Some time ago, I was wandering around looking at tatting patterns on the internet, like you do, and came across the suggestion, when making lace that would case ribbon or elastic, to just use locking chains. They’re straight and fast to make and in short have many advantages. Well, I said to myself, that’s one I hadn’t heard of, how do I make a locking chain? So I looked around some more and found a tutorial for shuttle tatting locked chains. They had, at the bottom, the suggestion that needle tatters could manage them by making one stitch on the needle, sliding it off, making another stitch on the bare thread with the needle, and so on. Other than that I’ve found no advice for needle tatters trying to make a locked chain, and am somewhat convinced it can’t be done any better than that suggestion. The problem is, I simply cannot be bothered to pull my yards and yards of needle thread through for every single stitch I make. So, I needed another way.
This pattern is the simplest possible ribbon-casing lace using the technique that I decided on, which is a spiral chain. I should probably note that despite this post being inspired by shuttle techniques that don’t transfer to needles, I’m pretty sure this technique will work just fine on shuttles. I suppose in some lights that’s strike one against needle tatting, but on the other hand I have reason to believe it is a lot faster in general than shuttle tatting, so I’ll stick with it for now.
- Ring 4ds, join A (picot on first iteration), 8ds, picot A, 4ds
- Spiral chain: make 12 single stitches of the same handedness, wrapping around the needle once and a half
- Ring 4ds, join B (picot on first iteration), 8ds, picot B
- Spiral chain 12 single stitches
By single stitches I mean half of a ds, choosing either the first half of a ds or the second half and then sticking with it for the whole chain. If you stick with the same stitch for the whole pattern, the chains naturally bend outwards a bit, forming a tube that makes threading it with elastic or ribbon easier. If on the other hand you use first-half stitches for step 2 and second-half stitches for step 4, it will look more symmetric if you’re not planning to thread anything through.
My sample is made with size 20 thread and a #7 needle, and fits a 1/4″ ribbon or elastic snugly (see photo at right) or a 1/8″ ribbon loosely. I recommend checking that your elastic or ribbon will fit well after two iterations of the pattern; you can make the space wider by adding single stitches to the spiral chains, as long as the thread ends up on the opposite side of the needle from where it started (go around 1.5 times, or 2.5 times, etc). Alternatively, use bigger thread or a smaller ribbon/elastic.
This pattern post is really meant more as a design element suggestion than as a stand-alone pattern; please feel free to replace the rings with hearts, clover leafs, or larger motifs, or add picots and use it as a foundation row for more elaborate patterns. If you’d like to use this lace as an insertion or edging in a sewing project, I suggest replacing the 8ds’s in the rings with 4ds, picot, 4ds.