A lacemaking pillow is a firm object into which lacemakers stick pins to tension the patterns. They must be firm enough that a pin can stick upright in one and not be pulled over by the threads.

Historically, they were stuffed with tightly packed straw or sawdust and covered in a calico or cotton cloth.

Cookie Pillow

A cookie pillow is a round, flat, slightly domed pillow.

Bolster Pillow
A bolster pillow, made of a paper towel tube wrapped with several layers of tightly pulled cotton batting, and covered in cotton.

A bolster pillow is a cylindrical pillow used to make long, straight piece of lace such as edgings. They are kept in a cradle or basket to prevent rolling. This is the only type of pillow where gravity provides the tension.

Roller Pillow

Roller pillows are a cross between a cookie pillow and a bolster pillow. They have a small bolster set into a cookie pillow, to allow for long pieces to be made, but also providing a surface to rest the bobbins on.

Block Pillow

Block pillows are always made of foam. They are like cookie pillows where pieces can be popped out and moved around, allowing for much more flexibility, especially with pieces that turn corners. Many block pillows come with or can be made to have roller inserts. These modern additions are the "all-in-one" model of lacemaking pillow.

Materials used

In England, sawdust/hay remains the most popular form of pillow filling, but various fillings are used.

Modernly, pillows are made of polystyrene/Styrofoam (in England) and polyethylene/Ethafoam (in America). The difference is that the polyethylene is a self-healing foam that "heals" around the pin, making the pin more difficult to pull out. However, these pillows last longer due to the same self-healing property. It's up to the individual if they want a pillow that feels better to use but will only last six months, or a longer-lasting pillow that has a "grippy" feel.

Pillows can also be made out of variety of materials. An old wool army surplus blanket can be cut into circles and stacked to form a pillow. Layers of cotton batting can be pulled tightly over one another to form a pillow as well. Any material that can provide the stiffness needed and won't damage your pins can be used.