August 2010

What is the Tambour Work?

Tambour Work — also called Tambour Lace, Tambour Crochet or Tambour Embroidery — was very popular in the Far East, India and Persia in the 1500s. It was introduced to Europe in the 18th century and was very popular until the early 20th century.

The name Tambour means drum in French. The reason for this name is that the fabric is pulled taut in a round frame resembling a drum leaving both hands free to work on the fabric. The tool to use is a hook similar to a crochet hook with a sharper point so that it could be inserted into the fabric easily. The thread is held underneath the fabric in one hand then it is pulled to the surface with the hook to create a loop. The hook is inserted into the fabric again and passed through the previous loop to create a chain similar to a crochet chain. Repeating the process produces beautiful shapes on the fabric. This process needs a lot of practice. A professional worker can make same size chains. It is believed that Tambour Work was the basis of crochet that creates chains in the air.

The oriental samples of Tambour Work are done with different color thread to produce beautiful floral scenes. In Europe, Tambour Work was done with white thread on white fabric.

The fabric commonly used for Tambour Work was a fine Muslin. Later in England, Tambour Work was done on a net creating a lace effect which was called Tambour Lace. It fell out of popularity early in the 20th century.

Tambour Work is becoming popular again. You can find many Internet stores providing Tambour hooks and other equipment with instructions to use them.

For more information check out: http://www.bellaonline.com/articles/art67103.asp

And for Tambour Hooks, check out: http://www.lacis.com/catalog/data/AB_EmbroideryTambourWork.html

Nazanin S. Fard

Needlecraft University

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