Even if we don’t recognise the term for tambour lace, most of us have heard of sprigged muslins, the 18C summer dress fabric of many a period drama.

A lace made of chain stitch worked with a tambour hook on a muslin or fine net fixed onto a deep round embroidery frame typically held between the knees called a tambour, so named after the tambour drum that it resembles. It is also known as broderie de chaînette, double Kensington stitch, Tamber, Beauvais stitch, and rather less imaginatively, hooked-needle embroidery.

* Tambour embroidery is believed to have existed in the Middle and Far East in the 14thC, from where it reached Europe around 1760.

* Following the Napoleonic wars the supply of French lace dried up, and in response an Italian, Luigi Ruffini, set up a workroom near Edinburgh in 1789 to produce his sprigged muslins and flower muslins, which became the very height of fashion, in what we think of as Jane Austen’s era.

* In the 18thC, tambour lace making was also a very popular leisure occupation–ladies liked to be seen making lace to show off their domestic skills and finely manicured hands, there is even a portrait of Madame de Pompadour showing her making tambour lace.

* In the 19thC, machine-made tambour lace was made extensively in Ireland, Scotland, Germany England and Switzerland, and was famously applied to lacemaking in France by Louis Ferry in Luneville, now known as the Point de Luneville.

* Swiss sprigged muslins remains of the finest quality, and make for very beautiful under curtains, blinds, bed drapes, dressing table covers and lampshades.

* Other names are Broderie de Chainette, double Kensington stitch Tamber, Point de Luneville, Beauvais stitch and, rather less  imaginatively, hooked needle embroidery.

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