This is a place where you can find all the information and other resources you need to help you to learn to tat. There is more information in What Is Tatting?.
The only equipment needed is a shuttle and 2 balls of thread in contrasting colours, but not too dark. For threads available, see Suppliers in our Links section, or Google for more, as few shops nowadays sell them.
Shuttles: Try various sorts to find what suits you. The main difference is that some shuttles have an embedded hook or pick, which is very useful for joining picots. Others don't, and then you need a separate crochet hook.
Threads: For the first lesson, Number 10 is good as you can more easily see the stitches. But after that No 20 thread is a good all-rounder, or try No 40, 60 or 80 for a more lacy effect.
Getting started is easier if someone shows you how. But you can also learn with the help of books and the internet.
The Personal Touch
The Ring of Tatters can help you by:
- finding a local tatter to teach you, if possible
- giving details of a local tatting group
- giving a free lesson at one of the big shows or at a Tatting Day, see What's On.
You can also join the Ring – beginners are welcome. Contact Us if you want help.
Patterns for Beginners
Here are some patterns to get you started:
Beginner Butterfly Simple Butterfly Picot Flowers Simple Edgings Ring/Chain Motif
Many tatting books now out of print can be bought secondhand from various dealers. For example, abebooks have in their catalogue more than 1,000 to choose from! Some have high prices, but others are very reasonable.
“Learn Tatting” by Rosemarie Peel.
Very good value, this is a fold out poster/leaflet with excellent instructions and diagrams. Good also because you may not want to spend a lot until you know whether tatting is your thing.
“Tatting Basic Patterns” by Rosemarie Peel.
This small book, size A5, has 32 pages, full colour throughout, teaches the beginner and has 20+ patterns. Included with the book is the “Learn Tatting” poster described above.
“The Complete Book of Tatting” by Rebecca Jones.
Voted “the tatting bible” on email lists. Has instructions and a wide variety of modern-style patterns: Christmas ornaments, a cat, the tatting bug, bookmarks and more.
Mary's books have been favourites ever since they were published in the 1980s. Most of them are out of print and expensive because of demand. But new copies of her last book can sometimes be found at a reasonable price. Her 4 books all contain a good mix of designs - edgings, doyleys, collars, cross bookmarks, motifs either stand alone or joinable, bookmarks and her own signature "fragments". Photos and written instructions are very clear.
“A Pattern Book of Tatting”, 1985. Includes how to tat.
“Tatting in Lace”, 1988. How to tat, some historical background and 2 edging patterns from the 19th century by Mlle Riego.
“Tatting Patterns”, 1989. Patterns as above.
“Tatting with Visual Patterns”, 1992.
Different from her other books in having colour photos and diagrams. Lots of general tatting hints. Dictionary of tatting terms in European languages. 3D bell flower and rose, and many other patterns as above. Some modern experimental tatting.
“Tatting Patterns & Designs” by Gun Blomqvist & Elwy Persson.
Lots of patterns for snowflakes. Some doyleys.
Lyn Morton – several books, see her website.
“Easy Tatting” by Rozella Linden.
Motifs, snowflakes, motifs, choker necklaces.
“The Craft of Tatting” by Bessie M. Attenborough.
Traditional style edgings, motifs, doylies.
“A New Twist on Tatting: More than 100 Glorious Designs” by Catherine Austin, 1993.
Lots of pretty pictures in colour, lacy tatting nostalgia.
“Projects in Tatting” by Sheila York, 1985.
How to tat, simple cards, jewellery, other applications.
“Tatting” by Cathy Bryant, 1992.
Baby bootees, heart, butterfly, basket, doyleys etc.
New books are being produced all the time – look at suppliers (see links) or get recommendations from email groups.
If you join the Ring of Tatters and live in the UK you can borrow books from our library.
“Learn to Tat” by the Ring of Tatters a real bargain, simply by reason of it being an amateur production, with instruction by our Chairman, Jennifer Williams.
It was created by members of the RoT Committee who have many years of experience in teaching in schools and colleges together with many years of teaching tatting. It is aimed at absolute beginners and covers the basic techniques. The student is shown slowly, step by step, how tatting works. It explains how to follow a tatting pattern and there are instructions for a simple edging.
“Tatting” by Pam Palmer the classic professionally-produced DVD (with booklet).
Well-known tatting author Pam Palmer has designed a basket of flowers with patterns which introduce a wide range of basic techniques. It is suitable for both beginners and for those who can already tat. (120 mins). It is available from C & D Springett, 8 Strath Close, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV21 4GA, Tel: 01788-544691. It is also available from Van Sciver in the US.
“Learn To Tat” by Janette Baker. Book 48 pages and interactive DVD. See website for details.
Our Learn To Tat DVD
Our Learn to Tat DVD is available to watch online. Simply click on the lesson you would like to see.
Join an international beginners' class with Georgia Seitz
Use a thick but not too thick thread, otherwise it can feel quite clumsy – No 10 is ideal.
Practise the knot by making a chain, and use 2 contrasting threads for shuttle and ball thread. Then you can see instantly if you have flipped the knot correctly – the stitch will be the colour of the ball thread, not the shuttle thread.
Wait until you can flip the knot reliably, then move on from chains to rings. You need to be able to make proper knots that will slide on the thread, in order to make a ring that will close.
Practise for 10 minutes or so then stop for a few minutes rest. Shake out your hands and shoulders – we can get very tense when trying to learn a new skill. Then have another go. Try to do some practice when fresh, not late in the evening when tired.
Picots – how to make them all the same size? Beginners often worry about this, but if you do a practise piece with lots of picots and deliberately don't worry about size – then you get more relaxed and they automatically become more regular.
Finishing ends. There are 3 common methods:
— cut and tie the ends, perhaps adding a little touch of glue or clear nail varnish for extra strength
— thread each end on to a sewing needle and weave in and out of the tops of the previous few ds
— overstitch the ends on the wrong side with a needle and sewing cotton.
For beginners, particularly, it is good to use the quick cut and tie method and concentrate your time and energy on doing more tatting! But it depends on what the item is, whether it will have to withstand a lot of laundering or not, and also how perfectionist you are.