First Steps in Bobbin Lace

In the spirit of ongoing learning and sharing of knowledge, I am going to design and create a Bobbin Lace course for those who’ve got no experience or knowledge of the art whatsoever.

My goal will be to follow MY lace teacher’s methodology and have each progressive assignment use no more than two new techniques. However, once you’ve put your first attempt at each assignment into your portfolio, I want to create patterns which can be recreated as something useful / decorative from the very first lesson.

Part of the course will include making your own beginner supplies.

I have five students lined up to test the lessons and help me perfect the class. Once I’m happy with the course, I will publish it on Skillshare to earn a small passive income. Skillshare is a fantastic site where you can study all kinds of creative classes and if you follow this link, you’ll be able to get your first three months of full access to thousands of classes for only $0.99 !

I’m working on perfecting the first lesson as we speak. Who’s in?

The very first handout, with a class description and materials list is available here:First Steps in Bobbin Lace – Introduction and Materials – EnglishIf you are interested in joining the waiting list so that I can let you know as soon as the course is available on Skillshare, please let me know !

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DIY Bobbin Lace Pillow, Part 2: Supplies

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In part one of this series, I discussed my current lace pillows and the tutorials I found which inspired me for this project.

This is a supply heavy project, so this installment is just going to cover the supplies and tools which you will need to get your hands on.

  • 1 Laptop table from Ikea. It doesn’t matter too much which table you get. Make sure it has an adjustable stand and that the surface of the table is large enough for your needs. Some people have made this kind of pillow with the DAVE table but as it wasn’t available here in Belgium, I ended up using the SVARTÅSEN. ( 20 € )
  • A roll of pattern paper, gift wrap would work well too
  • a pencil
  • a coin (for tracing seam allowances)
  • 1 panel of high density styrofoam. This stuff is fantastic. You can buy it in the insulation aisle of most hardware stores. You don’t want the low density white stuff which is used in packaging because it will break down ridiculously fast with use. The green stuff is so dense that it will be mostly self healing for a good long while. ( 8 € )
  • Hot wire cutter for carving the styrofoam to shape. These are hard to come by. I found mine at AVA for 20 € but they can be found on Amazon as well. If there is enough interest, I will see about getting some on hand to stock my Etsy shop so you can buy one from me.
  • Superglue for gluing styrofoam. You have to make sure you get the right glue as the majority of superglues have solvents in them which will cause the styrofoam to liquify before your eyes. (6 € from AVA )

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  • Tie-down straps to vise the foam pieces together without leaving marks
  • 1 old blanket (old polyester fleece works great as it is nice and stretchy)
  • 1 yard of nice fabric for the pillow top. You want something in a neutral tone which will contrast nicely with your lace while being easy to look at for hours on end. Imagine staring at flourescent green fabric for a few hours…yeah, don’t do that to yourself! A solid colored fabric would look nice and utilitarian but if you want something fancier avoid any patterns which are too busy. I had bought my fabric about a decade ago for use in my historical reenactment outfits, long before I realized that it wouldn’t work at all for my time periods.
  • 1 yard of sturdy, contrasting fabric. You’ll be using it to cover the base of your pillow so it has to be sturdy enough to stand up to whatever surface you’re working on. I’ll also show you how to make a pillow cover from it, so don’t grab the most hideous fabric you have on hand either!
  • 1 wooden box which will fit in the back corner of the pillow. I bought a few extra before they went out of season and if you’re quick you can grab one from my Etsy shop.

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  • Sturdy pins for holding the fabric in place on the foam until you can sew it into place
  • Fabric scissors
  • Needle and thread
  • Self adhesive velcro dots
  • A sheet of cardboard (or an old cereal box)
  • A bowl with a 14 or 15 cm diameter

Once you have gathered all of your supplies, set aside a weekend to make your pillow. In part three I will walk you through making your pillow as well as some accessories ( bolster pillow, pillow cover, and a handle to carry your amazing pillow everywhere you go.)

 

Faux Wax Seal Bookmarks using Polymer Clay

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Our wedding invitations had been a hit. The only complaint I’d overheard was that it broke people’s hearts to break that delicate wax seal.
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The more that people mentioned this problem, the more I started to think about ways to make more permanent versions of the seal which they could use long after the wedding.

I’ve always loved working with polymer clay and I thought to myself how easy it would be to make clay versions of the wax seals so long as I used fresh clay and conditioned it enough to take the impression.

Supplies:

I ordered a package of Sculpey’s Premo Effects Bronze clay and found that it was enough for 38 seals.

I bought a few packages of bronze eyepins at my local Veritas

Tools needed:

  • Needlenose pliers
  • a wire cutter
  • a pair of scissors
  • a glass pie pan for baking the seals

I used the lovebirds seal and the blue ribbons which were left over from the wedding.
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 How to:

 1.

