Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Note About Designing

While I was surfing Etsy the other day, I came across this lot of tatted pieces for sale. I'm not sure which picture will come up when you click on the Etsy link because it just goes to the listing and not necessarily the one out of a group of photos that I was looking at. I posted it on the Tatting Goddess yahoo group in case anyone was interested in purchasing it although I think it is probably more suitable for CQ-ers to use. There was one edging I was interested in, to tat, not to buy. I'm pretty sure it is a vintage pattern but I haven't taken the time to look for it in my extensive collection. I found it in a House of White Birches publication shown below, Book #4 titled "Old & New Designs in Tatting & Crochet Braids". They republished many old vintage books and still hold the copyright.

I decided last night to try to duplicate it. If you're concerned about copyright infringement, keep in mind that I do not claim the design as my own, I'm not publishing my stitch count, and I'm not selling anything in relation to this experiment.

I was able to get a close stitch count from the Etsy photo but it still didn't tell me how to tat it, so I drew out the shape and tried to find a logical direction to tat in and a starting point. Then I sat down and tatted according to what I'd figured. Right off the bat something was wonky. I went ahead and finished the first sample and then compared it to the original. At that point, I could see I'd started off in the wrong place. Close, but it made a significant difference in the final look.

This morning I started tatting at a different point and it went much smoother. I also noted my clover at the bottom seemed a bit bunched so I changed the stitch count slightly as I proceeded to the next repeat and it lays better but I'm not sure it's looking the way I want. I'll probably tat a few more samples with minor changes to get it the way I want. I missed a join too and that makes a difference in how it lays.

For this sample, I wound approximately 3 yards on my shuttle and this is as far as I got before I ran out of thread. That means this edging is thread intensive. I used size 20 Manuela and that doesn't include the thread from the ball for chains. So maybe 5 yards total for just this much tatting? A finer thread would take less, of course, and you would work up a sample and check accordingly. This is important if you're using hand dyed thread because it comes in 50 yard skeins. In size 20, I'd only get 10-15 repeats of this motif which probably would not be enough for a mat so I'd need to order more than one skein. In size 80, it would probably be enough for a hanky edging but I'd check it out first!

Okay, the purpose of this exercise is NOT to show you how to copy someone else's pattern. The purpose is to show you one way to design something yourself by using a process similar to what I did with the edging. If you're clever enough to figure out an existing design, you're clever enough to design your own patterns.

I googled images with the search word "scroll shapes". One of the hits was this freebie page, Free and here's one I picked to save in my "Inspiration" folder.

I'll probably use this more for embroidery but I'm posting it here because the lines are simple and a good example to start out with.

Here are some ideas to think about. The center of each of these is a line. Some are straight and some are curved. Chains are the most common way to depict a line, both straight and curved. How many ways can you tat a chain? The usual way with straight tatting, lockstitch chain, purl chain, rings thrown off chains - those are the first that come to my mind. The shape of your line will determine which technique you'll use.

Now see all the things outside of the lines? What kind of tatting comes to mind? Rings, beads, block tatting? So you start building your design. Are you going to tat it in one go or are you going to do sections? What order makes the most sense? As you put it together, other ideas will come to you and you may end up with something ENTIRELY DIFFERENT! It happens all the time.

Give it a try, play, and feel free to email me your results!


  1. I think I've solved the 'mysterious' vintage edging dilemma for you. It goes back to at least 1872 !!!!

    Back in September, October and November of 2009, I posted about an edging that looks very much like this, and I go into the 'history' of it. I used it on an edging for the following: (1) a T-shirt, (2) as a 'round' for the bottom of my 3-D bell (except without attaching the side rings to each other), and (3) as a trim on my slippers. All three are in different threads. If you type "1872" in my search box on my blog, you can see all three posts. It's one of my favorite edgings!

    In a nutshell, the pattern is one that appeared on the internet before October of 2000, and it was from the website of Etha Schuette (Maus), called "Tatting Treasures", which doesn't seem to be available anymore! Fortunately, I printed the pattern!

    Etha said she copied the pattern from Godey's Lady's Book, Vol 84, p. 278 - which is pretty specific!! I don't know how she acquired the book! It might be in the Antique Pattern Library, but at any rate, I don't think you have to worry about a copyright problem!

  2. Nice job of figuring out the vintage edging! It's a very pretty design.

    The scroll lines are giving me ideas :)

  3. Kathy, your posts are great background. I noticed the picots are greater in number than the one I saw on Etsy and so is this copy I have from House of White Birches. I suspect there are multiple versions. I think I have a copy of the Godey book - a more recent reprint, but all the same stuff.

    Yarnplayer - you are excellent with the more abstract designs so I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

  4. Very interesting post and comments, today, Gina. I appreciate your photo of the motif that didn't work out - a good example of how things don't always tat up the way we think they will and why. Thanks.
    Fox : )


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