bobbin, implement on which thread is wound, used in sewing, spinning, weaving, and lace making. Sometimes the wooden spools of sewing thread are called bobbins. The bobbin of a sewing machine is a metal cylinder, with a flange at each end, on which the lower thread is wound to be carried through the shuttle to the seam. In some primitive handweaving the weft, or woof, was wound on a bobbin flanged at one end and passed or carried by it through the warp. In tapestry weaving, bobbin looms are essential, as weft strands of different colors must go back and forth for the distance required by the design, somewhat in the manner of an embroidery needle darning in a pattern. In making pillow lace, bobbins form an important part of the equipment, as each thread of the pattern requires a different bobbin; intricate patterns call for hundreds of bobbins to hold the fine thread in order. Bobbins for lace making are made in various shapes and sizes, from a variety of materials, as walnut, rosewood, boxwood, and olive wood, glass, metal, ivory, coral, malachite, and bamboo, and are ornamented with carving, painting, or engraving.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.