Creating a Double Bobbin Shuttle

When Gina Shillitani mentioned in the Tatting Designers Online Class that she thought she needed a double bobbin shuttle for a pattern she was designing, I got to thinking about double bobbin shuttles and their uses.

Until then, I had assumed a double bobbin shuttle had one purpose, and that was to let one use two threads as one, such as combining a metallic thread with a cotton thread for a special effect.  A little research online however soon showed me that there is more to a double bobbin’s use than that.  A double bobbin allows you to switch back and forth between colors for rings.

I then got to thinking, how could I make a double bobbin shuttle to see if I liked using one, without investing in a sizable purchase.  The following illustrates my creation.

My idea was to create a stacked bobbin shuttle with a bobbin on top of another.  I didn’t want to use regular size bobbins because of the total thickness that would create.

I found Singer sewing machine bobbins at Joann’s Fabrics that were thinner than most sewing machine bobbins.

bobbin

My next step was to decide on a medium for the shuttle itself.  I use disposable cutting board sheets in the kitchen.  These are inexpensive, about $1 for a package of 2, and are very similar to quilting template sheets.  Since the vinyl is easy to cut with scissors and flexible, I decided to try using it for the shuttle body.cutting mats

I used Inkscape to draw my templates.

shuttle body

The local hardware store carries screw rivets which would be used for my post.

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I now had all my materials.  The first problem I encountered was the shuttles I had purchased had no center hole!  Fortunately, my husband, Ron,  was able to drill a hole through them without breakage by starting with a very small Dremel bit and enlarging the size of the bit for several passes.  He was concerned that the resulting center wall might be too thin, and reinforced the center by coating (the thread side of the center wall) with super glue.

When I assembled the bobbin, it looked like this:

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Next question was how to hold the tips together.  I went through my glue supply, and none of those on hand were formulated to bond two non-porous surfaces.  I checked prices, and most were running about $6 each.  Since the idea was to keep the shuttle as inexpensive as possible, I decided to try something different.  I used a fine point marker to mark 3 dots at one end of the shuttle.

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Again, with Ron’s help, we used a clamp to hold all three layers together, and he drilled a hole through the layers at each of the markings.

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6 lb test monofilament fishing line was used to stitch the end together, and I repeated the process at the other end.

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The end result does not quite have the same curve top and bottom.  I decided I liked the more curved side to be the top.

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Now for the test.  Would it work?  Could I tat easily with it?  Would the bobbins be tight enough not to unwind on their own, and yet release thread when needed?

I wound the bobbins with two shades of pink Lizbeth size 20.  The size of the shuttle is not that much larger than a regular shuttle.  Using the Singer bobbins has kept the height to  less than 3/4”.

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I chose to use Sheron Goldin’s instructions for using dual colors in a double bobbin shuttle , Tatting with a Double Bobbin Shuttle by Sheron Goldin.  This presentation was originally given in Georgia Seitz’s Online Class, but before I joined the class.

With the first stitch or two, I see a problem with the shuttle.

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The thread is catching on the screw rivet, both top and bottom with the passes.  The shuttle needs to be tighter.

I cut two washers freehand from the flexible vinyl, then reassembled the bobbin with the washers against the center wall of the shuttle.  It worked excellently for the top of the shuttle. 

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Because the bottom of the screw rivet is not tapered as the top is, I was still catching the thread on it occasionally, but I found I was soon compensating for that as I tatted, and no longer catching it.

Voila!  I had my double bobbin tatting shuttle.    The materials had cost less than $5. 

Sheron’s detailed instructions were very easy to follow, and I soon could see the results.

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I love my double bobbin!  Next, I want to try to make one that has the bobbins inline with each other instead of stacked.  For that one, I’ll use regular size bobbins.

If you’d like to try making your own double bobbin from my instructions, feel free to do so, but please give me credit for the design, and let me know how you like it.

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5 thoughts on “Creating a Double Bobbin Shuttle

  1. Wow Yumatatter! This looks fantastic. I had a quick look at this last class, and the presentation of it here is very clear. I might give it a whirl too one day and make one!

    Julie: join ‘intatters’ there are many forums here and help to learn tatting. there are also online classes for beginners and links to you-tube videos and blogs to help with any quesitions. there are also lots of like minded crafters to chat with and contact.

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