The first step was to form the eyepins so that they would remain solidly placed in the polymer clay after baking.

I cut the pins in half with my wire cutters. Formed an eye on the straight half, and used my needle nose pliers to bend and loop the wire around so that the total length was less than the height of my wax seal. I did this to all the eyepins and then set them aside to await the next step.

2.

I experimented a bit to find the right amount of clay to make the impression into and found that a one centimeter ball seemed to work perfectly.

I rolled an entire package of the bronze sculpey into these little balls and set them aside. This helped to pre-condition the clay so I wouldn’t have to work it so much for the next step.

 

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3.

I poked a loopy eyepin into a ball of clay and then set it down onto a sheet of thick but flexible plastic.

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4.

Holding onto the eyepin with one hand, I gently flattened the ball of clay with the wax seal. I was surprised by how well it turned out. There were only a few of these that I had to take apart and try again.

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5.

I followed the instructions on the package closely and baked my seals at 275 °F (130 °C) for 30 minutes in a glass pie pan. I actually ended up taking them out around the 27 minute mark when I noticed that one was starting to look a bit burnt.

 

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6.

After the seals had cooled down, I used my wireworking tools to make sure that all the eyes were tightly closed.

7.

I used a piece of cardstock to make my ribbons all the same length. This is as simple as wrapping the ribbon around the cardstock once for each bookmark and then cutting through one edge of the wrapping.

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8.

I poked the middle of a length of ribbon through the eye (from front to back) and pulled the ends through the loop to form a tight little knot around the eye of the pin.

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9.

I cut the ends of the ribbon to an angle.

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All finished! You are not required to make bookmarks out of your seals. You can use them as pendants for jewelry, gift tag embellishments, brand labels. The sky is the limit!

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Of course, I couldn’t just send the bookmarks as they were, I needed to create some Thank-you cards to hold them. That walk-through can be found here.

DIY Bobbin Lace Pillow part 1: The Design

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I need a new lace pillow. I have two already but they don’t quite fill my needs and each of them have been damaged by one or the other of my cats. Apparently not even my pets approve of them.

My first pillow was a square tile shaped pillow made using a tutorial which I found online but which doesn’t exist anymore, apparently.
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Advanatages:

  • It was simple and quick to make.
  • It was durable, it has easily survived two years of lace class.
  • It cost next to nothing in materials.

Disadvantages:

  • The square shape meant that I often found myself with a corner poking into my chest as I worked my way around a project.
  • The fabric that I’d used as padding wasn’t well anchored down and started to slip around pretty early on.
  • The thin padding meant that the styrofoam developed permanent holes in the center of the pillow over time.
  • There was no way to attach it to a stand, so I had to find tables of the right height to work at before I could do anything.
  • Bagheera (my oldest cat and a real P.I.T.A.) pissed on it once and I never managed to get the smell fully out.

My second pillow was gifted to me by a lovely woman from England. I’d asked around about pillow tutorials and she told me she had an extra lying around if I wanted it and could have someone come get it. I’ve been using it for a year.

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Advantages:

  • It is a very attractive pillow, more professional looking than my tile
  • It has a wooden base with a hole in it so I could potentially attach it to a stand.
  • The domed shape makes it easy to keep the right tension on my bobbins.
  • It is smaller and more portable than my square pillow

Disadvantages:

  • There is no padding over the styrofoam and the cover isn’t large enough to allow for much to be added.
  • Once again, the lack of padding means the styrofoam is being destroyed in the center.
  • I’m progressing in my lace career and would like to start making long lengths of trim. This simply isn’t possible on a flat pillow because moving the pattern up each time you reach the edge is horribly time consuming.
  • My kitten, Guinness, tried using it as a scratching post one night while I slept. It is still usable but I need to make a new cover and I need to find some kind of product to repair the edges where he did the most damage.

I want to continue learning Torchon but I also want to be able to make lace trim in continuous lengths so it is time to research what is out there.

To learn about the many types of pillows that exist, I invite you to go to the Bedford College of Lacemaking’s website.

Here in Belgium, the two most common types of pillows are the cookies and the bolsters. The one is great for motifs and round projects, the other is better suited to trim. I make both… so I reinvented the French style pillow.

I wanted my new pillow to work like a cookie for motifs and corners but also like a bolster for trim, so it seemed logical that I needed to find a way to add and remove a bolster to a cookie without ruining the benefits of either style.

I found a tutorial on Pinterest which uses a laptop stand from Ikea to make a cookie style pillow with stand.

