Tambour: A Dying Art

Tambour, Tambour Hook, Equipment, Sequins, Hook, Beading, Beads, Embroidery
Natasha Searls-Punter

Natasha Searls-Punter

With the launch of the Summer Season of Classes, we thought we would share a little with you about the little known art of Tambour.

Hawthorne and Heaney for Claire Barrow

Tambour refers to how tight the fabric has to be pulled over the frame, from from the french for drum. It is also known as Haute Couture embroidery, Broderie Chainette (chain embroidery) or Broderie de Lunéville after the region where the Tambour hook was first used in the 19th Century so if you hear any of those terms, they’re all talking about the same thing. Working with this specialist hook, a chain stitch is created by pulling and looping the thread through the fabric from behind. Depending on the fabric the embroiderer often can not see the right side of the work which makes it more difficult as you have to trust your placement. Tambour beading is probably the most commonly known use of this technique, it can also be used for sequins too or just create a chain stitch effect.

Hawthorne and Heaney for Kanye West

Although Tambour beading is fiddellier to master than beading with a threaded needle, the technique does makes covering an area much faster which is why it is prefered by haute couturiers. This is because you work straight off the spool with the beads already threaded onto so there is no need to pause between stitches. Both hands are required for tambour beading, one for holding the hook and one for controlling the thread/beads so a seat frame, table clamp frame or balancing the frame between two trestles is necessary.

This unusual technique has become less and less popular with the rise of machine embroidery and the need for super fast turn arounds which alienates timely techniques like Tambour, however if you’d like to join the very small community of Tambour beaders then you can learn how to with the London Embroidery School.

As we may have mentioned earlier we also have a brand new tambour class for the already keen tambourer, Tambour with Feathers! We wanted to push your tambour skills a little bit further and introduce a tricky material to the technique. The images below show the pretty effects we will be teaching in the class that can be created with Tambour principals.

Booking now open!

Beginners Tambour Course

Tambour with Feathers

Tambour Refresher Class

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