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Tambour Embroidery-by Christen Brown

Close-up view of vintage tambour embroidery

Close-up view of vintage tambour embroidery

Tambour embroidery, introduced to the Western world by France, is a continuous worked chain stitch formed with a tambour hook, which forms a loop similar to a crochet chain. The stitch is formed on the fabric with the thread held underneath in one hand while the other hand inserts the hook down through the fabric to catch the thread. The needle is brought back through the same hole, forming a loop. The following stitches are formed a short distance from the previous stitch, catching the loop of the last stitch at the beginning of the next.

Vintage Purses with Tambour Embroidery

Vintage Purses with Tambour Embroidery

These three purses are from my vintage purse collection. All are embroidered with tambour embroidery, possibly French. Clockwise from the left:

  1. Handbag with plunger clasp and chain handle: black moire silk with cream and pink roses and sage green leaves. Circa early 1900’s.
  2. Handbag with double frame and cloth handle: black silk satin with light pink, deep pink, crimson, and mauve colored roses and olive green leaves. Circa early 1900’s.
  3. Handbag that flips open flat with chain handle: black faille with pink, red, yellow and orange roses and olive green leaves.

Happy Stitching, ~Christen

Artistry in Alchemy- article by Christen Brown

Vintage French Handbags with Metal Thread Embroidery

Vintage French Handbags with Metal Thread Embroidery

The term gold-work embroidery was originally used to describe a form of decorative embroidery that employed real gold threads in a mixture of surface applications and techniques that use both laid and stitched yarns. The term now is extended to gold-work and metallic thread embroidery and includes all metals: gold (though this proved costly for most industries and was not used much after the 10th century), silver gilt, silver, pewter and copper, and metallic (alloy or synthetic) colored threads and yarns.

These two examples of incredible metal-thread embroidery are part of my vintage purse collection. The handbag I purchased at an estate sale, has copper, green and bronzed colored embroidery threads. The coin purse is mainly copper and silver colors, and I found this on ebay.

The March/April 2008  issue PieceWork Magazine included my article The Glittering World of Metal- Thread Embroidery. I created the project shown below Deco Butterfly, which appears in the magazine and Velvet Bracelet that you can download the directions to from their web site (use the link above and scroll to the bottom of the index).

Velvet Jewelry by Christen Brown

Velvet Jewelry by Christen Brown

Throughout the article they used pictures of the many examples of this fascinating embroidery that I have been collecting over the years.

Happy Stitching, ~Christen

Stitched Adornments- article by Christen Brown

Vintage Floral Embroidery

Vintage Floral Embroidery

Floral embroidery is a descriptive term that was used for both thread embroidery (silk, wool or chenille); and ribbon work flowers (a piece of ribbon or fabric that was stitched with a needle and thread) see the sample on the left. The flowers were arranged in sprays, or as a single bud on men’s waistcoats, ladies gowns, shawls and other accessories. Popular stitches for the embroideries were satin, long and short, and stem. The chain stitch that could also be worked with a tambour needle is often used as the only stitch in the design.

Ribbon work flowers such as aerophane or crepe floral embroidery (used in the late 19th century) had the details of leaves and stems stitched in with thread embroidery. The ribbon, a thin silk gauze or crepe would be cut then gathered with stitches to form each petal of the flower. Narrow silk “China” ribbons were available in shaded colors, and were first used in ribbon work floral embroidery. This narrow silk ribbon could also be threaded into a large eyed needle and stitched into flower shapes (usually a straight stitch) with added silk thread embroidered accents. The combination of ribbon work flowers and silk ribbon embroidery gave the design dimension.

Vintage Floral Sewing Bag

Vintage Floral Sewing Bag

The top image is from a satin purse, with the ribbon worked flowers and leaves of stitched chenille. A gift from my husband for my birthday, probably circa early 1900’s. It is incredible in person.

The second image with the whimsical floral vignettes was made, I believe as a sewing or knitting bag, but I use it as a purse, circa 1940’s judging from the fabrics used. Some of the flowers are made with ribbon, some with fabric scraps, some with added felt details. Primitive embroidery and beading were used to enhance the floral sections. I found this lovely treasure on ebay, and I adore it.

Vintage Buttons- by Christen Brown

Renaissance Maiden by Christen Brown

Renaissance Maiden by Christen Brown

I LOVE buttons!!! As a kid my mom kept a wooden cigar box full of buttons in the sewing closet. When we were sick, or sometimes just bored she would pull out the box and let us play with them.

At first I just loved the sound that the buttons made when they fell on the table; then I loved just looking at the colors; then I started imagining what I would do with them all. I learned a lot about color, shapes and sizes by playing and arranging these little treasures on the rug in the living room. My mom in her quiet wisdom gave us our own self taught course on design.

Today I collect vintage and antique buttons, some I keep on display because they are so beautiful but mainly I use them in the projects that I make. Examples include “Renaissance Maiden” which is encrusted with vintage metal and glass buttons and “Autumn Leaves Must Fall” a short sleeved jacket that is covered in celluloid, Bakelite and Thermoset buttons.

I hope that you will be inspired to look through your own “Button Box” and that you find a hidden treasure in there. And remember that even if the button’s worth is measured only by the special memory that it brings to you, that is priceless.

Happy Stitching, ~Christen