RodPronar’s Tutorial

They made a very attactive pillow but it still isn’t going to work for trim. Then I found a second tutorial which uses the same laptop stand to make a French style pillow with a bolster.

Evalon’s Photo-tutorial

This one is closer to what I’m looking for. I like the idea of a removable bolster pillow but there are two potential problems for me with this tutorial as well.

For one thing, when they use it in flat mode, the roller part of the pillow is filled with foam. While that’s not a big deal, I honestly don’t think I’ll ever need to pin in that spot. If I have a motif that large I can use my rounded cookie. I have a piece of leather that I slide around under my bobbins so no matter what I put there, so long as it’s flush with the surface of the table then it will work, if I’m going to cut into the pillow, I might as well make sure that space has a purpose.

For another thing, I really don’t like the idea of the pillow being permanently attached to the stand. There’s no way I could take that whole assembly to class with me! I’ve only worked with portable pillows so far and the thought of being chained to one spot terrifies me!

I decided I needed to combine the best parts of these two tutorials while changing things up a bit. My walkthrough will be available in part number 2!

Thank you Notecards with Bookmarks

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Now that most of my thank-you notes have arrived at their destinations I can share my tutorial with you.

The very first thing I needed to do was to make a pile of faux wax seal bookmarks for our friends (the tutorial is coming!)

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After I made my faux-wax seal bookmarks I needed an attractive way to present them so I made a run to my favorite Belgian crafting store, AVA to see what they had available.

Since all of their paper and cardstock are made in the same styles and colors it was pretty effortless.

I went straight to the area where they sold the bright blue paper that I’d used for the wedding invitations and I quickly found some A6 sized trifold cards with a cut-out window on the front. Perfect! Right beside those cards were the perfect size of envelopes so I grabbed a stack of each and continued my search for supplies.

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In the rubber stamp display I found two new stamps which I simply had to have; a “Handmade with love” stamp from Artemio and a “Merci stamp from Rayher.

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The rest of my supplies came from my card making stash. I used one of the stamps from our invitations and the same ink pads and markers that I’d bought for the invites. I found that I needed a turquoise gel pen to write the thank-you notes so I picked one up on my next trip to AVA.

STEP 1

I used my bronze ink pad along with my new “Merci” stamp to decorate the front of the blue card.

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STEP 2

I used the “handmade” stamp to decorate the center back of the card. Then I set them aside to dry while I worked on the white inserts.
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STEP 3

First I folded the white cardstock in half and then I used my cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter to cut each sheet of paper into two 20 1/2 cm by 14 1/2 cm pieces.

STEP 4

I folded each cut piece of white cardstock in half and used my hole punch to make a hole in the top center of the left hand side (the side that slips behind the window of the blue card.)

STEP 5

I placed a glue dot in the middle of the front of the white card, stuck a clay seal to the glue dot and passed the ribbons through the hole.

STEP 6

I inserted the white card into the blue card like this:

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STEP 7

I decorated the flap of the envelope with my Heyda Bird stamp in bronze.
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STEP 8

I used my bronze pen to address the envelopes with our address on the back to keep it clear.

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STEP 9

I used my blue gel pen to write my message on the inside of the insert.

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Once I had all of my materials gathered, these thank-you cards went incredibly fast. It took longer to write my messages than it did to make the cards and once again everybody seems to be very pleased by their cards. I mailed them off the very next day and they started arriving right away.

I really think card making is going to become one of my most useful hobbies!

 

The invitations

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I really wanted to make our invitations myself. Phil thought I was crazy but I managed to do it!

After weeks of searching and looking through tutorials and templates, I found this gorgeous template  so generously shared by roberts2b. 

 

The completed invitation

For the most part, the template was perfect for my needs so I will not repost the templates and the English versions. If you want to use this template, please go get it on their original post.

I did need to make a few changes, however, to make these work for me and I will allow myself to share them with you here.

Additional supplies needed for my version of the invitation:

1 large sheet of stencil plastic from AVA Paper (basically a Belgian version of Office Max but with a lovely craft section) The plastic that I purchased was simply sold with the other large sheets of paper. I’m sure most office supply stores should have something which will work

1 Lovebirds wax seal kit from Nostalgic Impressions with bronze glue gun wax

(the Lovebirds seal is available here)

Wax seal from Nostalgic Impressions

1 Love stamp kit from Heyda (I found it at AVA but it is available through Amazon)

Love stamps from Heyda

1 Love Birds stamp from Impression Obsession (on a cling mount)
Lovebirds stamp

Colorbox Pigment Ink pads

#15020 Turquoise and a metallic cat’s eye Queue (for the bronze)
Colorbox Pigment Stamp Pads

A Dove hole punch from Artemio

Artemio's Dove Hole Punch

Bronze ribbon from the after-Christmas sales

Blue and Bronze pens, the ones I used were:

Bronze Uni-ball Signo in a broad tip

Turquoise Stabilo Pen 68/51Bronze Uni-ball Signo in a broad tip and Turquoise Stabilo Pen 68/51

A few packages of blue feathers from AVA

All of my paper was purchased at AVA

A sheet of self-adhesive rhinestones


 

 

The first thing that I did after downloading the templates was to personalize the text and translate it so that I could print both English and French versions.

