Step-by-step tatting instructions

Written by joy kimber
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Step-by-step tatting instructions
Tatting is commonly used to create edging for pillow cases and handkerchiefs. (ladies batiste handkerchieves with multicolour lace ornaments image by Maria Brzostowska from

Tatting is an old craft dating back to the 19th century that uses knots and loops to fashion a type of durable lace. Doilies, pillow edgings and table runners are commonly tatted using a pattern of chains and rings. The only tool necessary for this type of artisanry is a tatting shuttle, although it can also be done with a needle and thread. With some practice, you can learn the double stitch, which is the backbone stitch of all tatting.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Size 10 variegated thread
  • Tatting shuttle

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  1. 1

    Wind the shuttle by threading tatting thread through the hole in the shuttle's post. Tie a knot to secure the end of the thread to the post. Wind the thread onto the post until it is full.

  2. 2

    Hold the tatting shuttle between the thumb and forefinger of your right hand with the shuttle pointed away from you.

  3. 3

    Release approximately 18 inches of thread from the shuttle. Wrap the thread away from you, across the back side of your left hand, around your fingers and back to your thumb, forming a circle of thread. This is called the ring thread.

  4. 4

    Hold the beginning of the circle and the end of the circle of thread together between your left forefinger and thumb. This position is referred to as the pinch in tatting instructions.

  5. 5

    Extend the ring and middle fingers of your right hand while holding the tatting shuttle. Wrap shuttle thread loosely over these extended fingers.

  6. 6

    Pass the tatting shuttle, from right to left, under and over the ring thread in your left hand. Continue to pass the shuttle under the thread loop on your right hand and pull shuttle thread to the right until it is taut.

  7. 7

    Keep the fingers relaxed and make a quick jerk motion to the right. This will allow the loop of ring thread to flip around the shuttle thread and form the first half of the double stitch.

  8. 8

    Grasp the first half of the double stitch in the pinch. Hold the shuttle to the right, allowing the shuttle thread to hang loosely in front of the ring thread.

  9. 9

    Pass the shuttle over and under the ring thread in your left hand. Bring the shuttle out toward the right.

  10. 10

    Relax the fingers of your left hand and pull shuttle thread taut to the right.

  11. 11

    Raise the middle finger of your left hand and slide the second half of the double stitch close to the first half. This completes one double stitch.

  12. 12

    Hold this stitch between the pinch to continue tatting.

Tips and warnings

  • Your thread may twist while tatting. This can be remedied by holding completed stitches firmly while allowing the shuttle to dangle and thread to untwist.
  • Avoid overwinding the shuttle as this may damage the point.

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