Tambour Lace Lesson 3

To find more tambour lessons: click here.

For today’s lesson, I am going to focus on one technique that will allow you to do a couple of very useful things. It’s a very helpful little trick to keep your work looking neat and tidy.

It’s not complicated, and once you’ve learned it, you’ll find that a whole new world of possibilities opens up.

As far as I can tell, this technique doesn’t have a name, so I’m going to refer to it as a “false stop” because that’s exactly what it is: behaving as if you’ve finished the work, but actually moving on instead.

My old lap hoop, sadly, has broken off of its stand, and I need to fix it, so this tutorial was photographed in a small hoop, clamped to the edge of a table. This is a great solution if you can’t invest in a hoop with a stand right now, but you have other embroidery hoops around.

Imagine you have embroidered a motif, like this cute little flower:


It’s finished, but there’s no clear way to get from the flower to the next part of your pattern. You could cut the thread, but goodness, who wants more ends to weave in when you’re finished?! Not I.

So instead, you follow these simple steps:

Pull out the final stitch on your needle so that you have a large loop. It doesn’t need to be as big as shown.
Put your needle through the back of the work, right next to your last stitch, but if you are working on net, NOT in the same cell as your last stitch.
Pull on your working thread to tighten the loop around the hook.
Pull the loop through to the back of the work. You will need a large loop on this side.
Take your working thread.
And pass the entire spool, threadwinder, skein, what-have-you through the loop.
Pull the working thread so that the loop tightens up around it.
Continue pulling until the loop has tightened up completely. Try not to pull any more than necessary, or you may distort the stitches at the front of the work. The knot doesn’t need to be extremely tight, it’s only there to stop the work from pulling out while you take the working thread somewhere else.
At this point, the stitches on your first motif are secure, and you can now pull up the working thread at another point in your pattern and continue working as normal.
I love this particular fragment from the Manchester Art Gallery because you can clearly see the working thread moving from place to place behind the fine muslin.

Now that you’ve seen how useful a false stop can be for moving your thread from one place to another without breaking it, I’ll show you another way to use the same technique: turning sharp corners.

You may have noticed that tambourwork doesn’t like to go around corners. The turning stitch tends to distort and stick up in an effort to make the turn. Fear not! This can be avoided.

When you come to a place in your work where you need to turn a sharp corner, perform a false stop using the same steps as above.


But, instead of moving to a different place, insert your hook back into your last completed stitch–NOT into the loop you pulled down as part of the false stop, but into the fully visible stitch before that.
Pull up your working thread.
And continue to stitch as normal, reveling in the beauty of your perfectly sharp corner.


This technique comes in incredibly handy while working a complicated tambour motif.

I hope you have found this tutorial helpful. As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

For more tambour lessons, click here.



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Hannah is a reader, a writer, a costumer, a wig-maker, a historical interpreter, a cosplayer, a tea-drinker, and a lover of yellow.

8 thoughts on “Tambour Lace Lesson 3”

  1. These tutorials are fantastic, I must say! I’m having much better luck now with the right materials, and your step-by-step photos and descriptions are very easy to follow. Thank you so much for doing these! I hope you cover edges next. 🙂


  2. Thank you sooo much for your tambour tutorials! I was intimated to try on my own but after reading your tutorials I’m excited to try. Thank you!!


  3. Hi , I just watched your tutorials and there are great. One thing that I don’t get is won’t the threads show when you jump from one pattern to another. I am doing a veil and thought you might see it


    1. Hi Anita—the threads will be visible through nets and other very fine fabrics. How noticeable they are depends on how busy your pattern is. This is totally normal, and can be seen on extant pieces. If it bothers you, you can certainly cut the thread and weave it in any time you need to move, but you may end up making a lot of work for yourself. I generally will jump the thread for short distances (up to about an inch and a half), and cut it for anything longer.


  4. Some instructions tell you to change the direction you wrap the thread when you change the direction on the design. Is this necessary?


    1. I find that altering the way I wrap the thread can help ensure that it catches and holds in the hook better as you move in different directions. If you prefer not to, it isn’t required, just a trick that can make things run a bit smoother.


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