Tag Archives: edging

Pattern: Butterflies edging

Butterflies or possibly weird flower edging

Butterflies or possibly weird flower edging

I’ve got another pattern with a meandering backbone and weirdlyshaped rings today; it’s meant to look like butterflies but depending on the color combination may just look like weird flowers. It’s not quite flat, which adds to the butterfly-like effect, but I can’t get a good picture showing that. Without further ado:

  1. Ring 4ds, 4 single stitches of the same type spiraling halfway around the needle, 4ds, 4 single stitches of the other type spiraling back, 20ds, picot A, 8ds.
  2. Ring 8ds, join A (there is no shame in using a little crochet hook here; this join is a bit tricky to make), 12ds, picot B, 4ds, picot C, 4ds, 4 single stitches spiraling, 4ds, 4 single stitches spiraling back, 4ds.
  3. Insert the tip of your needle into joined picot A and tug it outwards a bit to draw the two rings together and make the butterfly’s head.
  4. Chain 4ds, join B of previous motif, 20ds.
  5. Pass needle through picot C and shoelace trick to swap the positions of the needle and ball threads.
  6. Repeat from step 1.

butterflies_detailFor the spiraling stitches, I recommend using first-half single stitches, then second-half single stitches on both rings of one motif, then second-half followed by first-half on both rings of the second motif, and so on switching back and forth; this puts all the bumps where the knots wrap around the thread to be on the same side of the lace. The photo at right is a close-up of the side without any bumps on it; the photo below is of a different piece, but was made the same way and shows the bumpy side.


Unfinished (the chains are too long) butterfly pattern in blue variegated thread

I was playing with color a fair bit in making the photo piece, but I did some development of the pattern in a single color of thread (although variegated), so I wanted to share a photo of that as well. The colors you choose make a huge difference to this piece, in my opinion. I’m happiest with bright colors on the rings and pale on the chains, making the butterflies pop more, although the single-color one also has its charm.

Pattern: Needle-tatted garter

Lace piece with 1/8" blue ribbon

Lace piece with 1/8″ ribbon

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.


Lace by itself

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.


  1. Ring 4ds, join A (picot on first iteration), 8ds, picot A, 4ds
  2. Spiral chain: make 12 single stitches of the same handedness, wrapping around the needle once and a half
  3. Ring 4ds, join B (picot on first iteration), 8ds, picot B
  4. 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.


Lace with 1/4″ elastic; note the curl due to the snugness of the fit

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.

Pattern: Tatted balloons


Tatted balloons

Lately I’ve been thinking about unorthodox construction methods in tatting—one of which is the chain to nowhere, kind of the contrapositive of the split ring. I’ve been starting most of my pieces with a chain, and noticed that the un-anchored chain tends to curl up a bit, putting me in mind of streamers (or tentacles; I’m working on a tatted cthulhu and/or octopus design). Once in mind of streamers, I thought of birthday party balloons, and decided to see if I could put together a festive balloon-inspired edging. Judge for yourself how well I succeeded.

You will need a cut piece of thread, several yards long; you will be working from both ends so you can’t work straight from the ball. You will also need at least one needle, and the pattern is a lot easier with two (of the same size). I worked the above with size 10 crochet thread and two #5 needles; embroidery floss would also do well.


  1. Thread one end of the thread onto needle #1. If you are using two needles, it will stay there the whole time; this end of the thread is your needle thread. Leave the other needle loose for now, and begin the work at the center of the cut piece of thread. If you are only using one needle, you will need to pull it off the needle thread before step 3, and put it back on again after.
  2. Ring 8ds, join (picot in first iteration), 16ds, picot, 8ds. Rings should be worked entirely with the needle thread, as in my tutorial.
  3. With the other needle and the other end of the thread, line up the loose needle pointing in the opposite direction from how you would do a ring, so that you will work towards the eye of the needle. Chain 32ds. Thread the needle with the same thread you have been working with and pull it through, creating a chain to nowhere. Pull it tight, and twist it a bit with your fingers to get the desired effect. Pull the thread off the second needle and leave it loose.
  4. Using the first needle, make a quite ordinary chain of 12 ds.
  5. Repeat from step 2.

You may have noticed I talk explicitly about needles in the pattern; if you are a shuttle tatter I am sure there is a way to adapt this but don’t know what it is. If it helps, the chain to nowhere is the same as the second half of a split chain, for which there are tutorials around for shuttles.


