How to Do Tambour Lace

Updated February 21, 2017

Tambour lacemaking was nearly a lost art. Once machine lacemaking developed in the United Kingdom, lace making by hand began to disappear. Fortunately interest in handmade lace has returned, and tambour lacemaking is not difficult to learn. Tambour lace is made using a tambour, a drum shaped embroidery hoop over which the background netting is stretched. You can also use a quilting hoop or regular embroidery hoop. Because the work is done using both hands, you need a stand to hold the tambour. Special netting, tambour hooks and needles are available online from lace museums and speciality fabric shops.

Stretch a layer of cotton muslin and a layer of net over the bottom hoop, with the net on top. Fasten the top hoop over the fabric layers.

Cut away most of the muslin layer, leaving a 1-inch border around the inside of the embroidery hoop, under the net fabric.

Fasten the pattern underneath the embroidery hoop, fastening it to the muslin with dressmaker's pins.

Put the embroidery hoop on the stand so you can use both hands. Hold the thread underneath the embroidery hoop with one hand and the tambour hook above the frame with the other hand.

Insert the tambour hook through the net and draw a loop of thread to the top. Insert the hook through the net again and bring up another loop of thread. Pull the second loop through the first one. Leaving the second loop on the tambour hook, insert it through the net again, following the pattern, and pull up another loop. Pull this loop through the loop left on the hook. Keep repeating this chain stitch, following the pattern. When you finish a line of chain stitch, fasten it with a knot underneath the net.

Use heavier thread to outline flowers and leaves. Use a narrower thread to fill in the design.


Keep your thread in a plastic yoghurt container on the floor. Cut a hole through the lid of the yoghurt container to pull the thread through. This keeps the thread from rolling away or getting dirty.


As with most things, practice makes perfect. Don't worry if your first efforts aren't as pretty as you would like. With practice you will be able to make beautiful lace pieces.

Things You'll Need

  • Embroidery hoop with stand
  • Net fabric for tambour lace
  • Cotton muslin
  • Scissors
  • Dressmaker's pins
  • Pattern
  • Tambour hook or very fine crochet hook
  • Cotton muslin
  • Embroidery thread
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About the Author

Ramona French owned a massage school and taught massage for 28 years. In that time she wrote textbooks on Swedish, acupressure, deep tissue and lymph drainage massage. She is the author of "Introduction to Lymph Drainage Massage" and "Milady's Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage." Her book, "The Complete Guide to Lymph Drainage Massage," published by Milady, was released in October 2011.