What are the Essential Tatting Supplies?

S. McNesby

Essential tatting supplies include thread, tatting needles or shuttles, tatting patterns and scissors. Crochet hooks, thread bobbins and bobbin holders are not essential tatting supplies, but they are very helpful. Tatted lace can be made with either a needle or shuttle, depending on the pattern being used and the skill level and preference of the crafter.

Mercerized cotton is common in tatting.
Mercerized cotton is common in tatting.

Tatting is a form of lace making that is closely related to macrame and crochet, and the most essential supply is thread. Tatting thread is available in a range of thicknesses and fibers. The most commonly used fiber for tatting thread is mercerized cotton, though some crafters prefer the drape and sheen of rayon thread. Vintage tatting patterns most often call for white or ivory cotton thread, though any color can be used to make a tatted piece.

Special needles or shuttles are needed when tatting, which is a form of lace making.
Special needles or shuttles are needed when tatting, which is a form of lace making.

Tatting shuttles are oblong thread holders that can be used in a variety of ways. Tatting shuttles can be made from different materials, including metal, plastic, wood or stone. Tatting shuttles are ideal for beginners and help hold the base thread used for tatting so that decorative knots can be applied. Most shuttles have a hook at one end to grasp the thread and allow the crafter to tat without any additional tools. Models without a hooked end might require the lace maker to use a crochet hook as well.

Tatting needles require slightly more skill to use than tatting shuttles. Tatting needles look like a larger, thicker version of a hand sewing needle, with a long, skinny eye opening to make threading easy. The needle is used as a base, and thread is knotted around the length of the needle to create a tatted lace project. Needles are considered slightly more difficult to use than shuttles, and tatting patterns calling for needles are for intermediate and advanced lace makers. Stores stocking tatting supplies generally offer needles in different shapes and sizes to suit different tatting patterns and projects.

Scissors or thread cutters are essential tatting supplies. Pulling on the thread used to complete a tatting pattern could cause an entire piece to unravel. A small pair of embroidery scissors or an enclosed thread cutter allows a lace maker to separate a finished project from the ball of thread used to create it. Decorative thread cutters and specialty scissors with curved blades can be found wherever tatting supplies are sold.

Using a tatting pattern allows a lace maker to create or recreate a specific pattern or design. Patterns can be simple or elaborate and can be used to create jewelry, accessories, home decor items or decorative lace edgings. Patterns can be found at bookstores, in magazines or at stores that stock tatting supplies.

Tatting patterns can be used to make jewelry.
Tatting patterns can be used to make jewelry.

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Discussion Comments


Tatting with a shuttle is not easy to learn, but

very efficient for holding more thread. Needle tatting is easy to learn, but the result is not the same look, and you add new thread more often, you have to own many size needles to match the width of thread. I make finished tatted items using the shuttle, and using the needle for split rings and with beads.

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