How to Tat a Flower for Beginners

Learning this process for the first time may take an hour to an hour and a half. With some practice, later flowers will probably take only half an hour or forty-five minutes to tat.

Terms (each time one of these terms appears in the document, it is italicized):

  • Stitch. The basic stitch is comprised of two loops that form a V-shape.
  • Picot. A small (often decorative) loop formed by a gap between two stitches.
  • Chain. A row of stitches that have been tied off. Also called an arc.
  • Ring. A chain that has been joined to make a circle.
  • Petal. Two rings connected by an arc/chain. This pattern has 5 petals.
  • Turn your work. Laying down what you’ve completed so far on a flat surface, then flipping it over so that the threads coming out of it cross.
  • Weave in. A way to hide the loose ends of thread when the piece is completed.


  • Scissors
  • 1 Spool of size 10 thread
  • Size 4 needle (somewhat thick) that doesn’t get too thick at the end (same thickness all the way down). The eye needs to be the same width as the needle, so you don’t have problems with pulling the stitches off later. Some quilting needles will work.

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Step 1: Thread the Needle.

Thread the needle, leaving a 1.5-foot tail. Continue working with the string attached (not cut) to the spool.

Step 2: Position Your Hands.

Pick up the needle in your dominant hand.

Between the needle and the spool, grab the thread with your non-dominant hand with your pinky, ring, and middle finger.

Step 3: Wrap the Thread Clockwise Around Your Thumb.

Make sure the thread crosses above your palm.

Step 4: Hook and Pull the Needle.

Hook and pull the needle through the loop of thread from below on the side nearest your body. Pull it tight against the needle. This is the first half of a stitch (terms in italics are defined in the “Terms” section at the top of the document).

PRO TIP: Keep the stitch on your needle, near the back (do not pull it all the way through). Do not pull your stitches too tightly or too loosely.

Step 5: Wrap the Thread Around the Back of Your Thumb.

Wrap the thread around the back of your thumb (counterclockwise, in the opposite direction of Step 3).

Hook and pull the needle through the loop of thread from below on the side away from your body. You have now completed a stitch.

Step 6: Make 5 More Stitches.

Repeat Steps 3 through 5 until you have 6 stitches. Don’t pull them too tightly or too loosely; they should be snug against the needle.

WARNING: If you do two of the same stitch in a row, pull the second stitch off and continue.

Step 7: Assess Your Stitch Quality.

Stitches that are too tight may be difficult to pull off the back side of the needle when you finish a ring or arc.

Step 8: Leave a Gap, Then Create a 7th Stitch.

After leaving a gap of ¾ of an inch of thread between the 6th and 7th stitch, create a 7th stitch.

Step 9: Create a Picot.

Slide the 7th stitch down to meet the 6th stitch, creating a small loop called a picot.

PRO TIP: When making a picot, use your index finger to stop the stitch and leave thread in between the stitches.

Step 10: Make 5 More Stitches.

Repeat Steps 3 through 5 to make 5 more stitches. Including the stitch that closed the picot, you will have 6 stitches on this side of the picot.

PRO TIP: When making a picot, use your index finger to stop the stitch and leave thread in between the stitches.

Step 11: Make a Large Loop.

Pull the tail through the eye of your needle so that you have a large loop about the size of a golf ball between the eye of your needle and your first stitch, leaving a shorter tail.

Step 12: Pull the Needle Through the Stitches.

Pull the needle through the stitches, pulling the stitches onto the tail.

WARNING: If you pulled your stitches too tightly, you may need to pull them off one at a time.

Step 13: Pull the Tail Through.

Pull on the needle as you hold the most recent stitch you made.

Pull the tail through and keep pulling until you have a small loop of thread at the bottom. The tail should be pulled all the way through.

PRO TIP: If you keep your fingers in the loop, it won’t disappear before you need it.

Step 14: Put Your Needle Through the Small Loop.

Put your needle through the small loop of thread at the bottom (not the picot) and pull the ring closed.

