How a new shirt relates to designing


It’s not very often that I buy myself new clothes. So when this offer came from a particular clothing company, I looked through their closeouts and found a top that I thought rather pleasing.  So with my offer and the close-out pricing, there was no way to lose. I bought it.  It’s a little more green than shows up in this image and is very plain.  What an excuse to create my own edging along the hem-stitching at the neckline!  I looked at handkerchief edging, collars, images on the web, old books, new books – nothing seemed to POP.  I had the perfect thread: Lizbeth 179 (Herbal Garden) in size 40, but no edging seemed to work for this gently sloping boat neck.

The old Corticelli book, reprinted along with other patterns as “Tatting: A Potpourri of Patterns” by Barbara Foster of Handy Hands has a lovely edging that attaches to “braid” which oddly enough looks a lot like a length of perle tatting.  Complicated pattern worked on both sides of the perled edging.  Hmmmm…  I worked it for a bit using some old KnitCroSheen thread that was of sufficient size to allow me to see how the pattern worked up.  A difficult pattern with many cut threads, this pattern looked like it was written in the style of a number of older patterns with so many opportunites for alteration, that either a complicated re-write or looking on seemed like my only options.

In group recently, someone asked me when they should begin designing.  This is a loaded question.  Designing may be easy for some people.  It’s harder for others.  Some days, following a well written pattern is challenging enough, let alone trying to perfect something on one’s own.  Pretty soon I realized that a design was going to be my only option if I were going to get the look I was going after. 

Designing requires a pretty thorough knowledge of not only the basic stitches, but also the more complex motifs and how even slight modifications shifts the way the rings and chains look on their own and in relation to each other.  In Sharon Briggs’  Design-Tat course (offered back in 2009, but apparently is no longer available), participants spent a lot of time on just these concepts.  Georgia Seitz offers many wonderful hints and tips throughout her website and offers on-line tatting sessions each week as well as a YouTube Channel featuring all sorts of tatting techniques.  So I started out with a diagram:    My neckline is 12 inches across, which made standard 8 1/2″ x 11″ quadrille paper the perfect basis on which to begin. 

I generally keep some older threads about to use for creating “prototypes” that will allow me to work out the “kinks” of design work.  These threads are usually white or some other color I would not ordinarily use and in somewhat larger thread sizes than usual.  This makes it easier to see what I’m doing and modify the pattern as necessary.  Knowing whether or not beads are going to be involved helps too, for as Georgia points out, planning where and how many beads are desired is essential to the success of the pattern.  I’ll be working with some old discontinued Flora thread and so the color will be bold.  Will keep posting as it develops!

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