More balloons

Quick pattern: Subway trim

A narrow trim that looks sort of like subway cars, to me

A narrow trim that looks sort of like subway cars, to me

One of the ladies at my local needlepoint group decided to give away part of her stash recently, so I’ve got a bonus spool of size 20 crochet cotton to play with! I’ve been doing a bunch of practicing—I’m nearly to the point that I’m willing to work with Cluny leaves, figured out how to make nested rings, found a tutorial and made some progressive (split) rings, and have come to a better understanding of Josephine knots. More on those, perhaps, later. In the meantime, I’ve designed a simple, narrow edging/trim strip, shown above. Here’s a pattern:

  1. Ring 9ds, picot A, 9ds
  2. Chain 4ds, join to previous motif, 16ds (or 6ds, picot, 6ds, picot, 4ds if you want picots along the top edge to sew through)
  3. Ring 6ds, join A, 6ds, picot B, 6ds
  4. Chain 16ds, picot for next motif, 4ds (or, replace 16ds by 4ds, picot, 6ds, picot, 6ds)
  5. Ring 9ds, join B, 9ds
  6. Shoelace trick: tie a single overhand knot to switch the locations of your ball and needle threads
  7. Chain 6ds
  8. Shoelace trick again and repeat from step 1

Here’s a closeup photo of the piece shown above and a photo of a piece with the optional picots:

subway_close (1024x768) subway_sewable

Pattern: Thistle edging

Thistle edging sample

Thistle edging sample; ignore the extraneous picots on the left-hand side

Today’s pattern is a simple edging I’ve been playing with for the last couple weeks, off and on. It reminds me somewhat of a row of stylized thistles, so that’s what I’m calling it for lack of a better name.

Each ring in the pattern joins to its two neighbors, and there are only two other structural picots/joins in the pattern; I’m going to mark all of the neighbor joins as picot N/join N to avoid going through the whole alphabet, and save A and B for the two picots that aren’t joining immediate neighbors.

  1. Ring 8ds, picot, 4ds, picot N, 8ds
  2. Chain 4ds, picot A, 8ds
  3. Ring 8ds, join N, 8ds, picot N, 4ds
  4. Chain 4ds
  5. Ring 4ds, join N, 4ds, join B, 8ds, picot N, 4ds
  6. Chain 4ds
  7. Ring 4ds, join N, 12ds, picot N, 4ds
  8. Repeat step 6, step 7, step 6, step 7, and step 6 (total of 5 short chains so far)
  9. Ring 4ds, join N, 8ds, picot B, 4ds, picot N, 4ds
  10. Chain 4ds (total of 6 short chains)
  11. Ring 4ds, join N, 8ds, picot N, 8ds
  12. Chain 8ds, join A, 4ds
  13. Ring 8ds, join N, 4ds, picot N, 8ds
  14. Chain 12ds
  15. Repeat step 13, step 14, step 13, step 14, and step 13
  16. Repeat entire pattern from step 2 onwards

Note that the picture at the top of the page has a few extraneous picots on the left-hand side; I was still working out the construction when I started this piece, but settled it pretty quickly and the piece is otherwise good.

thistle_drafts (1024x678)I’ve mentioned before that I generally avoid making decorative picots, since tatting with only structural picots is a lot more likely to be machine-washable than with decorative picots—the decorative picots crumple in the wash and look terrible, and are hard to straighten out again. On the other hand, pieces festooned with decorative picots can be strikingly lovely, which struck me again when I was working out the construction of this edging. The picture at the right shows some early drafts, where I made a lot of extra picots because I wasn’t sure as I was making it where I would want the joins to be. For the most part in those pieces there are picots every 4ds; if you want to add the decorative picots back in to my pattern, I would add picots every 4ds in every step except 1, 3, 11 and 13 (the rings facing into the lower circles).

blue_drafts (1024x768)I do have to make my usual disclaimer that tatting patterns are fine-tuned for a particular weight of thread, size of needle, and the idiosyncratic style of the crafter. However, due mostly to chance, I started drafting this pattern in size 10 thread with a size 5 needle (blue, at right) and size 20 thread with a size 7 needle (white thread above). The pattern seems to work for both, and my advice for altering it is to start by adding or removing a (chain 4ds, ring 4ds, join, 12ds picot, 4ds) to the upper arc.

