Roxanne also makes wonderful long basting needles and a great fabric glue.

    Elaine in New Mexico

  24. Esto es novedoso,si me gustaria usarlos porque ya no siento las hebras entre mis dedos,tratare de conseguirlos,gracias MARIA.

  25. As per your recommendation, I have just ordered a pack of the latex “thimbles”. Hoping they work as my fingers are becomingsomewhat dented. Great website Nordic, also bought a few other items. Many thanks for your great newsletter.

  26. Hello Mary! I’m Carmel Stover, the inventor of the Finger Gloves… what a JOY it was to find this post! I originally created the Finger Gloves for hot gluing as I couldn’t stand getting another 3rd degree burn, and after our first Hobby Industry trade show, it was the Needle Arts community that completely embraced our Finger Gloves! You ladies are tough, but your fingers need some TLC! The Finger Gloves were made to be reusable (not disposable and thin like a “finger cot” mentioned by Pat). We say, “Use ’em until you lose ’em.” There is definitely what we call a “Giggle Factor” involved, and trust me, I’ve heard every joke out there (and still giggle myself), but like clockwork, I would hear the giggle first, then the “Oooohhh” after it was put on the finger and used. Finger Cots (like you can buy at the drug-store) are a thickness of 2 mil, our Finger Gloves are 13 mil and designed to fit like a second skin and can be trimmed shorter to what ever is most comfortable. They are made to withstand high temp. hot glue or an iron when pressing seams. A finger cot just can’t do this. We would LOVE you dear readers to try the Finger Gloves at a 10% DISCOUNT (with a FULL satisfaction guarantee – including shipping costs)… Just go to http://www.FingerGloves.com and use the coupon code “MARYCORBETBIG10” during checkout. WOW are we honored… thank you for seeing the potential. We have heard from so many woman who our Finger Gloves have assisted in creating the magnificent, heart-felt beauty that you all are creating. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. With deepest appreciation, Carmel Stover

  27. Hi Mary: Loved this info. article today-not sure I could wear the full gloves however the finger glove idea interested me. Imagine my dissapointment when I found (think) that these only come in Latex-I am severely allergic to that so if you do know of a site where they may be shown in non-Latex etc.-I would love to hear about that. Hope all is well with you

  28. I find the idea of these intriguing too and will probably buy some to try.

    But if you are having real difficulty pulling a needle through, try a pair of nylon-lined pliers. Designed to be used by beaders, these work a treat on needles and really help us poor old arthritics.

  29. Thank you for putting these on line. Although the link didn’t work, I still plan on buying them. Unlike most sew-ers, I’ve never been especially adapt at even sewing up rips (take them to the cleaners).

    However, I do embrodiery but sometimes my pain tolorence has been to low to endure multiple layers of cloth and stiches. It just takes so long to work these.

    I have never liked the metalic thimble because it only has one shape (I have little bitty hands) and going around corners and just pushing through something is difficult because I need them on both sides and trying to keep 2 on at once just doesn’t happen.

    Anyway, Thank You for your site. I’m marking it to go back and look (don’t have time today) and thanks for the latax solution.

  30. I have a quilt shop in my home.When I am piecing my quilts on my sewing machine the finger gloves are great for keeping the quilt pieces in place while I sew them. The best part is when I spend a week-2 weeks hand-quilting the finshed quilt top. I put finger gloves on my thumb and first finger. I work 9 hours a day in my shop and by the 2nd day for hand-quilting my fingers would be very sore from gripping the needle. With the finger gloves,the needle sticks to the glove with hardly any effort from me at all. Now I make sure not to run even close to out of finger gloves.

  31. Keep in mind, Finger gloves are not designed solely for stitching and sewing. They are for any task that requires an extra layer for strength or protection.

    I do a lot of hobbies and work that tears up the tips of my fingers. I could never use a Thimble for any of these tasks, because the work is too detailed. But the Finger Gloves work perfectly for protecting my fingers and preventing injury.

    I use them regularly and have never sewed or stitched in my life

  32. I am looking for finger gloves to use when bead weaving. I accidentally and deeply stabbed the palm of my forefinger just above the joint and below the finterip callous, which developed into a cyst that grows and grows, and must be surgically removed by a hand surgeon. Hopefully, the finger gloves will protect sufficiently against future needle assaults.
    Beading needles are longer than sewing needles, very sharp and thin.

  33. Knitting Use???

    Has anyone tried these for knitting? When I knit baby hats on 12″ circular needles, the side of my index finger gets very sore because of the tight circle and compression to hold the circular needle properly.
    I have been looking for something other than a padded bandaid.
    Thank you.

  34. Who cares what these products look like when they work as well as they do?! I’ve been searching for exactly this product to replace ones I had but haven’t found them in a retail store in this area of southwest Florida. The finger gloves are flexible and I find them very comfortable, much more so than any of the thimbles I’ve tried,including the “soft” ones. They grip a needle easily and provide protection from needle sticks as well. I’ll be looking for an online source of them!

  35. Hi, I find that I at times end up with holes in my fingertips from pushing the needle through. And of course once there is a hole there the needle finds it every time! I’ve tried a regular thimble, I have my grandmothers silver thimble in fact (no fancy home for it though) but I find it too stiff. So I’m curious about these. I don’t need the grip aspect… but I wonder if they actually protect the fingers from those pesky holes I keep managing to create in my pushing finger.

  36. I love embroidery but…… my hands go numb from time to time.
    I was thinking about picking some of these finger gloves or whatever they are cause it is quite bothersome having to stop every soften because I can’t feel the needle. Any advice that could help me would be great

  37. I am trying to find a solution for my problem which is that whilst I am embroidering, the silk thread catched onto my fingers. I have dry hands and the skin is leaving tiny minuscule loose skin. The silk thread entangled immediately and it is hard and time consuming to straighten the silk thread again. Do you think that these finger gloves are the solution or do you loose touch with the work?

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