Tambour embroidery is a hooked embroidery stitch worked using both hands: the right hand holds the tambour hook and the left hand holds a line of thread beneath the fabric. The needle is pushed through the fabric, catches the thread, pulls a loop of it back through the fabric and then through the end of the previous loop to create a continuous line of chain stitch. From the reverse side, there is a short line where each stitch has been made, and a small gap between each stitch.
* Tambour work has been known of for many centuries, traded from at least as early as the 14thC along the oldest trading routes from China through India, Persia, Turkey and into Europe.
* The fabric is kept taut and in place in a tambour frame–a pair of deep concentric rings, basically a free standing embroidery hoop that resembles the tambour drum in shape.
* The embroidery is worked onto fine cotton muslin, cambric, silk gauze, light cotton, heavy cotton linen and also wools to make rugs.
* The tambour hook is as fine as a sewing needle with a crochet hook at the end, which, like sewing needles, varies in size according to the project; it is called an ari in India and Kashmir.
* The designs are worked with flowing lines of chain stitches which either reverse and turn to fill the leaves and floral or other motifs, or remain as outlines filled in with other stitches.
* This work is perhaps most familiar to us as a form of crewel work, with woollen stitches worked onto a heavy cotton back, popular for country curtains, bedcovers and floor rugs.
*We may know it as tambour lace, crewel work, sprigged muslin, and suzani…
* Suzanis from Uzbekistan are worked with tambour chain stitch and bukharan couching.