Supplies for Beginning Tatters

Generally speaking, if a “newbee” comes to tat with our group, there are enough extra threads, shuttles, needles, books and ideas to share.  However if someone is starting out on their own, the way many of us did “back in the day,”  a listing of supplies to have on hand is certainly in order.  Of course a person will need some sort of idea what project to undertake.


A simple motif is usually the best early goal because these usually involve the fewest techniques and can be accomplished in a few hours.  Many of the early publications offered medallions, edgings and doilies as projects.  Finding an older copy of “Workbasket” magazine or “Old Tyme Needlework” magazine in a thrift shop can be just the information sought.  Searches on the internet for websites such as   Be Stitched    or    D S 9 Designs  or simply launching a google search for free tatting patterns opens a world of simple designs to start with.  Each will suggest the supplies the tatter will need to carry out that design.

Necessary supplies include:


We recommend that a person start with something inexpensive and of at least a size 10 crochet cotton.  Even an older  ball of KnitCroSheen or SpeedCroSheen will work.  These of course are crochet cotton threads but they are large enough that the novice can see the knots they are trying to make.  Other choices that are readily available locally in craft stores are  DMC Perle Cotton in size 5 (largest size usually available).  More modern threads intended specifically for tatting have had the fibers singed so that the fuzzy lil hairs have been burned off and the threads are more slick for sliding the stitches along the core threads or needle.  These are available at outlets like those listed above, at   Handy Hands   or  Tatting Corner  on the web.  Occasionally, Omega threads can be found at craft outlets as well.

Needles or Shuttle:

These are the basic tools of the craft.  Here in Black Mountain, tatting shuttles are available at the local fabric store Carolina Foam and Fabric, as well as at craft outlets like JoAnn’s, A. C. Moore, Michaels, Hobby Lobby.  Again in our area there is a craft outlet known as Earth Guild that carries a few threads, needles and shuttles.  Shuttles come in several configurations of metal, plastic and wood.  Some are flat, some come with bobbins and others have center posts around which the thread is wound.  At first get one that is inexpensive.  You can spend a lot of money on hand-crafted wooden shuttles, but the cheep plastic ones work just as well.  Shuttles are available in various sizes from mini, standard, medium (for beading) to larger shuttles suitable for very large projects.

Needles come in a variety of sizes and need to be matched to the size thread the tatter is using.  Needle tatting techniques are somewhat different from the techniques used in shuttle tatting, but are excellent for persons with arthritis in their hands or persons who cannot quite master the “flip” in shuttle tatting.  The end result is just as beautiful!

2 Responses to "Supplies for Beginning Tatters"

  • I am planning a special gift for an 85-year-old man who used to tat but got out of it. He still speaks nostalgically of his pleasure in tatting. I want to surprise him with some thread and a tatting needle, whatever that is. I’ll try to find some number 10 cotton thread but don’t know anything about a tatting needle. Is there one place in the asheville/black mountain/Hendersonville area where they might have tatting supplies and actually be familiar with tatting?

    1 Tim Reid said this (November 26, 2017 at 7:55 am) Reply

    • Tatting needles were available at Earth Guild on Haywood Street in Downtown Asheville the last time I was in there. Hobby Lobby near the Airport and JoAnn’s may have some as well. I’m not sure what size will work best with # 10 thread, but assortments of as many as 4 needles are available in some packs. Remember to get some sturdy needle threaders as well! Earth Guild has a pretty good selection of DMC perle cotton while Hobby Lobby carries several Lizbeth threads. Best of Luck in your search!

      2 Sally Biggers said this (January 7, 2018 at 9:46 pm) Reply

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