First, a new one I stumbled upon at the fabric store, the Protect and Grip thimble from Clover.
Why is this thimble so great? The rubber keeps it from falling off your finger and the metal tip has that great rim that helps push the needle through tough spots. This turned out to be worth the extra money. Added bonus: freaking cute!
That thimble still won't replace these plain, old rubber finger tips that I've been using for years for hand quilting. This goes on the top hand to help pull the thread through. the thimble is on the bottom hand, right?
Next are these flat-head pins from Fons and Porter .
I held off on buying these because I thought I pin was a pin. I was wrong. I bought some because I read that the flat head caused less distortion when piecing. That really does help, but the super thinness of the metal part of the F & P pins also greatly lessens the distortion. Another plus is that they come in the pretty tin WITH a window to see what's in there.
This one is also from Fons and Porter, curved safety pins for holding the fabrics and batting together.
The F & P pins are good quality, and I love the nice box with a window--decorative, convenient, and matches those straight pins mentioned above. Gotta make the sewing room look pretty.