Pattern: Tatted tiles

100_0963 (903x1024)Today’s pattern is one of my favorites; it comes from the Encyclopedia of Needlework by Therese de Dillmont, via Project Gutenberg. I love sifting through these old pattern books, which you can find by image-searching for tatting patterns and then clicking the black-and-white pictures; the Antique Pattern Library is another great resource. In particular, this pattern is based on figure 511; I made some alterations including working out how to turn corners and modifying the scalloped edging part a bit. I will also talk about using this pattern as a fractal-tatting motif (see also this post). It is also where I got the inspiration for the headband pattern in this post.

The basic motif is: Ring 6ds, large picot, 6ds; chain 6ds, picot, 6ds;ring 6ds, join to first ring, 6ds; shoelace trick and repeat. By “shoelace trick” I mean tying a single overhand knot with the ball and needle threads, switching their positions, so that the next motif has its rings facing the opposite way than the first motif. In this way you can build up a strip of arbitrary length, like:g4083where the short, thin lines and the small circles are picots (and large picots, respectively); the ovals and arcs are rings and chains. So far so good, and by itself this already makes a nice, small edging. The Encyclopedia suggests making a strip in the desired length, then cutting the thread and making another strip, joining rings to rings and chains to chains along one side, repeating to desired width, and then adding a fancy scalloped edge.

bottom (1024x768)Fancy scalloped edge: Follow the Encyclopedia if you prefer, but I have modified the pattern to omit the non-joining picots. Begin with a Ring 5ds, join to a pair of rings, 5ds. Chain 2ds, picot A, 3ds. Ring 6ds, join to a chain, 6ds, picot B, 6ds, slightly large picot C, 6ds. Chain 3ds, join A, 3ds, join D (omit or picot in first motif), 5ds. Ring 5ds, join C, 5ds; chain 12ds; ring 5ds, join C, 5ds. Chain 5ds, picot D, 3ds, picot E, 3ds. Join a chain to a picot on the wrong side, as follows: either simply pass the needle through the picot, use your fingernails to form a cow hitch in the picot on the needle and pass the needle through, or use the needle to tie a cow hitch in the needle thread on the picot. The first is easiest to do, but if you pull your chains tight it will tend to pull into a smooth curve, whereas you want the chain to bend sharply backwards here; the other two methods are tricky but in my opinion worth it. Chain 3ds, join E, 2ds. Repeat from start. If your strip of edging ends on a pair of rings, finish on a ring 5j5; if it ends on a chain, omit picot B from the large ring, and finish on the first small ring that joins picot C (as shown).

One thing I hate in tatting patterns is cutting the thread and starting a new piece, so the first thing I did with this pattern was figure out how to corner:g3910-1-1It’s a little awkward and requires additional shoelacing, but lies reasonably flat. After you have made however many repeats you want (in my project, this was the height of the purse), finishing with a shoelace, make a ring: 6ds, picot, 6ds. Shoelace again and make a chain: 6ds, picot, 6ds; and a ring: 6ds, join to most recent pair of rings, 6ds; shoelace. Repeat these steps once more, and you are ready to begin working back along the first strip, joining rings to rings and chains to chains.

Constructing the purse proceeds as follows: Make a strip as long as you want the purse to be tall. Corner and build up new rows until you have a piece as twice as wide as you want the purse to be. Finish by joining the last row to the first row, forming a tube. Cut the thread (yes, I know!), and add a top flap by joining the first row to one side of the top edge; if you had more foresight than me you could do this by simply making one side of the bag longer than the other in the first phase of construction, although this forces you to have an even number of repeats in the width. Add a strap by making two long rows, joined at the ends to matching rings and chains in the top corners of the bag. Add decorative scalloped edging on the end of the flap and the bottom of the bag, using the one on the bottom to close the bottom edge, joining into two picots at once.

