There is some uncertainty about the origins of the tambour hook, opinions varying as to whether it originated in China or India.
Chain stitch can be produced with great speed using the tambour hook. The technique is generally used with a frame (the name tambour comes from the tambour -drum frame). The size of the hook varies according to different work requirements. The hook is put through the fabric, the art silk thread put on the hook, the hook is turned through 90 degrees and pulled up through the fabric to the surface. The hook is then turned back through the 90 degrees (reverse action) to the starting point. The stitching is begun with a knot, a twist in the first chain stitch or a chain stitch worked back on itself. To finish off, the embroiderer makes a couple of chains on the surface through the lead thread, with an action like that used in crotchet. When a line or area of stitches has been completed, and another stitched area is to be worked, a long thread is left trailing from one area to the other on the reverse side of the fabric. The next stitch can be worked away from this new point, starting with a chain stitch. If the next line is some distance away, or a new colour is to be used, the thread is cut.
Cut beads from Sadi, or use beads of choice. shisha, sequins and pieces of sadi may be applied using the tambour hook. They are applied individually to the right side of the fabric.
The hook is disconnected from the thread when a sadi bead or sequin is to be attached. The sadi is pushed high onto the hook, and the hook is then pushed through the fabric to engage the thread in the usual way. When the hook returns to the surface, the thread is pulled through the bead before entering the fabric again to make the next stitch. If the next stitch is to have a sadi piece, the hook is disconnected so that the sadi bead can be placed on the hook.
Always hold the hook straight up and down (vertically) on the top side of your work when you are stitching. The set screw always faces the direction in which you are stitching. The other hand is under the fabric and feeds the thread onto the hook for each stitch.
There are a number of ways to start the work – the two use most often when learning are:
Insert the hook through the fabric, catch up the thread on the underside and pull it through to the right side of your work creating a loop. If you apply a little backwards pressure against the fabric as you bring hook to the topside of your work you will find it less likely to catch on the fabric as you work.
Re-insert the hook through the fabric and repeat the process of catching the thread on the underside of the fabric and bring it back to the working surface and slip the new loop through the old to form the chain.
Continue in this manner until the design area is covered.
To finish off you can either:
When learning this technique you will make it easier on yourself if you work with tightly twisted threads. Once you have become familiar with the technique you will find this an exciting and quick method of embroidery!