Do you use a thimble?
I can't remember ever sewing without one. I think it's a brilliant little invention and I don't how anyone can handsew for a long time without one. Using one helps to push the needle through your fabric with ease and keeps your fingers from getting tired! I've tried to teach (okay, preach to) my sewing students that they should learn to get used to it. It's a hard thing to learn if never used one (you need to unlearn sewing without one). Like any other muscle in your body, your fingers need to be trained.
I had a hard time coming up with a written explanation of how to use one, so I made a little video tutorial.
(if you want written explanation eHow offers up a brief explanation).
The thimble needs to on the middle finger of your sewing hand. Watch the video to see how I do it (please excuse the fuzziness!):
Notice how I use my thumb and index finger to guide the needle where I want it to go. Then I push the needle thru with the thimble (the thimble is always on the back of my needle, ready to do its job). Notice, too, how I use my ring finger and my pinky to reposition my fabric. Every finger is sharing the workload. What a good little team!
If you've ever hesitated using a thimble, I encourage you to try it! Just grab a piece of fabric and practice with a simple running stitch. It'll get easier every time. Remember, practice makes good!
I'm curious to know how many of you out there actually do use one. Feel free to share your experiences in the comments.