Stitches & Seams, Tayloring

Taylor’s Thimble

Someday I want my garb to hang like a well made suit.”
– Posted by me on Facebook Feb. 5, 2017.

Thank you eBay. Stupid things that make me absurdly happy. 1600-1700 brass open top thimble

From Seventeenth-Century Women’s Dress Patterns(p. 9):

The tailor
Contemporary sources demonstrate that tailors needed relatively little equipment to set up a workroom. In his illustrated survey of heraldic devices, The Academy of Armory, Randle Holme states: “We come now to give some examples of Taylors Tools, or instruments of working: which in themselves are but few in number, though thereby most rich and costly Apparels are made: and being the fewer, the less fear there is of a Taylors breaking, for to be and unthrift and so run away he may, but break he cannot: for at the next Town he comes too, he is set up again if he have but Needle, Thimble, his Goose [a pressing iron] and Shears.’

The accompanying image indicates that the closed top thimble was used by “Sempstres” while the open top thimble was used by “Taylors”. “Sempstres” being the trade open to women that focused mainly on undergarments, hats and embroidery while outerwear was made by “Taylors” which was a mainly male occupation.

From Modern Maker Vol. 1: Men’s Doublets(p. 46):

Tailor’s Thimble: Traditionally, tailor’s thimbles are open-topped and are worn on the middle finger. Properly positioned on the middle finger, the tailor uses the thimble to push with the side of the finger, not the top. There is no need for a thimble with a top; in fact, a closed thimble can actually interfere with the finger sensitivity needed for tailoring.

From The Cutter and Tailor forum: Learning to Tailor by Self Tuition

Starting out

Your first hurdle, when starting out, is to hold and use your thimble properly. A simple enough thing you might think, it’s not for most people. This in itself will test your mettle in wanting to become a tailor, or at least learn tailoring methods to improve your home-sewing projects. Your thimble should be an open top thimble, to make sure it’s the right size you must place the thimble on the table, wide in up. Now place the middle finger of your sewing hand into the thimble. The tip of the finger should be able to touch the top of the table easily yet not fall off when you lift your hand.

These are also available for purchase from Lacis.  Tailor’s Thimble, Open Top, Heavy Brass 


Gnagy, Mathew. The Modern Maker Vol. 1: Men’s Doublets. Charleston SC: Printed by, 2014. Print.
Tiramani, Jenny, Claire Thorton, Luca Constigliolo, Armelle Lucas, and Susan North. Seventeenth-Century Women’s Dress Patterns Book One. London: V&A Publishing, 2011. Print.

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