I’ve been trying out some very old embroidery techniques over the past few days. Tambour work was introduced to Europe from India in the mid-eighteenth century, but is not widely in use today as a hand technique. It involves working on fabric stretched in a frame or hoop, with a reel of thread underneath the fabric, and both hands free – one above and one underneath the work. You then use a little hook to pass down through the fabric to pick up a loop of thread from below. Each loop passes through the previous one to create a line of very fine chain stitch on the surface. Tambour hooks come in different sizes, and the hook usually fits into a carved or turned wooden holder. I don’t have a tambour hook (yet!) so I used a very fine (0.6mm) crochet hook for my first attempt:
This sample is worked on plain cotton fabric with hand-quilting thread. The weave is reasonably coarse so the fine crochet hook passed through without too much difficulty. I’ve ordered a couple of tambour hooks so am looking forward to comparing them with the crochet hook.
The wrong side is quite attractive too. You get a very regular set of straight stitches in a row:
This little sample took quite a long time. I dread to think how long it would take to tambour enough fabric for a dress or a set of curtains.