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Monday, March 20, 2017

Stiffening beaded tatting

This is a continuation of my previous post, in which I tested out different methods of stiffening tatting. I received a comment asking if anyone had tried fully submerging a piece of beaded tatting into a stiffener, and how that would turn out. Luckily, I had a few tatting scraps to test this on: one with beads and one with a metal filigree finding.

I decided to use Mod Podge Stiffy because it is my favorite of the fabric stiffeners that I tried. I poured the stiffener into a plastic cup and submerged the tatting in it for a few minutes. Afterwards, I took the tatting out and blotted it really well with a paper towel. I made sure to remove any excess stiffener that had gotten onto the finding and beads. I let the tatting dry overnight on a paper plate wrapped in plastic wrap.

Here are the results. The heart had a lot more substance to it, so it turned out a little stiffer than the small beaded sample.

I didn't notice any stiffener stuck to the metal filigree finding. Even though the tatting was blotted really well, it still maintained the same level of stiffness as my previous tatted samples using Mod Podge Stiffy. I guess the stiffener really soaked into the fibers.

Here's another picture of the back of the filigree finding. I think the color abnormalities are just part of the finding, and not the fabric stiffener:

I tested the stiffener on a small beaded sample as well. If anything, maybe the beads became a little duller after the process? It's hard to tell as I forgot to take a picture of the tatting before it was stiffened.

Again, there is no residue left on the beads and the tatting is fairly stiff. This one didn't have as much substance so it's not quite as stiff as the tatted heart.

Overall, I'd say this product works really well and as long as you are careful to blot out the excess stiffener, it shouldn't interfere with beaded tatting. However, I would suggest running a test before using it on something you like, just to be sure!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Testing out Fabric Stiffeners

I managed to find a few different products to test out as stiffeners. That giant pile of tatting in the front contains my scraps from designs gone wrong...I guess that's what happens when you create patterns for a few years. All of those scraps definitely came in handy for this experiment though!

When testing out the stiffeners, I tried to choose light and dark colors, as well as one larger piece of tatting. The stiffening mixtures were prepared in plastic cups or bowls, and I let the tatting soak for a few minutes before removing it and blotting with a paper towel. I then set the tatting to dry overnight on a paper plate that had been covered in plastic wrap.

All in all, the stiffeners were much more similar to each other than I had expected. I really thought that some of these would turn out badly, but they all ended up being viable methods for stiffening tatting.

The first one I tried was Elmer's glue mixed with water. Instructions online say to mix about half glue and half water.

On my first attempt, I put way too much water in the mixture and not enough glue. The stiffened tatting really wasn't stiff at all. It was almost as if I had blocked it with plain water. So, I tried again, making sure to put much less water and much more glue. It helped a lot, but the glue + water mixture is still the least stiff of all of the options that I tried. Here's a photo of the stiffened tatting:

I didn't notice any whitening of the tatting, even when using this on black thread. Maybe a little duller than untreated tatting, but you'd have to really stare at it to notice.

The next stiffener I tried was Mod Podge mixed with water. I chose the "matte" finish because I didn't think that glossy would work well. I didn't find any recommendations for Mod Podge, but I'm familiar with using it to seal finished puzzles and I really like the product.

The Mod Podge was much easier to mix with water than the Elmer's glue. However, like the Elmer's glue, I underestimated the amount of Mod Podge and had to go back for a second trial to increase the proportion. The resulting tatting turned out fairly stiff, and the color remained mostly unchanged. There is a very slight dulling of the black thread that is really difficult to see.

Overall, this turned out pretty well, and I might even be able to use Mod Podge by itself, without mixing any water in (though I haven't tested this yet).

The third stiffener I tried was Mod Podge Stiffy, a fabric stiffener. This ended up being my favorite of the group.

The mixture is already made for you, so you don't have to add water. However, you can add water if you'd like to dilute it. This stuff really works and the tatting was very stiff after drying. Perfect for a tatted box.

