Let’s talk lace pillows


IMG_0453 - Version 2Lace pillows come in all different shapes and sizes – depending on the country of origin, and the preference of the lacemaker.

The lace pillow is the surface on which bobbin lace is made.  Pins are pushed into the lace pillow as you progress with the bobbin lace.  Therefore, the material from which the pillow is made should be sturdy enough to hold the pins in an upright position whilst you are tensioning the thread around the pins.  However, the pillow should not be too firm, otherwise it will require too much effort to push the pins into the lace pillow.

Lace pillows are made from a variety of materials – e.g., polystyrene, ethafoam, or straw.   I tend to prefer lace pillows that are made from ethafoam as it is nice and firm and very durable and lightweight.  But ultimately, it is a matter of personal preference – you need to experiment and find what works best for you.

When I started making lace, I found it very useful to talk to other lacemakers in our Bridge Lacemakers group about the lace pillows they use and what their preferences are.  One of the ladies told me she has seven lace pillows.  I was in absolute awe!  I could not imagine at the time why anyone would ever need seven pillows.  Well, fast forward a few years and I totally get it now.  Which brings me to the next thing.  I have a confession to make.  I now also have seven lace pillows.  And each and every one of them is really well used.

Below is a selection of some of my favourite lace pillows and pillow accessories.

Cookie pillowIMG_0519 - Version 2

This was the first bobbin lace pillow I bought when I started making lace.  It is a 22″ pillow made of ethafoam and it is covered in blue cotton, which is very restful to look at while making lace.  The pillow surface is virtually flat in the middle, and then slopes ever so slightly downwards as you get to the outer edge of the pillow.  This is particular suitable for the type of bobbins that I use (square continental bobbins), as the flat surface prevents the bobbins from rolling, but there is still enough of an angle towards the outer edge so that the threads are kept taut.

When the pillow arrived in the mail, I was slightly surprised by how big it was and was a bit unsure  whether I would ever need such a big pillow.   I soon realised that it was a very sensible choice because it provides for a very comfortable workspace – enough room on the pillow to accommodate reasonably large prickings, and with plenty of room for my bobbins.  With hindsight I wish I had bought the 24″ pillow!

A few months later I decided to invest in a smaller cookie pillow which I could take along to our lace group meetings.  Table space at our Friday night get togethers was at a premium, and it was of course easier to cart around a smaller pillow rather than the 22″ pillow.



I love the small cookie pillow, but it really is only suitable to work smaller pieces, e.g. bookmarks.  Very, very handy though.  The other thing I really like about this particular pillow is that it has a wooden base, which really makes it very durable and pretty resilient to knocks and bumps that inevitably arise when you are travelling around with your pillow.



Block pillow

IMG_0476 - Version 2This pillow consists entirely of movable ethafoam blocks (covered in green fabric) packed firmly into a wooden base to hold them together.  The blocks can be repositioned as the bobbin lace progresses to ensure that there is always a comfortable amount of open pillow space to accommodate all the bobbins.

For me, this is my most versatile pillow.  I love it so much that I have invested in a second one.  I made a piece of Flanders on my first one, and for a variety of reasons it took almost two years to finish.  Variety is of course the spice of life, and I was getting a bit bored working only on the Flanders piece.  I wanted to start experimenting with Binche, so I decided that was a good enough excuse to invest in a second block pillow.  Let’s call it a birthday present from me to me.  One of the best decisions I have ever made!

Pillow rest

When I started making bobbin lace I realised soon enough that it can be quite awkward to sit and make lace for hours when your lace pillow is placed flat on a table.  I found that it became quite uncomfortable quite fast – sore shoulders etc.  The problem was solved reasonably easily by using a pillow rest that allows the pillow to be positioned at an angle (i.e., sloping towards you).  I find this a lot more comfortable.



Pillow stand

This wooden pillow stand is fully adjustable for hight and tilt.  It has a handy arm with small little table where I can put my pins/pincushion/scissors/thread.  It is great to travel with as it can be disassembled quite easily, and takes only a few minutes to reassemble when you get to your destination.  I love using this pillow stand because it enables me to sit and make lace in my garden, or on my deck overlooking the gully.


Travel pillow

This handy little travel pillow was a gift from one of my work colleagues.  It belonged to his mother in law who was an avid lacemaker in the late nineties.  It is very light and compact and easy to carry around.  All the sides are buttoned up whilst in transit.  And then when you get to your destination all the sides are unbuttoned and voila – there you have a work surface for your bobbins and a lovely large roller pillow.  Very useful to make lace edgings, garters and bookmarks.  There are two very useful storage boxes – one on either side of the  roller pillow.  The back flap is fitted with an elasticised pocket where you can store your lace as it comes off the roller pillow.



Pillow bag

A pillow bag is very useful for transporting your lace pillow, especially if you have work in progress with bobbins, cover cloth etc.

This particular pillow bag is one of my most precious possessions.  It belonged to the late Maggie Scudder who sadly passed away in 2015.  My good friend Kaye bought it for me from Maggie’s estate as a birthday gift.  Such an incredibly kind and thoughtful gift from Kaye – I was very deeply touched by it.

IMG_0515 - Version 2


There are of course plenty of other types of lace pillows in different shapes and sizes.  Letslace has a Pinterest board that shows different styles of lace pillows from all around the world.

If you would like an email of my blog posts, click on Follow in the bottom right hand corner of this page.

Thanks for stopping by to read my blog.  My next post will be on Saturday 30 April 2016 as I am writing a very big exam in the next few weeks.  See you then!