Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bead Journal Project - May

The fantasy dressmaker decided to focus on tatting this month.

Tatting is a handmade knotted lace formed with thread and a small shuttle. The shuttle works as a thread-holder and, as with a weaving shuttle, it moves between the threads on the loom of the hand - but that is the only similarity with weaving.

Only one simple knot is used throughout, the Lark's Head, consisting of 2 half-hitches over a core thread. Although it is a knot, in tatting language it is called a double stitch and consists of a first half and a second half stitch.

Gaps are usually left amongst the stitches to form picots, which can be employed for practical construction in addition to decorative effect.

In my bead tatting, each white bead represents a double stitch and each green bead represents a picot.

Lace was in great demand in the 19th century, but lace was extremely expensive, out of the reach of most people. This encouraged creativity, which was helped by the newly available tougher mercerized threads produced from about 1840. Inventive needleworkers found ways of making lace that were relatively inexpensive and also much quicker to produce than the traditional forms, including tatting.

The first tatting consisted of rings only - usually worked in a length of slightly spaced rings. The rings would be arranged and laboriously stitched together in motifs by connecting the picots.

During the 1860's, chains started to be used, allowing for more complicated designs.

In the 19th century and well into the 20th century, tatting was used like crochet or knitted lace mainly for edgings, collars, doilies, etc.

Prior to the early 19th century, tatting was white or ecru, later examples may include multiple colors.

Tatting is both delicate in look and sturdy in construction. It often survives longer than the cloth which it embellishes.


  1. A lot of my La Mode's from the early 1860's feature tatting for handcrafts - just the most stunning designs you can imagine - and even instructions on how to do a couple of versions of tatting (eg on needle etc)
    A friend of mine is going for her tatting instructor's 'certificate' through a lacemaking guild and I know she was just speechless when she saw what it originally looked like

  2. my gram tatted - i still have the pillowcases she gave me as a wedding present in 1970. your beaded tatting is so pretty.

  3. I was quite surprised at how different the very early tatting looked compared to even slightly later pieces - the use of chains changed it so much. Maybe someday I'll learn how to really tat, after all, I need another pastime (LOL)

  4. Your beaded tatting is BEAUTIFUL! Just wonderful!

  5. There is a huge tatting / lace making community out there that will gladly teach ANYONE who wants to learn. InTatters online forum or the International Old Lacers are where you can find us.

    I am amazed at this piece FYI - I don't use beads in my tatting, but many do.