Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Tambour Embroidery Project Finished – And a Tambour Hoop & Stand


There was really no reason not to finish the little tambour embroidery project I started night before last.

All told, there are only a few hours of stitching in the piece. I’m still on the learning curve, but even then, chain stitch can be accomplished much faster with a tambour needle, compared to a regular needle. Certainly, a skilled tambour embroiderer could finish this project in at least half the time – probably a lot less!

Tambour Embroidery Project - Autumn Leaves

Yesterday, I showed you my temporary and rather cramped tambour set-up, where I was using a small 4″ hoop clamped awkwardly into the frame clamp on a different stand.

I dug through a bunch of hoops yesterday, until I found one of the 10″ hoops that fits the Lacis table-top tambour stand.

Using the larger hoop on the tambour stand accomplished two things:

1. I could work a little faster – I didn’t have to move the 4″ hoop around anymore, and the frame clamp was no longer in the way.

2. I was able to take pictures of this apparatus, to show you what it’s like, in case you’re looking for something similar.

Tambour Embroidery Project - Autumn Leaves

This is the table top tambour stand and hoop sold at Lacis. This particular hoop was not the original that came with the stand – it was a replacement, after the hardware on the original hoop broke.

The hoop that comes with this particular stand is not the best in the world – the hardware is pretty flimsy and the wood is not very hard – but the stand is pretty handy for a couple reasons.

Tambour Embroidery Project - Autumn Leaves

First of all, it holds just the edge of the 10″ hoop. It doesn’t clamp on the fabric. You can hoop up large pieces and still clamp them into the frame, so that you can work with both hands free.

Whether you’re doing tambour work or just regular surface embroidery, having both hands free increases the speed and comfort of embroidering.

Tambour Embroidery Project - Autumn Leaves

Secondly, the side clamps rotate around, so that you can turn your work and access the back relatively easily, without taking the hoop out of the clamps.

Pros of the Tambour Stand

The pros of the table top tambour frame from Lacis are:

1. It’s relatively affordable, at about $31, which includes the hoop.
2. If you use a large hoop (10″) often, you can hoop up all kinds of larger projects to enjoy having both hands free while stitching.
3. The construction of the stand itself is fairly sturdy.
4. You can rotate the hoop to get to the back of the work.

Cons of the Tambour Stand

1. It is restricted to a thin 10″ hoop – the hoop cannot be smaller or larger than 10″ round, and it assumes the use of a hoop that is 7/16″ thick.
2. The hoop that comes with the stand is rather flimsy. The hardware bends, when tightening with a screw driver. That said, it is not as flimsy as the $1 craft hoops sold in most craft stores. And you can always bind the hoop to provide better tension on your fabric.

If you’re looking for a table top stand similar to this, search “tambour frame” in the Lacis online catalog, and it should come up.

Beware the Floor Stand

Incidentally, they also sell a “sit or stand” floor stand onto which you can attach the holding clamps of the table stand, and use the floor stand with the same hoop. I bought that floor stand about seven or eight years ago when looking for an “affordable” floor stand that would hold hoops, but it wasn’t long before I felt my money had been wasted. I thought it awkward to use, and eventually, the joints began to wear, so that it didn’t tighten up as it should – it got wobbly. I’d say be wary of the floor stand, but, with the exception of the quality of the hoop, the table stand works well for the price.

Tambour Embroidery Project - Autumn Leaves

So, back to the leaves!

Another wonderful aspect of tambour embroidery, especially if you’re working on household linens where the back is exposed to view, is that the back is exceptionally neat.

The chain stitch on the front results in a backstitch on the back. If you’re using spooled thread, and stitching a more or less continuous line, there are not many starts and stops.

Tambour Embroidery Project - Autumn Leaves

This is where I began the stitching, one one side of the corner of the leaf design, and….

Tambour Embroidery Project - Autumn Leaves

…this is where I ended the stitching, at the end of the design around the corner. I never cut the thread once, between these two points.

The loose ends will be run under the threads there, and clipped close, so that they are barely visible.