You may notice a couple things about the cornering: first, it adds a new row on the side that the last pair of rings face; in a flat piece that rasters back and forth this means you will have an even number of whole motifs. Second, the cornering procedure adds a half-motif of width; if you are making a tube you will have to make all the later rows a bit wider than the first, then come back and finish the first row at the very end. In a flat piece, though, you can’t come back and fix it—so we need a new way of thinking about the motif.Instead of the ring/chain/ring/shoelace motif, which is basically a square with the thread entering and leaving at the center of opposite sides, what if we think about a motif of half-chain/ring/shoelace/ring/half-chain? This adds a half-motif at the beginning of the row, and the corner is simply a couple of motifs with an extra shoelace thrown in and doesn’t have to be broken down into its constituent parts. To my mind this is a little harder to see at first, but a lot more elegant than the original motif.text3085-4-3The revised motif pattern is chain 6ds; ring 6ds, picot or join, 6ds; shoelace; ring 6ds, picot or join, 6ds; chain 6ds; with shoelaces between the rings and chains as needed to make the corners. This also makes the motif a square with the thread entering and exiting on opposite corners—which is a much more interesting beast. Fractal diagramSquares that connect on their sides can be tiled in one direction, but squares that connect at their corners can be tiled in two dimensions, and can be tiled fractally. Consider the image at right; the thin lines are the sides of a square motif, the thick lines connect the corners that the threads enter and exit on, and the numbers are the order in which the motifs are made. A large square can be made up of nine smaller squares, and the large square is, again, a square with the thread entering and exiting on opposite corners. The motif has to be altered a little bit to allow cornering, because tatting chains have a natural curve to them, but not by much.

A variant on this fractal pattern can be created by omitting the outside ring on the cornering motifs; I tried this purely because the double-shoelaced ring is a little awkward and doesn’t want to lie flat. The result is:

100_0941 (1024x646)

which started in the top-right corner (omitting the starting half-chain and first ring) and makes a square of 81 motifs (nine blocks of nine motifs) before starting on another (the tail on the bottom left). It makes something of an interesting pattern, but I think in future I will keep the outside rings.

Random note: the pattern I gave has a lot of units of 6ds, and is suitable for smaller threads; if you are working in larger threads, you may want to do 8ds or even more every time I called for 6. The purse is in a nominally size-10 thread, but I think is mis-sized, and using a smaller needle; the flat fractal piece is a more standard size-10 cotton with a #5 needle, and I used 8ds-picot-8ds rings.

Pattern: Two flat edgings

100_0854 (768x1024)

Dramatic lace-trimmed shirt

Today’s pattern is for two flat edgings that are pretty similar, and that I used for two parts of the same garment.

neck_1 (1024x576)

The simpler of the two, shown above, is:

  • Ring 6ds, picot/join to previous motif, 4ds, picot A, 6ds (bottom left full ring of above photo)
  • Chain 6ds, picot B, 6ds, picot C, 6ds
  • Ring 6ds, join A, 4ds, picot/join to previous motif, 6ds
  • Ring 6ds, picot/join to previous motif, 4ds, picot D, 6ds
  • Chain 6ds, picot E, 4ds
  • Ring 7ds, join D, 6ds, picot F, 3ds
  • Ring 3ds, join F, 10ds, picot G, 3ds
  • Ring 3ds, join G, 6ds, picot H, 7ds
  • Chain 4ds, join E, 6ds
  • Ring 6ds, join H, 4ds, picot I, 6ds
  • Ring 6ds, picot J, 4ds, picot K, 6ds
  • Chain 6ds, join C, 6ds, join B, 6ds
  • Ring 6ds, join K, 4ds, picot L, 6ds
  • Chain 5ds, picot, 5ds, picot, 5ds
  • Repeat from beginning, joining to picots L, J, and I in that order

The unused picots in the last chain are for sewing the edging in place.

The other pattern is very similar, but with slightly wider motifs:

band_2 (1024x576) (2)

    • Ring 3ds, picot/join to previous motif, 5ds, picot A, 8ds
    • Chain 3ds, picot, 11ds
    • Ring 8ds, join A, 8ds
    • Chain 5ds, picot B, 6ds, picot C, 5ds
    • Ring 8ds, join A (three rings in one picot), 5ds, picot D, 3ds
    • Ring 3ds, join D, 5ds, picot/join to previous motif, 5ds, picot E, 3ds
    • Ring 3ds, join E, 5ds, picot F, 8ds
    • Chain 5ds, join D, 6ds, picot G, 5ds
    • Ring 8ds, join F, 5ds, picot H, 3ds
    • Ring 3ds, join H, 10ds, picot I, 3ds
    • Ring 3ds, join I, 5ds, picot J, 8ds
    • Chain 5ds, join G, 6ds, picot K, 5ds
    • Ring 8ds, join J, 5ds, picot L, 3ds
    • Ring 3ds, join L, 5ds, picot M, 5ds, picot N, 3ds
    • Ring 3ds, join N, 5ds, picot O, 8ds
    • Chain 5ds, join K, 6ds, join B, 5ds
    • Ring 8ds, join O, 8ds
    • Chain 11ds, picot, 3ds
    • Ring 8ds, join O (three in one), 5ds, picot P, 3ds
    • Chain 3ds, picot, 3ds
    • Ring 3ds, join P, 6ds, picot Q, 3ds
    • Chain 3ds, picot, 3ds

Repeat from beginning, joining to picots Q and then M.

