Sunday, September 26, 2010

Embroidery Floss in Tatting

Years ago, when I started tatting and read every tat list post ever written (internet was new too!), there were references to tatting with embroidery floss. I was tatting with whatever I had on hand, not having learned about "good thread" yet, so I was using perle cotton in size 5 and bedspread crochet cotton size 10 for a lot of my EARLY work. I could barely see the knots on that big thread because my eyes didn't know yet how to see the tiny stuff. So when someone mentioned embroidery floss, separated, I couldn't imagine tatting with it.

Did I mention I broke a lot of those big threads because of my poorly made knots?

It took me a few years to try embroidery floss out but when I did, I tried it all! This entire elephant was tatted using 2 strands of rayon floss. It adds shine, depth and texture, but rayon is slippery. The newer rayon floss is not so bad. I often use the metallic floss for jewelry, especially earrings, but these days there are other very strong threads that are easier to tat with. A single strand of metallic would break but more than 2 strands was often too heavy for beaded earrings. It does add some sparkle though.

Here is an excellent reference shared by Sheron Goldin for the 2008 online tatting class. It covers everything you want to know about using embroidery floss for tatting.

Here's a quick visual - I separated the 6 strands of cotton floss, pulling out one strand at a time for the first 3 strands. Then I wound 1 strand on a floss holder and the other 2 on another. The remaining 3 were wound on another. Then I tatted (yes, last night after I said I wouldn't tat anymore!) a sample of each. I wound the shuttle 20 turns which was too much just to show a single ring so I tatted til I ran out of thread on each one. I thought I joined in that gap of rings in the single strand sample but ....that's just another example of how my tatting was going yesterday.

Here are the samples without the distraction of the floss holders.

Yes, I've had a much more productive day in tatting! Here's the pear in that same embroidery floss. I'm not sure which partridge looks better in the "seat" of it and I've added the extra element of changing backgrounds.

At first I wasn't sure that the lighter partridge looked right but now I think so. Wish I'd scanned this set up on white, but I can try that later. The way this one is done, you would almost have to frame it or stitch it down or even glue (gasp!) it down. The directions do not attach it to the partridge but now that I've made it, I think if I make it again, I will attach the pear to the bird.

Backgrounds are funny. I wanted to tat on this wire with black thread and silver beads but decided I needed a test tat first. I found it looks really striking on a black background too but that was from laying it on top of the scanner.

Here it is with the scanner's white background. See how much "lighter" in texture it feels? This one is going in the dye bag so you'll probably see it again when I've played more.

I'm also painting wooden snowflake shapes for thread holders. It's only 5:12 p.m.! I suppose I could take a nap too. It's pretty chilly out - just enough to have me dressing warmly inside and looking for things to bake in the oven. I've got beans in the crockpot. What a nice Autumn weekend!


  1. Gina,
    Thanks for sharing the samples with everyone. Not everyone will know that. I still use what I have. Yes, you'd be surprised at which one I used what kind of threads for. Yes, even vintage embroidery floss & vintage tatting thread to modern threads. Some expencive & some I got at discount stores when I was lucky enough to stumble on some. I don't mean this in a bad way at all. So it's nice for you to share this with others.
    Love your partridge & the partridge with a pear. Your rings are cool too. Keep up the great work.

  2. Thanks for posting this. I've been contemplating using embroidery floss, but wasn't sure how many strands to use. This is very helpful, especially your samples showing size and how much you can tat.

  3. Love the partridges especially the one sitting in the pear also love the backgrounds that you used.

  4. I really like how the lighter one looks in the pear. Great project!!

  5. What a difference a day makes! The pear and partridges are LOVELY! I also like the lighter partridge better with the pear - I like the way the color of the pear shows up a little bit in the partridge.

    Your silver bangle tatting is very cool. I have no sense of size on images I see on the internet. I was just wondering if the middle was big enough to hold a ring of tatting also.

    I kind of like the way the picots separate with 2 or three strands of floss, but cannot IMAGINE separating a very long length of floss! I often try to rush separating floss for embroidery and end up with a wad at one end.

    :) Ann

  6. I LOVE the teal behind the pear. Just LOVE it! The shape of the pear is wonderful and the bird... she has such elan!
    This was fun to read and I am off to check further about the thread...
    Fox : )

    p.s. Missed you a lot at Cambridge yesterday. Almost did not go because I knew you were not attending. : )

  7. I prefer the teal partridge in the pear. I think the multi-colored one gets a little "lost" in it. Plus the multi is so colorful, it stands on its own!

  8. Hi Gina,

    I would have chosen what you chose. It is very appropriate for Christmas. I have never tatted with embroidery floss and I do have quite a number in storage from those cross stitch projects. The metal ring has given the tatting more structure. Would love to see it again after you have 'played more with it'.

  9. I really like your pear and partridges. I wouldn't have thought to tat w/ floss, seems like sewing thread which breaks to easily for me.

  10. Hi Gina,
    When I first learned to tat, I could only find floss and crochet thread, so that was what I used. The floss has a nice feel to it, but I think that for me more than 2 strands is too soft for needle tatting as it tends to flop. I love your partidges, and think the dark one stands out nicely against the pear.

  11. Nice to see this unique work of thread........really amazing work you have done...i love to spent some time here.....the great thing about that......the lovely thisng is that its comppletly unique and lovely.......


Emails and comments both are welcome and always read.