, , , ,

One of the things I love about tatting is how inexpensive it is. Unlike quilting, where there is always a new ruler to buy, or a cutting device you didn’t know you needed, or some fabric you can’t live without, in tatting there is comparatively little to buy. Sure, you can stock up on threads or pattern books, or splurge on fancy antique shuttles, but even the most spendthrift tatters soon find that, compared to most crafts, there just isn’t that much to buy.

So, you ask me, “As a beginning tatter, what should I buy? What do I need?” I’m so glad you asked. Here is a shopping list of your basic tatting tool kit. This will get you started, so you can practice along with the Absolute Beginner tatting tutorials. You’ll need:

  • 2 Shuttles, preferably different colors or styles, so you can tell them apart. A note on choosing shuttles:  There are many shuttles available, with a few different features. Some shuttles have hooks on them or bobbins in the middle, but these are a bit more difficult to work with. For beginners I suggest Clover or Boye’s basic plastic shuttles, which are sold in packs of two for around $5.

You can also make your own interim shuttles from cardboard, a plastic yogurt lid, or similar with this handy, downloadable template. Make 2 Shuttles in 2 Minutes for 2 Cents.

  • 2 Balls of “crochet cotton” thread, size 10 or 20.  To see your knots transfer, pick any 2 different colors of the same brand and size, though I’d avoid black as it blends into itself, making it difficult to see individual stitches. I prefer DMC Cebelia or Lizbeth brands for their smooth texture.  A note on choosing threads:  Tatting uses “crochet cottons,” which are basically really thin yarn. Sizes are numbered by tens from 10 to 80, with the larger numbers being thinner thread. Size 80 is tiny (not much thicker than sewing thread) and is called “tatting thread.” Sizes 10 or 20 are good sizes to learn with as you can see your work more easily. Balls of thread run around $4 to $6 each.
  • 1 Pair of small scissors. For cutting thread.
  • 1 Very small crochet hook, size 10 or close (unnecessary if your shuttle has a hook built-in). Note: “very small” refers to the hook size, not the length of the handle. There are tatting crochet hooks that have very short handles, and these are handy for hanging on a chatelaine, but standard length crochet hooks work just as well. Either should cost around $3.
  • 1 Seam ripper, tapestry needle, or similar. Optional, but handy for picking out stitches. $1 to $2.

Assuming you have a pair of scissors lying around, the rest should cost you about $20. That’s not a big investment to try out a new craft.

If you want to get a book too, I recommended “The Complete Book of Tatting” by Rebecca Jones. It is simple and clear and covers a lot of topics so will be a good resource even after you master the basics.

“That’s not too bad,” you exclaim happily, “but where do I get all that?” Never fear, fledgling tatter. There are ways.

I suggest looking at your local craft supply stores, including any sewing or quilting shops, as they might have a small selection of shuttles and thread. There are also several online shops which have a great selection of everything you will need to tat to your heart’s content. I recommend Handy Hands and Be-Stitched, with a few other shops in the links on the right column, under “My Favorite Shops.”

So, grasshopper, are you ready to go shopping? With a few basics, all of which you can hold in one hand, you can tat your brains out. But please don’t.


This post is part of a series of Absolute Beginner Tatting Lessons. Go back to the previous lesson, How to Make the Double Stitch for Lefties, or jump ahead to the next lesson, How to Tat a Ring.

Spoiler Alert: my first giveaway will be early next week, so check back!