The first thing you need to learn if you’re going to work as a tailor is how to use the thimble. It goes on your middle finger and pushes through the needle that’s being held in your thumb and first finger, which is why ours don’t have a top to them. A dressmaker’s thimble usually does because they would use the top to push as well.
When I first started I was asked if I knew how to use a needle, and I said ‘of course I do’. I didn’t realise at the time how important it was to work with a thimble, to avoid damaging your fingers. It was hard to learn and to get the flexibility in your middle finger. It doesn’t naturally fold down as easily as it needs to, so when I was first learning I had that finger tied back to the base of the finger with a piece of cotton. After a while the muscle weakens and it becomes much easier.
I’ve gone through so many different types of thimbles as well. It turned out I was really sensitive to the small amount of nickel they contain (most of it is steel). So I had the one I use now made specially, out of gold, which is nice. It feels more personal too.