Tambour or Luneville Embroidery.
The Corset Academy has published a great multitude of manuals and tutorials on sewing and decorating evening and wedding dresses, but we never focused on accessories before this day. It is time to make up for this little injustice.
I am opening a series of tutorials dedicated to small accessories which can be used to complement wedding and evening dresses.
I will start from a small embroidered kiss-lock purse but the techniques employed in the making of it can be used a lot more widely to decorate wedding and evening dresses.
In this course I will reveal the secrets of tambour or luneville embroidery.
I doubt you will use this technique to embroider whole dresses the way they do at haute-couture fashion houses. Such expensive and laborious projects require hiring highly-skilled embroiderers.
The same reason makes such orders unprofitable for private dressmakers and owners of small sewing ateliers. Besides, it is nearly impossible to find a client who will duly appreciate such work and will be willing to and capable of paying for it.
In addition, it is not like our typical clients are top models, which means such richly embroidered dresses will not always complement them as they are supposed to.
It is, nevertheless, worth mastering the tambour embroidering technique! And I know that many of you would really like to. It will doubtlessly raise your credibility before clients and make you stand out among competitors.
Even small amounts of tambour embroidery can make a dress, a purse, or a waistband look gorgeous. And the technique is not even that difficult!
It is enough to get the point behind a couple of simple tricks to successfully employ this embroidering technique in our sewing projects.
This time we will work with medium-density mesh fabric typically used for petticoats.
This mesh fabric is basically non-stretch. I have chosen it intentionally to make it easier for you to master the key techniques and tricks.
Once you have got the grasp of the tambour embroidering technique, you will be able to embroider any kinds of fabric: mesh, veiling, chiffon, organza, voile, etc.
Your choice of fabric for tambour or luneville embroidery is unlimited! The key thing is to learn how to position and move the embroidery hook correctly. After you do, the rest of the process will be fast and easy!
Before we get down to work, let me briefly tell you about my embroidery equipment.
There is an embroidery hoop on a stand.
I really like this tool because I can rotate the hoop in any direction and position it at a comfortable angle and height.
The height of the stand is also adjustable.
You may think that the opportunities of this tool are limited by the diameter of the embroidery hoop. But, in fact, you can always install a larger hoop using longer adjusting screws.
This embroidery hoop is particularly handy for beginners. When you start learning, you will at first find it easier to stitch in a particular direction. It will seem hard to stitch in a different direction. This tool allows you to adjust the position of the hoop so you can continue stitching in the direction you find comfortable. And this makes the process faster, indeed.
After you get skilled enough and learn all movements of the stitch, I recommend you should purchase a more professional stationary tool which allows you to work on large fragments without remounting the fabric. The size of the frame is adjustable. I will show you how to mount fabric in this embroidery frame and how to use it correctly.
And now I would like to say just a couple of words about the materials.
I will use Swarovski pearls of mixed sizes between 3mm and 8mm. These pearls look very beautiful, but they are quite heavy and it takes some time to get used to stitching with them.
Of course, it is much easier to embroider with seed beads but in this case you should use high-quality seed beads manufactured in Japan or in the Czech Republic. You won’t spare any time by using cheaper Chinese seed beads, and the final results will be disappointing!
Our key working tool is an embroidery hook. I highly recommend using a genuine luneville hook, especially for beginners! Do not even try to start learning with a different hook: nothing will work right, the thread will keep sliding off, and you will have no desire to do this kind of work again! The luneville hook guarantees good results! You will be able to use other types of hooks after you get skilled enough.
And now, my dear friend, I will tell you something surprising.
Before I take my luneville hook and start embroidering my mesh fabric with beautiful pearl beads, I want you to realize that tambour embroidery is basically the same as crochet work!
Let me remind you the basics of crocheting. Those of you who can do crochet work will get the hang of it at once. And it is crucial for understanding the tambour embroidering technique.
So, let me remind you in pictures how we crochet.
You start by making a loop.
There is a loop on my crochet hook now.
I catch the thread and pull it through the loop. Then I catch the thread again and pull it through the loop again. I am basically making a kind of a braid formed by loops or chain stitches.
And now please take a close look at the position of the head of my crochet hook.
You automatically rotate the hook 90 degrees toward the thread to grab it.
Then, without changing the position of the hook (i.e. it remains turned 90 degrees), you drag the thread through the loop.
You will never pull the thread through the loop with the head of the hook pointing upwards, i.e. toward the top of the loop. If you do, the hook will catch the loop and the thread will jump off.
In other words, here is what you do, absolutely intuitively: put the hook through the loop, grab the thread, rotate the hook 90 degrees toward the thread, and drag the thread through the loop without changing the position of the hook. The smooth side of the hook must be pointing upwards when you are bringing it through the loop.
All these things are very important. People seldom draw a parallel between tambour embroidery and crochet-work and, as the result, some basic laws slip away from their attention when they learn the tambour embroidering technique.
In reality through, there are certain things in common between tambour embroidery and crocheting. They are based on very similar algorithms.
The key difference is the position of the hook. It must be held vertically when you are embroidering.
It is harder to crochet this way, of course, but the algorithm stays the same: you hook the thread, turn the hook 90 degrees toward it, and pull the thread through the loop.
