Friday, July 16, 2010

Tutorial: Cheap & easy plastic tatting shuttles

Here's a quick tutorial for how to make your own tatting shuttle, if you should ever need one in a hurry :) 

They are not quite like the shuttles you buy in a store, but they do work (I have tested them myself). You might need to get used to using a shuttle like this, because it is just a single "blade" and therefore has no bobbin to hold the thread out of the way while you tat. The thread also tends to get caught in the slits on the sides, but you'll get used to that, too, and soon you learn how to avoid it :) These shuttles can be made in card instead of plastic, but they are probably a lot less durable than the plastic ones.

What you'll need:
A plastic lid or box of some sort (thicker than paper, but thin and soft enough to cut with scissors)
A sharp knife
Glue (optional - if you want to glue two pieces together to make a thicker shuttle)
The shuttle:

Start with cutting off edges and bends of the plastic you're using - it's easier to cut out the right shapes when you are working with a flat sheet of plastic:

Cut out one or two shapes (or more, depending on how many shuttles you want), in whatever shape or size you prefer :) It's no big deal if the parts are not identical if you intend to glue them together - just hold the pieces together and cut away the edges that stick out. 

When you are happy with your shapes, use the hole-punch to make two holes in the shuttle. Exact placement of the holes is not that important, just make sure you make them far enough from the edge to avoid cracking the plastic.

Next, cut slits in the shuttle from the edge to the holes - these are the grooves needed to wind the thread onto the shuttle, so make sure they are wide enough to fit the thread you plan to use :)

If you think the edges are rough, too pointy or uneven, use the knife to round off the corners and smooth out the edges to prevent the thread from catching and fraying when you use the shuttle.

Finally, glue two (or more) pieces together if you want a sturdier shuttle. I found that a single sheet of plastic was strong enough, but thinner sheets might need to be glued together. Wait for the glue to dry completely, cut/scrape away any edges left by the glue, and the shuttle is ready for use :)

Wind some of your favorite thread onto the shuttle and you're good to go :D


  1. That's nifty! Perfect tutorial for the tatter in need or the wannabe tatter in need!
    ~TattingChic ♥

  2. i lost my tatting shutle. it is not available in my place . thanks for your idea.

  3. Thank you so much for this great idea. While i was waiting for my tatting shuttle to be shipped it was a great tool for practice :)

  4. thank you so much! ive been looking for ideas, i want to take up this lost art and downloaded a how-to book, but the shuttles aren't sold ANYWHERE, this was great!

  5. thanks for the idea of the shuttle. I now have to learn to tat.

    1. Tatting Teacher-Winter Garden, Florida

  6. Very helpful and it generates new ideas in my mind...

  7. I'm going to try using this instead of bobbins for Kumihimo. Thanks

  8. You could also use polystyrene plastic (recycle #6). Cut it out of either plastic containers or Shrinky Dinks sheets. Heat in the oven or a blow dryer on high use a heat gun. It will melt and shrink to about 5/8 size so account for it ahead of time. An added benefit is that it will thicken and harden. You can color it before shrinking with permanent Sharpie pens too. Thanks for your great idea.

  9. Fantastic idea, I have loved all types of cards since a young child. I crochet and make jewellery. I found a couple of old ratting shuttles in a charity shop and just finding out all about tatting

  10. I'm so sorry a couple of spelling mistakes in my post above, I type fast "cards" is crafts "ratting" is tatting. Genuine mistake thanks for ur understanding

  11. Very good tutorial. Thank you for sharing.

  12. what a brilliant way to start a tutorial by getting people to make their own first shuttle. Wish I`d thought about teaching people to make their own shuttles before I taught tatting it`s a lot more personal and it`s easy if tatting shuttles are difficult to get your hands on. I`ll be making some for myself the amount your can make are endless



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