Friday, January 30, 2015

Tatting Borders for Handkerchiefs

My grandmother gave me a couple tatting shuttles so long ago that I don't even remember how old I was. I've made a lot of strings of rings, but I've never managed to stay interested long enough to actually finish a tatting project. That changed a couple months ago. I was in an antique shop with my boyfriend, he was looking for hand tools, I was just looking at the beautiful items on display. I found a handkerchief with the prettiest tatted border I had ever seen. I'm a fool, so I didn't take a picture. I am still kicking myself for not buying it. I've got no problem blowing my nose on a hanky or handwashing them later, but I do not like the idea of blowing my nose on something that a stranger has used, no matter who or how many times it's been washed since then. So I walked out without the hanky, but with a sudden desire to make my own.

I've used handkerchiefs for years, but I never thought about actually making them myself or adorning them. I'm not sure why. My personal philosophy is that just because something is meant to be functional doesn't mean it can't also be beautiful. And so I went to my local fabric store. I really wanted handkerchief linen, which they didn't have, but they did have some batiste. Y'all, I am now obsessed with batiste. I want to make everything out of it. I had never worked with it, or really heard of it prior to my trip to the store. I got cotton, although it also comes in cotton/silk blends. It's very lightweight, with an even weave and it is delightfully soft. My nose is so happy.

So I bought a yard, at all of $4.95 and I cut 8 12"x12" squares out of it so that I would have 10"x10" hankies. I decided to go ahead and hem them by hand using a hemstitch. I figured if I was going to tat edges for them I might as well really go all the way and hem them by hand too. I used this tutorial from Little House in the Suburbs to figure out how to actually do the hemstitch because I had never done it before. It came out really beautiful if I do say so myself.

It also took me about three hours per handkerchief. These are labors of love that I blow my nose on. 

So, having completed (all but one) handkerchief I decided it was time to start working on the borders. As previously mentioned I've done a lot of shuttle tatting, but I've never actually finished a project. I decided to do a youtube search to figure out how to attach a border to the hanky. And thus I found RustiKate. First I was a little jealous that she had come up with such an awesome play on our shared name, then I was blown away by how clear and easy to follow her videos are. 

Now, she doesn't shuttle tat, she needle tats. I had never tried needle tatting before, but I liked the idea of tatting directly onto my handkerchief because if nothing else it meant I couldn't get bored with/loose the project before I finished or I would loose my hanky and when you already three hours invested in something you don't want to give it up that easily. 

And so, on the 25th of January I completed my first tatting project.

I thought it would be best to start simple and learn only one or two new skills at a time, so for this handkerchief I just did an easy chain border. This one is just 4ds p 4ds p 4ds p 4ds. Despite it's relative ease I am pleased with how it came out. If I did it again I would space the loops a little further apart but by the time I realized it would look better that way I was already committed. It took me a couple days to finish the tatting, but never worked on it for very long in a sitting.

Having successfully completed that one I'm on to hanky number two. This time I wanted to learn how to make and attach rings, and reverse my work to attach and chain to a ring.

This is what I've done so far, I just started working on it yesterday. This picture also lets you see the hemstitch a little more clearly. Despite having barely started this one I'm already thinking about my next project. Next time I want to learn how to join the picots. Having discovered how quick and easy needle tatting is, I'm not sure I'll ever go back to shuttle tatting, but never say never.