Tambour is made with a
fine hook which either pierces the fabric or
picks up a thread from behind and draws the loop to the front. The next
stitch repeats this process and the resulting stitch resembles a chain. It
may often referred to as a chain stitch.
by Jenny DeAngelis of Spain
Tambour lace in general came from the Orient where a round frame, or Tambour ( like a drum) was held between the knees and a type of muslin fabric was stretched over the tambour and the stitches were formed with needle and thread on the muslin.
In the county of Essex in England there is
a village called Coggeshall where during the 19th. century, a form of Tambour
Lace was worked both there and in the villages round about. This
continued into the early part of the
Coggeshall lace is worked over cotton net using a tambour hook and belongs to the family of laces made by embroidering net. In Coggeshall lace the net is stretched over the frame, which in Coggeshall was traditionally rectangular. The frame leaves both hands free to work the lace. These days Coggeshal lacemakers tend to use embroidery hoops or tapestry frames.
Sheeting is stretched over the frame
first then the net is attached over the sheeting with fine lace pins and
the sheeting behind the net is cut away leaving a net covered hole.
The stitches are worked with a special Tambour
The tambour hook has a little barb on it similar to a fish hook and can cause injury if not used with care. There is a knack to using the tambour hook which can be a little difficult to master but once this is practised for a while the worker can get up quite a rhythm.
Once the net is stretched over the frame the pattern, drawn on paper, is attached to one edge of the net hole on the undeside so that it can be brought up under the net and then dropped again. The pattern is used as a guide and is just brought up under the net now and then as work progresses. Using a stilleto the holes in the net can be enlarged to mark out the lines of work to be followed.
The thread is placed on the floor, these days a plastic pot with a lid which has a hole in it is used to hold the thread and keep it clean. The worker works with one hand underneath the frame which holds the thread and the other hand holds the hook on top of the net. The end of the thread is brought up through one of the holes in the net using the hook and the work proceeds with small chain stitches. The only stitch in Coggeshall lace is Chain Stitch and everything else is a variation of this basic stitch. There are many variations to be used as filling stitches once the outline has been marked out in small chain.
A Coarse thread is used to form the outline of the designs elements, i.e. Flower petal edges etc., then a finer thread is used to fill in the centres using the various filling stitches. During the early 1900s. the fashion was for bead and sequin embroidered net and the workers of Coggeshall adapted their skills to cope with this change in demand.
Sadly it all came to nothing. The art of coggeshall lacemaking all but disappeared the net disappeared as did the tambour hooks, until one lady, Jean Dudding, revived the art and wrote three booklets on the craft and it's history, the first one published in 1976. She ran classes to teach others this lovely lace and now the cotton net and tambour hooks are available once again.
There is a place in Belgium called Lierse where a similar
type of Tambour lace is still made called Lierse
Kant, a book has also been written on this type.
See more on Coggeshall Lace
you can buy supplies here " Lacis" (go to bottom of page)
return to Lace ID