Korean Inspired Thimbles

Real Korean thimbles are a testament to a “make do and mend” lifestyle.  The craftsmanship and attention to detail that goes into creating these miniature works of art is exceptional. My humble skills are not enough to create my own thimble but I was lucky enough to have in my hoard, old photo copied directions for making “Korean Inspired” thimbles that were lined with leather and more in line with my current embroidery skills. 

The inspiration for making these thimbles came from the December 15 in the Advent Calendar I am preparing to give to my mom for Christmas this year. It has this quote hidden on the inside of the tin:

Hand sewing certainly answers this call and I know my mom will appreciate these leather lined thimbles that will protect her finger as she stitches.

Materials:

  • Fusible Webbing.  I used two 2″ X 2″ pieces for each thimble. I used some vintage stuff I found in the back of my drawer.
  • Scraps of 100% cotton large enough to fit in your embroidery hoop for the embroidered front of each thimble. 
  • Co-coordinating scraps of 100% cotton for the back of each thimble. These scraps should be at least 2″ X 4″.
  • A scrap of leather.  One 2″ X 2″ piece for each thimble. My leather scrap came from a thrift store jacket.
  • Embroidery floss.  I used to following DMC colours:
Red 817Navy Blue 817Orange 722
White 3866Pink 899Purple 209
Yellow 743
  • Mini Binder Clips (optional)
  • Craft Cording.  I found mine at the Dollar Store
  • Assorted hand sewing tools including a thimble.
  • A fabric marker to transfer the embroidery patterns to the fabric.
  • A  bit of cardstock.  An old cereal box will work fine.
  • The korean-inspired-thimble document:

What you will need to make thimbles

Method

Step One: Making the template

*Please note that both me and my mom have tiny hands. This pattern fits small fingers. You can make the template larger by drawing around the outside of the template in 1/8″ increments.

Print out the korean-inspired-thimbles sheet.  Roughly cut out the thimble pattern and glue it to a piece of cardstock.  Once dry, neatly trim the pattern and cut out the center bit. You pattern will look like an upside down letter U, so an “n.” Here is mine:

Thimble Template

Step Two: Embroidery

Transfer embroidery patterns to cotton scraps.  I used the tape-the-pattern-to-the-window method to transfer the pattern to my fabric. The embroidery pattern should have at least 2″ of fabric below the fold line or bottom of the embroidery pattern.

Place the fabric into the embroidery hoop and embroider each motif using a sharp needle.  Recommended stitches and floss can be found on the korean-inspired-thimble document but feel free to use what ever floss you have on hand as well as your favorite stitches.

When the embroidery is completed, cut out a rectangle that is at least 2″ X 4″ with the embroidered image centered at the top.  It can be cut larger than 2″X 4″ as the finished thimble will be trimmed down.

Step Three: Constructing the front and back pieces

Now is the time to break out the fusible webbing.  Make sure that the fusible webbing is on the wrong side of your fabric! The folded edge will form the bottom edge of of the thimble, thus eliminating the need to try and hem something so tiny! The back piece has an extra layer made of leather. 

Constructing the front piece

According to the manufacturer’s directions, adhere the fusible webbing to the top half of the front piece on the wrong side so that it covers the back of the embroidery.

Remove the paper from the fusible webbing and then fold the bottom half of the fabric to cover the webbing  Press to adhere. 

Constructing the back piece

The back of the thimble has an extra layer made out of leather.  I only adhered the leather to the wrong side of the fabric I used for the back of my thimble.  An additional piece of fusible webbing could be adhered to the leather before folding the fabric up to cover the leather but I found that I did not need this extra step.

*You will see in the following pictures that I cut the fabric I used for the back a little big.  This worked well and made the whole process a little less fiddly.

As you did with the front piece, mark the center of a 2″ X 4″ piece of fabric by folding it in half and press with an iron.

Step Four: Putting it all together

With right sides together,  trace the shape of the thimble on to the fabric using the cardboard Thimble Template made in Step One. Use the window to center the embroidery. Check to make sure that the folded edge of each piece is at the bottom.

Stich around the thimble following your line. I used a mini binder clip to hold the front and back pieces together. Only sew along the sides and top of the thimble leaving the bottom open. I used a mini binder clip along the bottom to hold all the layers together while I sewed.

Trim the thimble to about 1/8″ from the stitch line. Clip around the curve being careful not to cut any stitches.

Turn right-side out.  It will take a bit of work.  Take your time and struggle on.

Almost done.

Step Five: Finishing your thimble

Authentic Korean thimbles often use a The Pojagi Edge stitch to beautifully finish the seam. I am neither talented enough or patient enough to use this stitch, so i finished my thimbles using cording attached with a couching stitch. Do not skip this step. Finishing the seam prevents any errant needles from slipping between the two sides of the thimble and stabbing you. Ouch!

Lay a piece of cording over the seam.  Use a couching stitch with the floss of your choice to sew the cording down.

Yay!  Your new thimble is complete.

If you use this tutorial to make a Korean inspired thimble, I would love it if you would share your work with me.

Happy Sewing


Embroidery Tutorials

Split Stitch:

Satin Stitch:

French Knot:

Couching Stitch:

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