Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Tatting over tails part 1 frontside

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Sewing in ends is arguably the least favorite task of a tatter. The easiest way to avoid this is to tat over the tail ends.
We have plenty of good resources showing us how to accomplish it. See annotated list here. Yes, we can start any element, or add new thread in shuttle tatting without a knot. It is called Tatting Over Tails – basically encapsulating the tail within newly-formed stitches.

All tutorials I have come across so far simply stop tatting over the tail after the first few double stitches – specifically after the 2nd half stitch.

This pictorial is to demonstrate and compare why it is better to leave the tail in the middle of a double stitch, rather than at the end. This holds true for directional tatting - whether one is tatting frontside or backside.

Part 1 illustrates where to leave the tail in frontside ring.
Part 2 will illustrate where to leave the tail in backside chain.
Contrasting colours are used to show the difference. Focus is on the process and concept.

DS – double stitch ; 
FHS – first half stitch ; 
SHS – second half stitch.

 Tatting over Tails 
Part 1 - frontside

In traditional and frontside tatting, FHS is followed by SHS to complete 1 DS.
Frontside tatting : 1DS = (1FHS,1SHS)
Most tutorials simply leave the tail after the 4th or 5th double stitch.
Here the tail will be left after the FHS of 4th double stitch.

1. Blue is the tail to be hidden; orange/pink is thread from the shuttle to start a ring and hide blue tail within.

2. Start ring. 1 DS made encapsulating the tail.
FHS being made, with tail being encapsulated.
Notice the position of the threads within – they tend to remain behind.

3. FHS tensioned.

4. SHS started with tail within.
Notice the position of threads within – they tend to be come in front.

5. SHS tensioned

6. I stopped tatting over the tail after 4DS and 1FHS ; then continued to complete with 1SHS and 1DS. Thus 6DS made in all.
Tail is not visible in front

7. Now, IF I had stopped tatting over tail after 5 DS ie. after a SHS, this is how the tail would look – it emerges from the front !

Compare #6 & #7

 8. Tail hidden and ring completed as viewed from front.

9. the same when seen from the back. 

These last few pics clearly show how the tail automatically stays at the back of the work when we stop tatting over it after a first half stitch in traditional or frontside tatting, whether it is a ring or a chain or any other element.

Backside tatting over tail on a chain will be published in next post.
Do try it for yourself, and see the difference.
This is the way I like to do it and it works for me. Hopefully some of you will find it useful, too.

happy tatting always :-)


  1. Yeah, I accidentally discovered this and have done it ever since.

    1. Serendipity, Jane :-) Wouldn't have expected anything less from you :-)

  2. I tat over all the beginning threads and sew in the ends at the end.
    I am sure beginners would appreciate a PDF

    1. Ditto, Margaret ! Ever since Carollyn shared her whip stitch video, I have started sewing in the ends, too. For the rest it has always been tatting over tails.

  3. I tat over tails for the whole element (a complete ring or chain) --and then cut the thread, so the ring or chain is the same thickness throughout. Makes it easier to play with colour.

    1. Another lovely idea ! I used to have that uneven thickness problem earlier, Michelle, now I make sure I tat the tailed stitches just a bit tighter than usual. Also I find the tatted-over chain is not as arched as the others.
      But I will definitely give your tip a try. Thanks for sharing :-)

  4. Yes, the thickness could be an issue with tiny thread size, I do the same here but not always in fact I use the method described by Sharon Briggs very often. (Sorry I think that pic 7 should have been marked as backside instead?)

    1. I remember Sharon's tutorial, Ninetta! Yes, it is indeed nice. Must visit it again to refresh my memory :-)
      Pic 7 is actually only for comparison - to show how the tail would appear IF we would stop after a complete stitch instead of in the middle of stitch. But yes, I shouldn't have numbered it - it can cause confusion. Fortunately, in pdf I did not number it.

  5. I love the way you describe with pics Muskaan. And your pictures are just amazing. What phone do you use? Mine aren't half as clear. :(

    1. Thank you, Madhur :-) There should be no dearth of tutorial options coz everybody learns differently - hence this format. My Samsung smart phone dates back to the pre-selfie era when there was only a single camera with high resolution. And I have forbidden anyone to swap it for a new one Until I can get the same resolution in a new phone ;-P

  6. I like that you did share this with us, but next time, can you have two different color threads, one for the core thread and one for the working thread instead of a verigated thread... especially in picture 4. Thanks!

    1. Many thanks for your feedback, Sherri ☺🌹💙
      This part is for hiding ends in a ring, hence using 2 colours would only complicate & confuse. This variegation , however, helped provide that contrast.
      In part 2, where I showed the method on chain, 2 different have been used.