Friday, April 3, 2020

A Tambour Beaded Egyptian Revival Dress and Evening Bag

Before I started tambour beading, I practiced using a tambour needle with some tambour embroidery that became two of my day dresses. It was a wonderful way to get used to the motion and process. 

I'm going to give a brief overview of the process, but if you want to learn, I would highly recommend taking a class, or doing what I did, and buying the Robert Haven tutorial DVD. 

In short, after mocking up the dress, I started by framing up my silk crepe back satin. The framing step is so important, as the fabric must be tight as a drum. Thats where the name comes from, after all!

When the fabric was ready, I penciled the design (based off the extant dress in the picture), onto the back side of the silk. One thing to note, when tambour beading, you work from the back, picking up pre strung beads as you go. You cant actually see the beads as you work. You go off of feel. 

From the top, which is really the inside of the garment.

And then from the bottom, or the outside of the work! 

The fringe was done from the right side. I strung each fringe individually. This way, if a strand broke, the rest of the fringe would be fine. Now, this is not the case with the rest of the beading. Because you are basically crocheting through the fabric, if a thread snaps, ALL the beading can be pulled out! 

And then I started to add color! For the beads, I used Miyuki Delica, which are wonderful to work with. For the purse, I used inferior beads that were not 100% uniform. It definitely made a difference! I used silk thread. The little red triangles are actually glued on!

This fringe was done individually, from the right side, as well.

Once the beading, front and back, was finished, I ended up hand sewing the dress together. I was afraid my machine wouldn't be delicate enough to work around the beading.

The purse was made in a similar way, though on a hoop so I could travel with it. I started the purse first, and luckily, worked out some kinks before starting in on the dress.

Below, my purse, next to an original, owned by a friend.

After venturing into tambour, I can easily say its my favorite type of embroidery. With or without beads. Once you get the hang, its simple and extremely fast! And I find it fun. I look forward to doing more!


  1. This is amazing, what a beautiful dress.

  2. I love this! I'm going to be doing a tambour embroidered Epyptian Revival dress for an event next spring, so it was so fun to see your work! :D

  3. This is simply amazing, Caroline. I am always impressed by your work and attention to detail, but this goes above and beyond! Your lines are so straight! Wow. Thanks for showing your process!


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