What Is Tatting With Lace?

What is tatting with lace? Have you heard of tatting?

I have only recently become aware of tatting with lace. So what is tatting with lace and how do you do it? Well actually I also thought it was tatting with lace at first, but now I realize it is actually tatting to make lacey-type projects.

If you are a lover of needlework and crochet, you are going to absolutely love this hobby.

This post does contain affiliate links.

What Is Tatting?

Tatting is a centuries-old technique for crafting lace, which is done by constructing a series of loops and knots.

This method is effective for creating lace edging in collars and other decorative items. The lace is then formed by utilizing a pattern of rings and chains, which are formed a half-hitch knot or cow hitch, over a core thread. Tatting is used for a number of practical as well as decorative applications.

This book on the left will provide you with some simple projects to explore the art of tatting to make lace.

The book also includes a few more advanced patterns. Simply click on the book to find out more about it.

The History Of Tatting

Tatting is an art form that dates back to the early 19th Century. The term ‘tatting’ was derived from the French word “frivolite” which denoted a decorative line of textiles, which were produced for this technique.

Tatting was primarily developed to mimic point lace patterns. Some historians believe that tatting was commonplace during the reign of Louis XV of France in the 17th Century, as carefully preserved paintings from that era showed women such as Madame Adelaide, who was the king’s daughter, to be wearing outfits that featured shuttle designs. However, historians were not able to fully evaluate this fact, and no documentation is present to authenticate that assertion.

Tatting continued to have a large following with the entry of the 20th Century. Most fashion magazines during the early part of this era featured women wearing outfits that had lace collars and cuffs, and also showed baby shower gifts that showed tatting designs.

As more modern fashion trends came in, new technology made lace an inexpensive and easy-to-acquire item, while hand-made lace became more expensive and quite rare.

Later, tatting flourished online, and online mailing lists such as eTatters and TatChat were formed in the mid-90s. These two popular online groups worked hard to promote the art of tatting, and this resulted in a revitalization of public interest in tatting worldwide.

Commonly Used Tatting Techniques And Materials

Shuttle tatting is considered to be one of the earliest techniques for making tatted lace.

The shuttle technique involves holding a length of wound thread, and carefully guiding it through a series of loops, to create the required knots.

The shuttles (like the ones seen below) come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, and most often have a pointed hook at one end, to help in the proper construction of the lace.

Some tatting collectors are even known to have sought after antique shuttles, which date back to the 1800s as well as the 1900s.

Needle tatting has two techniques or methods. The more commonly used technique is where a double thread passes through the stitches, and the result is a creation that’s almost similar to shuttle tatting but offers a much thicker and looser appearance.  The second needle tatting technique is one where a single thread passes across the stitches.

Cro-Tatting on the other hand uses a combination of crochet and needle tatting.

The tools used for this technique involve a tatting needle that has a crochet hook at the other end. Cro-tatting can be done by using a bullion crochet hook, as well as a straight crochet hook. Cro-tatting is very popular in Japan, and a lot of people consider this to be more difficult than needle tatting or crochet.

For first-time tatting enthusiasts, you need to first familiarize yourself with the different types of thread used for tatting. The applicable thread types include crochet cotton, as well as mercerized cotton.

The threads can be bought in craft shops, as well as from online stores. Second, you need to obtain shuttles, and most of the modern shuttles sold today are made from plastic.

Third, you need to properly learn how to wind the shuttle. Lastly, try to practice using the shuttle. You can obtain a number of instructions for using the shuttle online, and from neighborhood craft stores.

Here is a great tutorial that I found online.

Different Tutting Styles

There are several different types or styles of tatting work as stated above, that incorporate the use of different tools. Here is a more in-depth explanation of style.

Tatting Work With A Shuttle

This tatting style resembles the original version of knot-working craft skills sailors use to fix fishing nets, but the shuttles for tatted lacework are much smaller, and the threads are thinner and more decorative.

A cord or thread winds onto a spool on the shuttle. The tatter uses their hands to wrap the thread and manipulate the shuttle through the knot pattern to make a lacework design.

