How to avoid sore fingers while hand sewing costumes

how to avoid sore fingers while hand sewing

One of my least favourite things about costume making is getting sore fingers 🙁


So I use my sewing machine for most part, but I usually do these things by hand:

  • Attaching straps to bra cups – because feeding bra cups through a sewing machine can be tricky.
  • Securing fabric to cover bras – because I don’t want stitches to show on the right side.
  • Beading and sewing on stones etc. – no choice!


If you’ve made a costume, you know the above tasks can take anywhere from 15 minutes to many hours.


And what do you get after hand sewing for hours?


A beautifully decorated costume (yay!) and really sore fingers (boo 🙁 )


But I really don’t like sore fingers that last for days. So I’ve searched and tried different things to improve it.


Here are my top tips on how to avoid sore fingers (in the order of effectiveness based on my own experience)!


How to avoid sore fingers while hand sewing costumes


#1. Use a smooth needle


I never knew what a difference a needle makes for your sewing experience until I used Clover’s BLACK applique needles.


You know, you often get sore fingers from gripping, pulling, and/or pushing needles. And I usually get sore on the side of my thumb and tip of my index finger.


But Clover, my favourite sewing tool company, created needles that glide through fabric with much less friction.


These applique needles are quite thin and small (available in No.9-12), and for costume making or regular sewing, I recommend No.9. They are perfect for sewing on straps and fabrics, and thin enough to go through beads. I don’t enjoy beading needles (often too thin to push through dancewear fabrics), so I use these needles for beading too.


These needles go through layers of fabric very smoothly, and my fingers don’t hurt as much because I don’t have to try to grip and pull hard. I only use these needles now! 😀


You can purchase these needles here.


#2. Use pliers


It’s a bit weird to bring up pliers on a sewing blog, but I find pliers super useful!


Again, sore fingers happen because you try to pull your needle hard.


So instead of pulling your needle with your fingertips, try using pliers.


It’s much easier to pull a small needle with pliers, and my fingers are definitely happier 🙂


You can use any pliers. I use a small pair of jewelry pliers like these.



#3. Take breaks & massage your fingertips


This is an obvious one, but when you are focused and excited about your project, it’s hard to stop!


But small breaks and a little massage for your fingers from now and then can really help.


Got cold fingertips? Massaging your fingertips definitely warm them up, and it improves your blood circulation, which is great for your heart, skin and overall health. 🙂



#4. Use thimbles


I’m actually just learning to use thimbles whenever I remember.


Thimbles protect your finger that pushes the back tip of your needle.


The ring shape ones like ones to the right are great if you have long finger nails, but I’m not used to pushing a needle with the middle part of my finger, so it takes some adjusting.


There are also thimbles that cover your fingertip like this leather one. With this type, you can push the needle with any part of your finger. Clover’s leather thimble feels nice on my finger 🙂


You can get the ring type here and the leather one here.


Either way, wearing something new on your fingers may take some adjusting and getting used to, and that’s why I’m only starting to use them. But for reducing pain for your fingers, a thimble can be a great solution 🙂



You can try just one of the above, and you should see a great improvement!


All of the above tips cost $0 – less than $10, so I think it’s worth a try 😉


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Thanks for reading and keep sparkling! 🙂


P.S. Pin this image for a future reminder!

How to avoid sore fingers while hand sewing costumes


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  4 comments for “How to avoid sore fingers while hand sewing costumes

  1. Norma Buffon
    October 20, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    thank you for tips on sore fingers. I have arthritis, having something to push or pull needles through material, etc. makes a huge difference on joints

    • Mao
      October 22, 2017 at 12:26 pm

      My pleasure, Norma! That’s great to know!

  2. sara keket
    October 20, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    I have been using pliers for a long time works great

    • Mao
      October 22, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      That’s great, Sara! 😀

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