Tips for show entries…things I have learned.

Over the last 2 and a half years I have learned so much about tatting. Mostly because I set the goal of entering some of my work in the Royal Melbourne Show. I find I work well to deadlines and if I am organised I can achieve almost anything. I am a Mum, who works part time and has recently geared up to study part time too. (for more information on this part of my life, have a look at my other blog: My Paperless PhD) I have small pockets of time to myself and it is in these moments that I relax a little by doing my craft.

At the time I entered the show the first time I only had ‘Milford mercerised’ variegated cotton, size 20. I chose a nice doily pattern from a very old book, and allowed approx 4 months to complete the project. Unfortunately variegated cotton showed up all of my beginner errors, including messy ends when sewn in. Also quite sadly 4 months was not enough to complete the chosen pattern, so with 10 days left until I had to take in the piece for judging I improvised a simpler edging. After sewing in all the ends, I read Rebecca Jones’ book and used a solution of diluted PVA glue to stiffen my doily. It was very stiff (and still is).

I learned heaps from this first experience. I started my entry for this year only a week after that show. With 12 months to work on my project I decided I could do 2 projects. I used solid colours. I taught myself to bead (using some brilliant blogs and you-tubes and Rebecca Jones of course), found some up to date methods for hiding ends while working (unfortunately I didn’t know about the end hiding until the first 3 rounds of my green doily were completed, and I think the trailing threads (as suggested in Rebecca Jones’ book) let me down as they were too short to cut and sew in.)  I also discovered Nancy Tracey at Be-Stitched, and a range of bookmarks that were fun. Then I found Jane Eborall’s Sea Horses and learned split rings. I ditched the PVA and found a spray starch. And this time I was finished both entries 2 weeks before the judging occurred. Feeling pretty happy, I dropped in both entries for judging, knowing that I had become a far better tatter because of the challenges I had set for myself and the online community that supports us in our craft. I was then really excited to see that I had gotten third place for one of my entries, have a look at this blog about it.

So, in summary, here are my show hints:

  • Use solid coloured thread, not variegated,
  • Sew in all ends or have a look online to see how to tatt them into your work,
  • If you want to starch, find a light spray starch,
  • Make sure you leave enough time to complete the entry as you want it,
  • Submitting a set of smaller projects can also be a way to learn more varied techniques.

I have now found ‘intatters’ and there is so much information in this community it is truly wonderful. If I had found this 2 years ago, I wonder how my work would have changed, if at all? Looking back I have so loved my journey to learn and now promote this craft, I can hardly wait to see what will come in the future. I do know there are some patterns I am working on that will hopefully fill a void in the ‘free pattern’ market.

Do you have any hints for show entries? Perhaps you have some techniques that really enhance the look of the finished piece? I would love to hear about them.

Happy Tatting!

Fiona T



Filed under Tatting Techniques

7 responses to “Tips for show entries…things I have learned.

  1. Hi Fiona, I’ve recently been thinking about entering my Oya work into the show next year, Since I’ve never entered anything into any sort of show, would you shead some light on the process and requirements and whatnot?

    My email address is:
    and my blog is


  2. Hi Fiona, I know that you have recently purchased some of my 3D patterns. I entered a hat into a local show decorated with my own pansies and fill-in flowers, it wowed the judges so much that I won the catagory that it was entered in, plus a silver rose bowl for the best hand crafted item in the whole of the Staffordshire County Show!

    Perhaps your next entry should include something 3D?


    • Oh Linda, your patterns are marvelous! I am (a) in awe and (b) finally starting to see tatting as a 3D craft. I suppose the last 10 years of so of looking at tatting has been via very old (and no less inspirational) tatting books. I am thinking about my entries for next year and there might just be an Iris or two from your beautiful book. I would love to see a picture of your hat, it sounds lovely.

  3. Pingback: What show judges are ‘looking for’ « One Mad Tatter

  4. Fiona,
    There is a list of suggestions for displaying your lace in my book ‘Contemporary Tatting’.
    Tatting can be classed as ‘traditional’ and ‘contemporary’: perhaps the show indicates this in the schedule. It is advisable not to starch/stiffen your tatting, unless absolutely necessary. Blocking and tension should be sufficient. Cleanliness is paramount, and some shows do not allow your work to be washed.

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