Making Your Own
A straw pillow can take some time
to make, especially for the first time of trying so don't expect
miracles - it doesn't happen instantly.
I personally think that the best
size of pillow to start with is a 16 inch round domed pillow. Once
you have mastered this one you will be able to try different sizes
and shapes to better accommodate the type of lace it is you wish
to make. If you use or have used only a 'poly' (styrofoam) pillow, you will
be pleasantly surprised and pleased at the difference you will find
in using your own straw pillow.
Please don't misunderstand me when
I say this. I actually use poly pillows sometimes myself, as well
as straw. I also usually suggest that beginners to bobbin lacemaking
should start with a polystyrene pillow, for the simple reason that
they may decide somewhere along the line that it is "not for
them". So, therefore, it is best to find out if you like it
first and then make the straw pillow!!!
Before you start to make your pillow
you will need the following things:
A piece of plywood or similar
material which is 16 inch diameter -
be a bit careful if you choose something other than plywood because
you don't want your pillow to be too heavy, especially if you are
using it on your lap (chipboard for example is very thick and would
make a very heavy pillow and something softer like fibreboard for
example would not be satisfactory as it could not take the pressure
put on it by hard straw packing) A local joiner or someone
who cuts wood would probably make a 'round' for you for a small
fee (or chat up your husband/wife, boy/girl friend or whatever).
1/2 yard/metre of strong dark-coloured
cotton fabric which is approximately 36" wide for the pillow
cover (dark blue is a good colour but I have also used burgundy
and also a medium-dark soft red very effectively) A lttle tip here
- if you purchase one yard / metre of the fabric it will be sufficient
to make you a couple of matching cover cloths as well - and possibly a pincushion as well!!
- don't ask me how much - just have more than you think you will
need! If it is difficult for you to get barley straw, you
can obtain a pretty good result by using 'wood wool'. You
can usually get this from a shop that sells good china or porcelain.
It is something like extremely thin wood shavings and a bit curly.
The china comes packed in this and my local china specialist used
to give it to me for nothing to get it out of his way. so......Worth
Before starting on the pillow it
is really important to make sure that the "filling"
is BUG FREE. Straw has to be cut, broken or
chopped into small pieces 1" - 2" long so it is really
a good idea to do this first and then disinfect it using an appropriate
proprietary powder. Leave it in there for a while before you
want to use it, to make sure that you eliminated any possible future
In the meantime, cut two 16"
circles (I add on only a very small seam allowance to my circles
because as the pillow is filled the fabric will 'stretch' and if
it too loose or has to have too much straw put in it will not be
as satisfactory. The cover should end up fitting firmly and
smoothly over the finished pillow.
Put the right sides of the fabric
together and machine stitch halfway round the circumference of the
circle. Turn the pillow cover the right way out and insert the plywood
round inside the stitched half - it should fit really closely with
no loose fabric. Stitch around the rest of the cover by hand,
leaving a gap of about 6 inches or so for filling.
Once you are satisfied that your
straw is bug-free, starting putting it bit at a time into the pillow
cover on top of the plywood round. Be sure to pack it in very
firmly as you go (I use a wooden mallet handle) working slowly from
one side to the other as evenly as possible. Just keep on
packing it in and packing it down. The aim is to make the pillow
both firm (by firm I really mean hard) and smooth - flat
on top and sloping towards the outer edges. Try to ensure
that you do not have any 'pits' or 'bumps' as they will become most
annoying when you start to work on your pillow.
Persistent bumps etc can sometimes
be 'bashed about a little' (or a lot, depending on how mad you get
with it) from the outside to make them behave.
When you think you have enough straw
in your pillow - PUT SOME MORE IN and yet again some more
!! Most folks who make their first pillow almost invariably DO NOT PUT IN ENOUGH STRAW!!
Then, when you are absolutely convinced
that you cannot put in any more and the pillow feels firm and smooth,
flat on top, nice slope towards the edges (stick some pins in to
see how they stand up and how they feel going in) you can sew up
the gap, pat yourself on the back and enjoy a nice cup of coffee!
If you would like
details on how to make a tradtional lacemakers pinchushion just send me
an email and I will let you have the information.
IF YOU GET STUCK, I AIN'T GOING ANYWHERE!!
SO - TALK TO ME!!
my number !!