The four unused picots, again, are for attaching the edging.

Rules of thumb for these patterns:

  1. Most of the elements are a total of 16ds; those that aren’t are modified to make the piece lay more flat.
  2. Chains connect to chains and rings to rings in all cases; you should never use the shoelace trick or twist the work.

These pieces were done in size 40 thread and a size 8 needle; if you are using different size materials, you may need to alter the pattern to make it lay flat. My rules for altering these patterns are: except the 3-6-3 small ring in the second pattern, don’t change the sizes of rings or move their picots/joins around; any chains that are currently the same length should stay the same length as each other.

The shirt is Simplicity pattern 3750, with the sash/tie end replaced by a wide ribbon and lace, and more lace added to the neck. The fabric is a charcoal gray with lighter-gray curlicue patterns; the lace is made with charcoal-colored #40 cotton thread, and the ribbon is a lighter gray. Because the neckline lace is not tacked down at the top, this isn’t entirely machine-washable; I can machine-wash it and dry it hanging upside-down with weights (crochet hooks!) in the top loops of the neckline lace, but if I try to machine-dry it or dry it flat without weights, the neckline lace crumples up. The sash lace is tacked to the ribbon thoroughly enough—at top and bottom—that it doesn’t need special treatment.

100_0858 (768x1024)

I finished this blouse in October of last year, so its debut was at a Halloween party, and boy does it go well with a witch hat.

Pattern: Cartouche edging

blouse_4 (1024x768)

Shoulder detail of peasant blouse with tatted lace edging

Today’s pattern is a lot less complicated than the last one. It’s a basic, somewhat large edging suitable for fine thread.

Difficulty: I will assume comfort with basic tatting, including rings, chains, picots, joins, etc. This pattern also requires swapping threads/switching shuttles; if you search for “tatting switch shuttles” or “tatting shoelace trick” you can find a tutorial in the medium of your choice, but I’ll describe it in brief. The goal is to exchange the positions of your two threads so that chains will curve in the opposite direction; the easiest way I know to do this is to tie one overhand knot, like the first part of tying shoelaces (thus, “shoelace trick”). There are two ways to tie this knot–which thread goes over the other first–and I recommend trying both to find which one lays more flat.

This edging is a series of cartouche or cocoon shapes, each of which is symmetric and joins to its neighbors in four places. Each cartouche is a series of rings, all of which take the form “Ring: N ds, picot/join, N ds, picot/join, N ds, picot/join, N ds”; I will abbreviate this as an “N-ring”, so a “5-ring” is R5j5p5p5. With the exception of the first 4-ring in every cartouche, the first picot/join of each ring is a join to the last picot of the previous ring; in the first ring it’s a decorative picot. The second picot/join in each ring connects across the cartouche to another ring of the same size.

Cartouche: 4-ring, C4j4, 5-ring, C5j5, 6-ring, C6j6, 7ring, C12, 4-ring, C12, 4-ring, C12, 4-ring, C12, 7-ring, C6p6, 6-ring, C5p5, 5-ring, C4p4, 4-ring, shoelace, C5p5, shoelace, repeat from start (where C=chain, j=join, p=picot). The last four rings connect by their second picot/join to the first four rings in reverse order. The three 4-rings in the middle of the pattern all connect to each other by their second picot/join; make the second picot in the first of these rings a little extra-large, and then join both of the other two rings to it. On the chain side of things, the C4j4 connects to the C4p4 in the previous cartouche, and so on, so for the first cartouche you make, make picots rather than looking for something to join to.


Diagram of joins and such for a single cartouche


Three cartouches in series

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Section of cartouche edging lace

Note that this edging has a substantial curve to it. It is also quite large–using size 40 thread and and #8 needle, the edging is 1.75 inches wide. I used a variegated off-white/natural color thread, and combined it with unbleached muslin to make a peasant blouse. The unjoined picots at the top are used to sew it down; I also sewed down the center of each cartouche to make it more resilient to washing, with the result that it actually machine-washes and -dries without getting badly mangled.

100_0575 (1024x900)