Step 15: Turn Your Work.

Turn your work: lay down what you have completed so far on a flat surface. Flip over your work so that the threads coming out cross.

Step 16: Loop Your Needle.

Loop your needle under the bottom thread and over the top thread.

Step 17: Pull Your Thread Tight.

Step 18: Put Your Needle on Top of the Ring.

Put your needle on top of the ring you just made—the picture may look like the needle goes through the ring, but it only rests on top of it.

Step 19: Make Another Stitch.

Make another stitch by repeating steps 3 through 5 and pull it right up against the ring.

Step 20: Make 9 More Stitches.

Make 9 more stitches by repeating steps 3 through 5.

Step 21: Make a Shorter Picot.

Make a shorter picot by leaving a length of thread about the width of 4 stitches between the last stitch and the next stitch.

Step 22: Make 9 More Stitches.

Make 9 more stitches (repeating steps 3 through 5) on the other side of the picot.

Step 23: Pull the Tail Partway Through.

Pull the tail partway through the needle until there is a large loop and a short tail.

Step 24: Pull the Needle Through the Stitches.

Pull the needle all the way through all the stitches.

Step 25: Make Sure the Tail Is Pulled Through Completely.

WARNING: Make sure the tail is pulled through completely or you will form an unnecessary loop.

Step 26: Pull the Stitches So They Make an Arc.

Step 27: Tie It Off.

Tie it off by repeating steps 15 through 17.

Step 28: Make 6 Stitches.

Make 6 stitches (by repeating steps 3 through 5) right up against the chain or arc you just made.

Step 29: Slide All the Stitches Closer to the Pointy End of the Needle.

Step 30: Join the Chain to the Large Picot.

Put the needle through the large picot on the very first ring you made (the same ring each time you later repeat this step), hooking the thread attached to the ball of thread to create a loop.

Step 31: Slide Your Stitches Back to the Eye End of the Needle.

Step 32: Make 6 More Stitches.

Make 6 more stitches by repeating steps 3 through 5.

Step 33: Pull the Tail Out Until You’re Close to the End of the Tail.

Step 34: Pull the Needle Through the Stitches.

Pull the thread through until there’s just a small loop of thread left.

Step 35: Close Your Ring.

Straighten out the loop and pull your needle through it, tightening the stitches into a ring. You have now made a petal.

Step 36: Tie It Off.

Repeat steps 15 through 17 to tie it off.

Step 37: Make 3 More Petals.

Make 3 more petals (3 more chains and 3 more rings) by following steps 18 through 36 above.

Step 38: Make a Final Chain.

When you’ve finished your fourth petal, make one final chain following steps 18 through 27.

Step 39: Pull the Needle Through a Stitch.

When you have 5 chains and 5 rings, pull the needle through one of the stitches near where the ring and chain of the first petal meet and pull it tight.

Step 40: Turn Your Work and Tie a Knot.

Step 41: Weave in the First End.

Cut the thread from the spool, leaving about three inches from your flower.

You will have two threads that need to be woven in. Start with the thread with the needle on it.

Find where the thread is coming out of the flower. Pull the needle through the closest stitch. Pull the thread all the way through.

Pull the needle through the next stitch as well and pull the thread all the way through.

Step 42: Weave in the Other End.

Pull the needle off the thread and put it on the other thread. Repeat step 41 with the second thread.

Step 43: Finish Your Flower!

Snip each thread as close as you can to where you’ve woven it in.

Step 44: What to Do With Your Flower

You can make earrings, Christmas ornaments, or other decorations with your flower, or continue tatting to make larger work like doilies.

PRO TIP: For a cleaner look, you can starch your flower.

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    2 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I learned to that with a shuttle. Over the years I have acquired a few tatting needles but could not use them properly. Although I probably will not give up my shuttle, I think I can learn to use a needle to that. Thanks.

    This is great. Very detailed and well explained. You should enter this into the "Fiber Arts" contest that is currently running.