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.