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Tutorial 1. Overview of tambour embroidery hooks.

Tutorial 1. Overview of tambour embroidery hooks.

The overview of equipment for tambour embroidery I start with the hooks, as the selection of materials you use for embroidery depends on the hook you work with.

In the photo I show three main types of hooks, which I use in my work:

The hook 1 – the American,

The hook 2 – the Luneville

And the Hook 3 – the «Clover» hook.

In fact there are much more hooks for tambour embroidery.

The base of embroidery is tambour stitching, which is made as a chain of loops without single and double crochets, with any of those hooks.    

So, the embroiderer works with the hook, which she is used to.

I mostly use the hooks 1 and 2, but also I use the hook 3.

Let us review in detail each of the hooks.

The hook 1 is the American hook. I strongly recommend it to all beginners. It was purchased on

What is this hook? It is a steel hook, which has a rather sharp needle and our assistant – a latch or a tongue. The hook is locked with this latch and helps to loop.

In my practice I saw only two numbers of such hooks: the hook #100, which I use most of all, and the hook #120, which is to embroider on thick fabrics like drape and felt or to embroider with thick threads.    

This hook has the shape of a needle with bulb, which is inserted into the handle and as all tambour hooks is secured with fixing screw.

It is very important to place the needle opposite the latch! This is the classical and the most convenient position.

Let’s review the hook 3 from Clover. This hook resembles the American one and you can start your embroidery practice with this hook.

The only significant difference between these hooks is that the latch of the hook 3 has a spring.

So, the hook 1 has the smaller latch without the spring and you need to open and close it manually when getting in or out of the fabric. As for the hook 3 the latch has the spring. On one hand, it is more convenient as you learn the embroidery technique faster and, on the other hand, this spring sometimes hinders. When you master all movements, the spring becomes completely useless as this latch opens and closes upon entering or exiting the fabric.

What are the main disadvantages of the Clover hook (3)? Its needle, which enters the fabric, is not as sharp as the hook 1 has and the shape of the needle is flat and wide. The hole made by the needle in the thin fabric is rather big. And if the American hook moves the fabric fibers apart, the Clover hook tears the fibers and makes a hole. Thus, it is desirable to embroider with the Clover hook on mesh fabrics, especially if large accessories like large beads, pearls or other decorative elements are used. For example, if you need to make a continuous line of large beads, then the Clover hook will successfully cope with this work.      

The Clover hook can be sold with handle or without it. In my practice I saw such hooks of one size only. The handle of this hook differs from the handles of the American or the Luneville hooks and is not interchangeable. The width of the hook is rather large and it does not match with the handles of the American or the Luneville hooks.

Regardless of the similarity of the handle of the Clover hook with the other ones, its needle is not lined with the screw like in the other hooks, but it is placed perpendicular to the fixture screw.

Despite the disadvantages, I think, it is good for the beginners to have the Clover hook!

Finally, let us move to the main professional hook 2 – the Luneville hook.

The Luneville hook is named so as the embroidery with this Luneville hook came from the French town of Luneville.

These hooks can be made in France or Taiwan. The biggest difference between the French (2) and the Taiwanese (2.1) hooks is that the French hooks do not have the cylindrical top or bulb to place them into the handle and the Taiwanese hooks have the bulbs. Both hooks are inexpensive.

What are these bulbs for? Thanks to the bulb we can fix the hook in the handle, leaving it with rather long working surface or working length. Therefore, such hooks with bulbs can be used for Zardozi embroidery or for combined embroidery.  When embroidering Zardozi, which I will introduce later, the accessories are placed on the hook and moved down to the fabric by one or several elements during the embroidery. Therefore, those hooks are made slightly longer than the Luneville hooks. Please take into consideration, the longer the working surface is, the more difficult is to work. In order to work with the longer hooks you need to have some experience.

Usually I leave the length of the needle of about 1.5-2 cm. This is the optimal length!

The Luneville hooks are available from hook #70 to #120, I think. The Taiwanese hooks are thicker. Every hook is selected for respective thread and fabric: the thicker the hook is, the thicker the thread is; the thicker the fabric is, the higher the number of the hook is.

Certainly, I recommend using the French Luneville hook, especially to the novices! It is professional and specially made for the Luneville embroidery!

That, in fact, is all you need to know about the hooks for Luneville (tambour) embroidery at this stage.

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