Isn’t this nice antique wooden sewing kit super, with its turned bobbins? It looks quite plain, but contains hidden secrets: needles can be stowed away inside the handle and the bobbins can be unscrewed and you’ll find the spikey pin. The pin was and still can be used as a hole punch to create an eyelet by forcing the weave or fabric apart (pattern pricker).
Imagine it being used in the 18th or 19th century. It screws apart revealing a sharp pointed bodkin tool for making holes
and another space to store needles and pins.
The top turned wooden sections can hold 5 different sewing threads. Anyone in the family who sews will love this traditional craft tool and would appreciate it as a lovely and useful gift.
The word bobbin goes back to the 1520’s or 1530’s from the Middle French word “bobine”, an object used in sewing, tapestry-making or lace-making. In the old days when wooden bobbins were still manufactured in bobbin mills, the shape of the hand carved wooden bobbin alone, told you what thread was on it.
You can find decorated bobbins but the plain ones decorated with rings, used for lace, had to be delicate in order not to hamper the passing of the bobbin through the fine lace. Certain types of lace needed many lightweight bobbins.
French Protestant refugees fled to England after the massacre of St. Bartholomew, after the revocation of the Nantes edict in 1685 and certainly during the French revolution in 1789. Many of them settled in England and brought their knowledge and bobbins along, adding to the East Midlands and South Devon lace reputation in those days.
In my shop I sometimes use lace as background to present shopping items:
Lace makers still create different designs, each of them use dozens of bobbins at a time. Bobbins were often made out of locally available fruit trees. In medieval times you could find them in bone and metal forms and probably wood as well. The oldest lace bobbin in England dates from the late 1600’s.
It’s only in the late 1960’s that the plastic bobbins appeared, meaning the end of the wooden bobbins and the mills that made them. It’s worthwhile to visit some of these bobbin mills (museums nowadays) to get an idea of how they were made, impressive!
The craft of lacemaking is bound to a high standard, whether it is needle lace or bobbin lace. When interested in buying some, remember that antique lace will always have a minor discoloration or damage and prices will differ according to age, rareness and condition of your item. To sell or buy it, you’ll find the following standards to determine the price: in excellent or perfect condition, in good condition and possible minor damage due to age, in medium condition with stains or holes due to age, in poor condition with stains or holes.
Look at this lovely lace surrounded handkerchief for sale in my shop:
This beautiful lace cross is also to be found in the shop:
Bobbin lace involves many threads, each wound onto a separate bobbin. If you’re thinking of starting to make bobbin lace you’ll have to acquire certain techniques, starting with the stitches (cloth stitch, half stitch, double stitch and tallies), maybe also the braids/plaits, although they don’t occur in all styles.
But if your not interested in making bobbing lace, this tool, combination bobbins, needle case and pick, could easily win your heart for easy sewing, some unique needlework or even as just another nice sewing item for your collection. And if you’re not into sewing, it’s always nice to see turned wood.
Am putting my lovely vintage lace tool in my shop and then wizzing off to find some more unique heirloom items, scavaging through history’s left behinds!