So that was my quicko tambour project. I’ll see about getting some tutorials and resources together for you soon! In the meantime, I have a couple other projects calling me.

Ahhhh… the Sirens of Embroidery. They’re forever beckoning.

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(17) Comments

  1. I have an Elsn lap stand from Artisan Design which is much like the tambor stand, but can be used on lap or table – the bottom is not flat but has feet which hold it nicely in place on your lap as well as on a table.

    And after about 10 years, the cork wore out so they sent me new cord FOR FREE! No postage, no handling. Amazing, and it is some sort of treated cork or similar, so perhaps it will last even longer.

  2. It looks great! I am amazed at how much was completed so quickly. Your post answers my biggest question which is Hook vs Needle – which chain is fastest. Next question is: does the tambour technique get tiring on the arms? Thank you for the pictures and advice.

  3. Dear Mary

    Well I am now the proud owner of 2 tambour needles which fit perfectly in my prick and pounce needle holder, that was quick. Now to practice this SO interesting embroidery stitch, the last 3 days I’ve practicality done no needlework except watch videos on Tambour embroidery. So on the w/e apart from little things I hope to practice some Tambour. I don’t know whether to invest in a another stand as I already have the system 4 and Millennium frames I shall think on that. I do like the stand above but don’t want to pay good money on not very good equipment, shall think on that. Thanks for the demonstration.

    Regards Anita Simmance

  4. Thanks, Mary, for the into to Tambour. I’ve always been interested in this, and now I think I may try it. I LOVE the idea of a neat back. I have wanted to make a little tea towel for my Mom, but I’ve never been able to get the back looking acceptable.

  5. Thank you so much for all the interesting, detailed information about tambour embroidery. I heard about it, including using beads but it never seemed to be something I wanted to learn. Now you have made it fascinating and learn-able and I wish to try it now. No I NEED to try it now, lol. Thank you so much for all the wonderful, easy to understand information.

  6. Mary, another great set of lessons for your fans!!! You are the best! Please forgive me if you have already answered this, but where did you get your spool holder? It is really great!

    1. Hi, Laura – I found that on ebay, ages ago. I’m pretty sure it’s not a one-off. I think the person selling them was manufacturing them. You might search ebay for “spool holder” and see what comes up! ~MC

  7. Like many others I got “hooked” on the idea of tambour embroidery. Yes I ordered the tambour needle set up from Lacis and yes I ordered the thread from Anita’s Little Stitches. I so love teaching myself new needlework. Can never get enough, thankfully it will be a long, long time before I’ve exhausted the techniques. Thanks Mary!

  8. Now I’m going to have to try some tambour embroidery. And Tanja Berlin’s purple pansy needlepainting class starts today, too………

  9. Hi Mary,
    Just a quick comment on tambour frames. I learned to tambour at Lesage. While I occasionally tambour in a hoop, a slate frame is by far the better choice in my opinion. Better tension and better access to front and back of the project.

  10. Tambour Embroidery looks interesting. You have me very intrigued. Will be waiting with baited breath for the tutorials and resources. Thanks Mary!

  11. Hi Mary,
    Thank you for these posts about tambour work. I have been wondering for while how to go about it.

    This afternoon I have been to the Great Northern (not just) Lace Fair. As the name suggests there is plenty for lacemaking enthusiasts, but enough to attract others to this excellent annual 1 day event. I managed to find a tambour handle and hooks. The man I bought them from told me has sold more of these in the last week than he would expect to sell in a year! I was not the first to suggest it had something to do with you. Gwendoline

    1. Hi Mary,
      In France we call this technique “point de beauvais”. As you say in an another post, the key is “practice, practice and …. practice ! (sorry for my “bad English” ! I love this technique work on my embroidery every day if I can. We work in a motif allway “Counterclockwise” and if you want a beautiful chain the hook must allways turn in the same way.There is exemple at the adress above if you are interest (In french, sorry !)

      Have a good day ! Armelle

  12. This was helpful. I bought the tabletop stand that holds a hoop or scrollbar, but looking for scrollbars that fit, for example, a 11 by 14 is impossible! I might be better off with this product, right?

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