Product Review: Clover Protect and Grip Thimble

June 28, 2011 at 9:34 pm 5 comments

It really shouldn’t surprise anyone that I’m somewhat of a notions nut. I certainly am a believer in having the right tool for the job; what I need to find, however, is the happy medium between, on the one extreme, being the person trying to use a nail file as a screwdriver, and on the other, being the person at whom all those “as seen on TV” product commercials are aimed. Heaven forbid one might attempt to apply lotion, flip a pancake, or answer the phone while under a blanket, without the newest labor-saving product! Thus is my dilemma framed: I want to try every sewing product that promises to make my limited quilting time more pleasant and successful. At the same time, I don’t want to fill my already crowded studio with the notions equivalent of the Pasta Boat. So I will attempt to document here my trials of some of the products that seemed worth the money.

My love of Clover products is only partially based on their beautiful ads in my beloved Japanese quilt magazines. It’s also based on the fact that they seem, on the balance, to be worth every penny of their relatively high price. They appear to work both ends of the notions spectrum equally well: everyday basics, such as their silk pins and easy-threading needles, display unerring quality and consistency that seems to be lacking in other commonly found brands, while innovative products, such as their yo-yo makers, thread cutter pendants, and fork pins, surprise us in the “I never knew I needed that!” vein. So when I saw that they had a flexible-sided but metal-capped thimble, I thought it might be worth a try.

Clover Protect & Grip Thimble

Clover Protect & Grip Thimble

Let me back up a bit. Thimbles are things I never really considered until a few years ago, because I’ve never been much for hand sewing. When I started quilting in my teens I wanted to do everything by machine out of impatience, and when I picked it back up about ten years ago, my other primary hobby was counted cross stitch. Therefore, I felt I already had a hobby for when I wanted to sit with a needle in my hand; quilting was for the machine. But I have mellowed in the last ten years. I’ve realized that not only does hand applique produce the results I like best, but there is a rhythm and a meditative beauty to the process as well. I’ve also had to face facts that there are times when only a hand-stitched binding will do. And as I’ve started to make more purses and other small quilted projects, I’ve had to get more comfortable with hand-finishing the details that a machine just can’t access. (I’m still not a hand quilter, though. Give me time.)

My favorite thimble

My favorite thimble

My favorite thimble, hands down, is my Roxanne thimble. I bought it at the hand-quilting class I took from Didi McElroy, so she fitted it for me personally, and I love it for being so well-designed. (I’ll never need the long manicured fingernail protector, though!) Being a dentist, I’m a stickler for ergonomics: if I develop degenerative musculoskeletal problems with my hands, I’m potentially out of work. Therefore, I’m very glad this was the first thimble I ever used regularly, so I didn’t have to unlearn any bad habits. The only problem with the Roxanne thimble is the cost: I think I paid $79 for mine in 2004, before all the metal prices skyrocketed; the same sterling silver model now sells for $110. Needless to say, as much as I love my thimble, I’m not buying one for upstairs and one for downstairs, or one for each project bag. If I’m going to be doing a great deal of hand sewing, I use my Roxanne thimble, which usually resides in the living room near the comfy TV-watching chair. But if I just have a little bit to do, I don’t want to have to leave the studio and fetch it, especially if Ronan’s in his doorway jumper. So I have experimented with alternatives, most of which have ended up in the drawer next to my sewing machine and will be donated to the next Guild Boutique.

The usual view from my sewing table

The usual view from my sewing table

Since I have a horror of pushing the eye of the needle into my finger (based on experience, not just imagination) I had never before tried any of the jelly thimbles, despite how pretty they look sitting in the glass display jars at quilt shops. But since this one had the metal cap, I was willing to give it a try at $8.95. Plus, it came in orange! The fit was excellent, especially as it warmed to body temperature; this didn’t surprise me, as the package had a helpful cutout at the top to check for sizing. The thimble was comfortable to wear and to use, with nice deep dimples in the metal cap to make controlling the needle easy.

Some of the downsides to using this thimble were, for me, just a result of being used to using the Roxanne thimble and thus trying to push the needle through with the pad of my finger rather than the tip. But the main problem I had with it was one that anyone, even those used to using a traditionally shaped thimble, would encounter: right where the metal cap meets the plastic body, the thread gets caught! In the process of sewing down all of about two feet of binding, I had to unsnag my thread five or six different times. Very annoying! To be fair, “snag” isn’t exactly the right word, as it didn’t in any way shred the thread, just captured it and released it intact. But while it didn’t seem to damage the thread, it definitely threw me off my rhythm, albeit not enough to run downstairs and retrieve my Roxanne thimble.

SO annoying...

SO annoying...

Verdict? Mixed. This is definitely the most comfortable thimble I’ve used that wasn’t my dear Roxanne. And with some practice, I’m sure I will stop trying to skewer my finger by pushing with the squishy plastic part. But the thread capture issue is the dealbreaker, and if that doesn’t lessen, this thimble will be joining its shiny brethren at the Guild Boutique table at next year’s quilt show.

Edited 2/20/12 to add: This post is part of Bonnie Hunter’s Thimble Linkup:


Entry filed under: Quilt Guild, Review. Tags: .

Baby Quilts Back to the Studio!

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Deb  |  February 20, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Thanks for sharing. I am just starting the hand quilting and have yet to use a thimble… I really should try out a few that I have in my sewing room. Love the pic of your baby in the jumpy. Mine used to love being in there, but they’ve both outgrown it and are now running around the house.

  • 2. marcella  |  February 20, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Good review. That would be really annoying to have the thread catch! I love my Roxanne thimble too!

  • 3. Jan Hatchett  |  February 21, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I love my Roxanne thimble, too! It is just perfect for hand quilting. But, I use a Clover jelly thimble for other hand work as the rolled rim at the bottom of the Roxanne digs into my index finger when I paper piece, etc.

    By the way, those Jelly thimbles are a lot tougher than they appear!

  • 4. Marylu  |  February 21, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    “albeit not enough to run downstairs and retrieve my Roxanne thimble.”
    That made me laugh out loud. Aren’t we funny sometimes? I get so annoyed with something, but rarely actully do something about it.
    One of these days, I will have to try out a Roxanne. They are intriguing!

  • 5. Janet O.  |  February 22, 2012 at 12:15 am

    I just bought one of these Clover thimbles today. I wore it around for a while and it is sooo comfortable. I hope it is the answer to my problem. My fingers don’t taper at the ends and I can’t find a thimble large enough that isn’t too large. This thimble actually fits. I only wear a thimble to hand quilt and I always push with the tip, so I am hoping it will work for me. I hadn’t considered the issue of catching the thread. We’ll see if it happens to me.


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