The one mistake I made with the fabric stiffener is that I didn't blot it out enough afterwards. It started to pool a little bit and left residue on the finished tatting. I tried it a second time and made sure to blot the tatting really well. This worked for me, and I didn't see any residue after it dried. The black thread is a tiny bit dull, but again, it's hard to see unless you compare it with untreated black thread and look very closely.

The last stiffener I tried was corn starch mixed with water. I followed a recipe found on this website (click here).

With this recipe, the tatting didn't turn out as stiff as I would have liked, but it would still work well on snowflakes and other tatting. (I just want mine really stiff because I'm making a box).

I tried making a new corn starch mixture with a lot less water, but it ended up turning into a gelatin. I still used the gelatin to stiffen the tatting, and it was near impossible to blot out. It also dulled the color, as you can see in this photo.

This was initially the same shade of pink, which turned much lighter with corn starch (left) and retained its original color with Mod Podge Stiffy (right).

I think I'll save these tatted samples in ziplock bags so I can get an idea of how the stiffeners hold up over time. I'm wondering if any of them will start to yellow or make the colors of the thread fade.

For my tatted box, I've decided to use Mod Podge Stiffy, and I've already bought a styrofoam block to use as a form. I just have to cut the block to make it the right size and then find the time to stiffen the tatting, probably this weekend. After that, maybe I can start designing a lid?

Update: Click here to read a post about stiffening beaded tatting

Friday, March 3, 2017


I haven't had the chance to go to the store to buy any stiffening products for my tatted box yet. Maybe I'll have some time this weekend to test out some glues and other stiffeners on my tatting scraps. I've got a box full of scraps so I have plenty to work with.

I did manage to finish some other experimental tatting, similar to the "Braids" found in Mary Konior's books. I've always wondered how she designed these patterns and wanted to try it out myself to see if I could understand how it was done. These are pretty basic and were put together last night as a test:

They are my own little designs and I've tried to emulate Mary Konior's style. I'd like to experiment more to see what other things I can come up with. I also noticed that Mary Konior uses ring formations to make tatted squares and hexagons. I think that would be worthwhile to look at as well.

In other news, Billy turned 10 on Tuesday (February 28). That's about 80 in human years! Here he is with a cupcake. We don't allow him to eat them but luckily he had no interest in it anyways :)

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Box and Bookmark

I finished the first stage of the tatted box from last week, and it will definitely need to be stiffened. Thank you for all of the suggestions on stiffening in the comments of my previous post. I'm going to look through them in more detail and see what products I can find at the store.

The box is difficult to photograph, so I put a few shuttles in it to help see the dimensions. These are old German Silver tatting shuttles that I bought on eBay a while ago:

Here's another view from the side. Although the walls stay upright, they are wavy. If the box is picked up by one of the sides, it will collapse because it has no rigidity.

The next step will be blocking and then stiffening the box. I want to try using card stock to create a box form, to block and stiffen the tatting on. I'm hoping that wrapping the card stock in plastic wrap will prevent it from getting wet. If that doesn't work I'll have to find a small Tupperware or something at The Container Store that I can use as a mold for the tatting. If that goes smoothly, then maybe I can design a lid for the box as well.

I also had the chance to test out criss-crossed picots in the bookmark from a few posts back. I ended up scrapping the idea because the crossed picots don't add anything of value to the bookmark design. I think they would work better in a pattern with larger open spaces.

Anyhow, the pattern for the bookmark and variation has been added to my Etsy shop. Here's a photo of the two bookmarks together and a link for the listing.

Two Bookmarks pattern Click Here

Friday, February 17, 2017

An Experiment

I wonder how it will look if I attach these two repeatable squares together to make a small box. The smaller squares would go around the larger square, so I'd need eight of them.

I've never done any three dimensional tatting before, so this will be an experiment for me. It will give me the chance to see how well (or poorly) tatting holds its shape on its own. I'm sure I will need some kind of stiffener for the finished box. Does anyone have any recommendations on how to stiffen tatting?