Tambour Work has fallen into disuse, but was greatly admired when our grandmothers in the last century sprigged Indian muslins or silks with coloured flowers for dresses, and copied or adapted Indian designs on fine linen coverlets. These were very refined, but no more effective than a good chintz. There are exquisite specimens of the stitch to be seen in most English homes, and in France it was in vogue in the days of Marie Antoinette. Its use is now almost confined to the manufacture of what is known as Irish or Limerick lace, which is made on net in the old tambour frames, and with a tambour or crochet hook. The frame is formed of two rings of wood or iron, made to fit loosely one within the other. Both rings are covered with baize or flannel wound round them till the inner one can only just be passed through the outer. The fabric to be embroidered is placed over the smaller hoop, and the other is pressed down over it and firmly fixed with a screw. A small wooden frame of this description is universally used in Ireland for white embroidery on linen or muslin. In tambour work the thread is kept below the frame and guided by the left hand, while the hook or crochet needle is passed from the surface through the fabric, and brings up a loop of the thread through the preceding stitch, and the needle again inserted, forming thus a close chain on the surface of the work.
The difficulty of working chain stitch in a frame probably led to the introduction of a hook for this class of embroidery.