I have made a couple of rows of single crochet stitches just because it is easier to hold the swatch in my hands this way.
Before we start learning the tambour embroidering technique, I would like to dedicate some of our time to bead crochet basics.
I have already prepared a thread and put beads on it.
You pick beads with a big eye beading needle which has a split between the two ends where beading thread can easily be inserted.
It is easier to pick beads from a container of some sort.
Bead crochet is a great technique, and I really like it! It can give an endless source of inspiration to any knitter! You can make wonderful accessories to complement a knitted garment by combining plain crocheting with bead crocheting. And what gorgeous garments you can make by crocheting with seed beads or short bugle beads!
There are lots of multicoloured bead crochet patterns: you slide beads up the thread in a certain order to make amazingly beautiful purses, bead ropes, mobile phone cases, etc.
Take a look at these examples of artisan bead-crochet works:
I am talking about bead crocheting just because I want to show you the same analogy between bead crocheting and bead embroidery as I did with plain crocheting. The algorithm is basically the same!
Here, let me explain it step by step.
There is a loop on the hook.
Here is how you crochet with beads: you slide a bead right up to the loop, bring the hook through the stitch from the previous row, and finish the bead stitch.
The only difference between bead crocheting and bead embroidering is that you crochet garments with single crochet stitches whereas you embroider with slip stitches.
The technique I have demonstrated is known as crocheting in the round. You slide a bead up to the loop, make a stitch, and then make a plain single crochet stitch and repeat everything: slide a bead up to the loop, make a stitch, make a plain single crochet stitch, etc.
When we start embroidering, you will notice the same algorithm: you slide a bead up the thread and make a stitch. The only difference is that we make single crochet stitches and not slip stitches.
In the meantime, I have already made a few rows in the round:
And now I want to tell you how you can use tambour embroidery in the wedding fashion industry.
This small test piece was crocheted in the round as I said before. You can bead crochet a strip instead of a ring, too.
Just imagine that this ring is actually a strip the ends of which are joined together.
Doesn’t a thin strip like this resemble a shoulder strap? A beautiful soft elastic shoulder strap of a dress or a corset? And it doesn’t take long to make it.
Or why not make a waistband using the same technique? Well-chosen thread and bead size will allow you to have no gaps between the beads and the thread will stay unnoticeable. It will look like a whole mass of seed beads or pearl beads. Just imagine how gorgeous a waistband like this will look! And it will not take long to make if you already know how to crochet.
And if you crochet a simple chain of stitches and then make the first row with pearl or seed beads, you will get a thin and very lovely strip which can also be used as a shoulder strap or for various decoration purposes. You can arrange this thin strip of pearl beads into any desired shape and secure it anywhere on a corset or a dress.
I am sure you will get a hundred of your own ideas how to use such décor.
I wanted to show you that the tambour embroidering technique is as easy as pie for anyone who is skilled enough at crocheting! Do not be upset if you don’t know how to crochet: you can try to practice crocheting first or you can start learning tambour embroidery straight away. And I will give you detailed guidelines how to do it.
And now let us briefly talk about mesh fabric.
I will work with mesh fabric typically used for petticoats. It is medium-density mesh fabric, it holds its shape very well, and it is basically non-stretch.
I think this mesh fabric with its rather large openings is a perfect material for practicing the tambour embroidering technique for the first time.
It will be easier for you to pass the needle of the hook through these large openings without catching the mesh. They are simply perfect for practicing embroidery!
This kind of mesh fabric suits for making appliqué motifs which can then be cut out and secured on a garment.
You can also use it to make embroidered waistbands.
I believe you will find a lot more ways to use this mesh fabric for embroidery.
As for us, we are making a purse today.
I bet you are dreaming of learning to embroider nude-coloured mesh fabric in the future so you can embellish with embroidery dresses which imitate bare skin.
Here is what I say to that: start from learning how to embroider hard mesh fabric because once you do, as I already said, it will make no difference to you what fabric to embroider.
I prefer to work with two types of nude-coloured mesh fabric: euromesh and illusion mesh.
Euromesh is thin but rather resilient nude-coloured two-way-stretch mesh fabric.
Euromesh has about two times smaller openings than our hard mesh fabric.
Trust me that you will no longer care about the size of those openings after you get the point behind the tambour embroidering technique and learn all movements of the stitch.
You will even be able to embroider chiffon which has absolutely no openings in it. You will pierce it with the hook itself.
As for illusion mesh, it is incredibly thin all-way-stretch mesh fabric with very small openings.
Needless to say that illusion mesh is perfect for imitating bare skin! But it is rather hard to embroider it because it stretches in all directions.
For the same reason, it takes some skill to mount it in an embroidery hoop or frame without distorting the piece.
Considering all this, I recommend cutting particularly complicated parts of bare-skin-effect garments from euromesh because it is two-way-stretch and more resilient. Parts of less complicated shapes can be cut from illusion mesh.
In “Wedding Dresses: The Bare Skin Effect” by the Corset Academy, I used illusion mesh only for the sleeves of long-sleeve dresses. All other nude-coloured parts were sewn with euromesh.
Using euromesh for tambour embroidery will make the process less time-consuming and allow you to determine the size of your embroidery more precisely with respect to the garment pattern.