Using a shuttle can be hard for many people, especially those with arthritis or other joint issues, since holding the shuttle while working on the knots can become tiring. The best thing to do here is test out various shapes and sizes until you find one that feels good in your hands.

Needle Tatting

Needle tatting uses a needle stitch in place of a shuttle to make knots. Because a needle is much thinner than a shuttle, many crafters find needle tatting less stressful and more comfortable to manipulate through the thread pattern.

The needle is long and has an even thickness from tip to eye. The end of the needle is blunt so that you won’t prick your fingers. There are different needle sizes depending on what you are aiming to make.

Needle tatting projects require separate lengths of thread to use for making the knots since there isn’t a continuous length available as you find wound on a shuttle.


Crochet-tat is a blend between tatted lacework and crochet. Here you would use a small crochet hood to form your thread into knots.

The hook is a long blunt needle with a tiny hook at the end, much like the needle tatting style.

People who love to crochet love this style, as they feel comfortable with it very quickly.

So What Do You Need To Start Tatting?

You will first of all need to start familiarizing yourself with the threads that are used for tatting.

This Egyptian Crochet Cotton is a good example of one to start off with. Size 10 is the most common one for beginners.

Next, you will need some tatting shuttles, like the ones you see above.

You will also need some hooks.

Here is an example of a tatting kit that can be ordered online, so you don’t have to shop around.

Luckily there are so many videos online on different techniques, that you don’t even need to venture out of your house to learn how to do tatting.

Visit this site if you want some more information on tatting and how to get started.

Happy Tatting!

10 thoughts on “What Is Tatting With Lace?”

  1. You have excited me enough to want to give it a try. I’ll familiarize myself with the threads that are used for tatting. I really like the Egyptian crochet cotton. And it may be the perfect starting point for me. I already have in my mind a couple of things I would like to achieve. But I know I first must learn the basics. I need to crawl before I walk.

    • Good luck Ann. Luckily there are so many video’s available on YouTube, that you don’t even need to pay somebody to tutor you.

  2. Tatting is a bit like crochet is it? Although it looks more artistic. 

    I loved reading your page and although I subscribed may not do it for money-making but would be nice to do something creative as a hobby. 

    I can knit and I do love to create. I just would like to complete a piece of work so if I could start with something simple I will as getting to 62 years old now and would be nice to do. 

    I have subscribed thank you Anthea xx

    • Thank you for subscribing Anthea, and there are many simple projects that are quick and easy that you can try for yourself on this blog.

      Happy knitting!

  3. I was a very avid crocheter myself, but I haven’t heard of such a craft as tatting in lace. Very interesting, I know about crocheting Irish lace, but this is the first time that I have heard about a thing called tatting. 

    I looked at this thing a bit, and it seems that a new hit could come from where details can be added to the blouses,  depending on how creativity allows. I think it would be very cool to use these elements to make a baptism dress look pretty with detail around the sleeves and the bottom.

    • I think a lot of people use tatting to add borders to things like table cloths, fancy clothes, like a baptism dress, and even hair pieces.

      If you love to crochet, it might be something for you to explore further and add to your existing skill set.

  4. Interesting article. When I was young I did quite a bit of knitting with my relatives. We would gather at one of the homes of our relatives and spend a delightful afternoon knitting and chatting. This brings back fond memories. 

    I never did any tatting with lace though. My mom and aunt had a lot of these pieces of crafted lace around the house though, and I still have some that I saved. This is a very interesting method. Thank you for sharing this article about tatting. Tatting certainly does have an interesting history. I appreciate this comprehensive article full of ideas on techniques and different styles.

    • Thanks for stopping by Joseph. I think tatting was popular in the ’50s, ’60s, and 70s more so than now, as those crafted pieces of lace are not something that everyone uses as table decorations anymore. The look now is more minimalist. However I am sure there are many other things that tatting can also be used to make.

  5. Thank you for the amazing article on tatting with lace.  I did not know that tatting was a big thing centuries ago.  I was, even more, surprised to see how often it has been used in recent times.  This seems to be something that has stood the test of time, and I really like some of the designs that are made this way!

    • Hi Jesse,

      Luckily there are loads of books on the subject with many patterns for different items. I think there are even some examples in this article.


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