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 !

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.

items for sale on etsy 041

  • 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.)

 

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!