Mary's Reticule · Stumpwork · Tambour Embroidery

Mary’s Reticule Progress and a Rose

My goal was to have this reticule finished by the time I went to the EAC Seminar “Inspiring Threads”. With less than a month to go I can say that I’ll have the embroidery done for sure but not that I’ll have the reticule seen together.  

I have the vine pattern on all four panels complete, one the of panels completed and a second close behind.  

I also have to finish a retirement gift for my co-worker by the end of May.  I’m stitching a stump work Rose from Inspirations Magazine Issue 85 called: Full Bloom by Susan Porter.  I started on the leaves over the weekend.


embroidery · Free Project · Mary's Reticule · Tambour Embroidery · Town Clock Stitchers

Tambour Christmas Tree

The actual post that got my subconscious interested in learning Tambour embroidery was from a December 2014 post by Mary Corbet.  She posted a design for a Christmas tree that I love (see post here).  In it were the words…”especially suitable for Tambour embroidery…”  Naturally I had to follow the link about Tambour embroidery and my interest was peaked.  So when I saw an early 19th century reticule that was done in tambour embroidery I had a frame of reference, and when my guild decided to reproduce that reticule I was glad for the excuse to finally learn the technique.  In the lull of waiting for the materials for my reticule project to arrive I printed off the Christmas Tree design that originally interested me and stitched it with my Tambour hook.  The fabric is red cotton and the thread is metallic gold machine embroidery thread.




Mary's Reticule · Tambour Embroidery

Tambour improvement

I’ve been working on tambour embroidery every day for over a month now.  I am satisfied that I can now tackle the reticule reproduction.  Initially I would turn the frame to do a shape…now I don’t.  I was using a needle to plunge thread and help me turn…now I use the tambour needle.  I have better and more consistent tension than before…to begin with I was pulling too tight.  My stitches are more uniform as well.  I’m pleased that the work I’ve put into learning is paying off.

I’ll be starting on the real thing in a month.  The fabric is ordered and I’m picking it up today.  Now to figure out which pattern transfer method to do.  I’m leaning towards prick and pounce because that is historically accurate and because I don’t like using pencil on this type of project.  I find the lead gets on the threads.  I only know how to do prick and pounce in theory…we’ll see what happens.


Tambour Embroidery

My cat likes Tambour Emobroidery

I noticed something rather funny this morning.  I normally have about 30 minutes to sit down in the morning before leaving for work.  I spend the time stitching, knitting or crocheting.  This morning I was practising tambour.  My cat, Abbie, is 15 years old and as a kitten she was very interested in my embroidery.  She would often lie down on my knees and press her paws against the back of the linen and I would see her nails poking through.  As the years went on she has settled with sleeping/sitting next to me and not shown a big interest in my embroidery.

This morning as I was putting in some stitches with my tambour hook I notice that Abbie is sitting next to me paying very close attention.  I am able to move faster with the stitches now…still a snails pace I’m sure, but fast enough to catch the cat’s eyes.  The thread in my left hand, under the frame moves around a lot and she was sitting up with her head tilted to see under the frame.

Mary's Reticule · NS Natural History Museum: History Collection · Tambour Embroidery · Uncategorized

Tambour Practice

Before, during and after stitching I’ve been comparing what I am attempting with the original.  Since I am a beginner I just want to see if I can shape the tambour lines in a similar way.  So far so good.  I’ve noticed that I snag a lot less frequently than a week ago; I’m moving faster as well.  In my current practice flowers I have been carrying the thread behind the fabric back to the starting point rather than turning the line of stitches.  I was viewing Mary’s Reticule yesterday for nearly 2 hours with Lisa and we determined that Mary had turned her lines.  We were also refining the colour choices for the flowers and their greenery.  Mary’s Reticule has such fine, tiny stitches that by the end of the 2 hours I had a headache.  In some places it was easy to decide on a colour and in others time had faded the colour so badly that it was difficult to know.

I have totally been cheating by turning my frame…that is something I have to work on not doing.  Up to this point I’ve been interested in getting familiar with the hand motions involved with the Tambour hook.  Now I am onto not turning the frame and turning corners.

Mary's Reticule · NS Natural History Museum: History Collection · Tambour Embroidery · Town Clock Stitchers

Learning Tambour Embroidery..and then reproducing an early 18th century reticule

I’ve seen tambour embroidery around…mainly on Needle ‘N Thread.  Thought it would be interesting to learn “someday” but had no real incentive to purchase the tambour hook.  Well that has changed.  My guild, Town Clock Stitchers, is doing a program this year which definitely encouraged me to learn.  Our monthly meetings are held in the Nova Scotia Natural History Museum project room downstairs.  One of our members is the assistant curator for their History Collection.  The History Collection isn’t on permanent display at the museum so it was a real treat when we arranged through our member to see a few items she pre-selected for us.  Among these items was a reticule circa 1790-1810.  The reticule has 4 panels and on each panel is a local flower done in Tambour embroidery.  Very beautiful.

Our guild executive committee wanted to do something more engaging for our members.  We are offering a Bargello project and a surface embroidery project.  The surface embroidery project is a reproduction of the reticule.  I’ll be doing the reticule.

For embroidery that is over 200 years old we actually know a lot of information about the person that stitched it.  The embroiderer was named Mary Boggs Tremaine.  She was from a Loyalist family (Boggs) in New Jersey that moved to Nova Scotia.  There will be 10 people working on creating reticules based on Mary’s original.  We will all be using a pattern I’ve developed by importing the images and tracing the outlines of the vine border and the floral motifs digitally.  Of that group of 10 people 8 are learning Tambour.

Trout Lily Panel - Photo Courtesy of Lisa (History Collection, NS Natural History Museum)
Trout Lily (or Dog Tooth Lily) Panel – Photo Courtesy of Lisa (History Collection, NS Natural History Museum)
Photo Courtesy of Lisa (History Collection, NS Natural History Museum)
Rose Panel – Photo Courtesy of Lisa (History Collection, NS Natural History Museum)
Photo Courtesy of Lisa (History Collection of NS Natural History Museum)
Lily Panel – Photo Courtesy of Lisa (History Collection of NS Natural History Museum)
Photo Courtesy of Lisa (History Collection, NS Natural History Museum)
Forget-me-knot Panel – Photo Courtesy of Lisa (History Collection, NS Natural History Museum)