I scanned a sheet of the blue paper from AVA and used Photoshop to find the RGB value of the color. Then I went through the invitations to make sure that all the blue was the right shade.

While adjusting the colors I noticed that the tree images were very pixellated and not unicolor so I spent a couple of days polishing them up as well. Here are my finished trees.

white tree on blue white tree information tree invite tree

STEP ONE

We printed the envelope template from roberts2b’s tutorial and I traced the measurements onto a piece of stencil plastic. I carefully cut it out with a craft knife and used my new stencil to trace the envelope onto pieces of A3 paper. Our dear friends Kasia and Fab came over twice during that week to help me cut out all the pieces. The pockets were folded into place and glued with a glue stick. Then the stack of envelopes was placed under a heavy book to dry.

STEP TWO

We then had to print out the templates for the invite and happiness backing and cut my bronze paper to size.

STEP THREE

Step three was to print out our invitation, menu, information, happiness, and RSVP pages and cut them to the correct sizes using a metal ruler, rotary cutter and self-healing rubber mat.

menu French x 2

French invite x 2

Information French x 2

happiness french x 15

RSVP French x 2

As I cut out the invitation pages, I used one of my stamps and the bronze ink pad to put a small singing bird into the branches of the tree.

Heyda's Bird in bronze ink

STEP FOUR

It was time to assemble the invites. The info, rsvp and menu pages were slipped into the pocket. We used a glue stick (don’t use liquid glue or it will make your paper ripple!) to glue the invitations and happiness tags onto their proper backings. After the stack of invitation pages had dried under a heavy book, they were glued into place in the envelopes. Just before closing the invitation envelopes, we stuck a single ribbon inside so it would float out when opened.

STEP FIVE

The next step was to prepare the ribbons. I used a fine bladed craft knife to cut tiny slits in the backing of the happiness tags, right along the edge of the white paper so that the slits were nearly invisible. I cut the ribbons to size by wrapping a long length of it around a stack of envelopes which happened to have the right size and then cutting through the wrapped ribbon on one edge to have many pieces of uniform length.

The finished tags

I slipped one end of the ribbon in a slit on the happiness tag, wrapped it around an invitation and slipped the other end in. I tightened it down and slid it off of the invitation. I sealed the ribbon ends in place on the back of the tag with a small piece of clear tape.

I stuck a pair of rhinestones onto each tag and then the ribbon was slipped back into place to hold the invitation closed.

 

Happiness is marrying your best friend

The tags were slipped back into place around the envelopes with the tag on the back so that there was nothing but ribbon over the opening.

STEP SIX

I opened up my package of glue gun sealing wax and went to town sealing all of my invitations. Be very careful with this step! I melted a few ribbons by getting too close with the tip of the glue gun and more than once I realized far too late that I was holding the seal incorrectly. Still, it only took a few test runs before I was pumping out beautiful wax seals.

Sealed and ready to mail

I strongly suggest buying yourself a new glue gun… as cheap as possible. This wax melts like crazy inside of the gun and I STILL haven’t gotten it all out of mine. I actually used my dirty glue gun to my advantage in another project but you’ll have to wait to see that.

STEP SEVEN

Address all of your mailing envelopes. For our envelopes I used simple craft paper envelopes from the bulk office supply aisle of AVA and simply folded them to size. I used the Love Birds stamp from Impression Obsession to decorate the corner of the envelopes. Once the envelopes were addressed, I rushed out to the post office and mailed them off.

The sealed envelope

BONUS STEP

There was a TON of scrap paper left over and it saddened me to think of all that expensive paper getting thrown away. So this is when I went back to AVA and found the dove hole punch. Many a night over the next month was spent watching Netflix while I punched away at the scraps. I ended up having a very large cookie tin full of little bronze and blue birds to decorate the reception hall!

What happened to all of my scrap paper

Thanks to the helping hands of my fiancé and our dear friends, the wedding invitations were finished and in the mail just before the deadline. Philippe was proud to tell everyone that I’d made the invitations myself and we received many compliments over the next week or so as the invites started appearing in people’s mailboxes.

The only complaint I overheard was that some people felt broken hearted at the thought of actually breaking the wax seal to get into the invitation. If they only knew what will be arriving in their mailboxes any day now!