Saturday, 15 September 2012

Beading edge technology

Yves Saint Laurent's collection Winter '84-'85
A dream came true! As I mentioned in one of the previous posts, I was lucky enough to get in touch with Veronique who spent every evening of an entire week giving me private lessons in tambour embroidery

My main goal was to learn the maximum number of tambour embroidery techniques with a view to later integrating them into my future garments. Below, I have posted pictures featuring all the techniques I learnt. Unfortunately, I don't know their names in English since the lessons were in French and I am too lazy to spend time researching on the Internet. Hopefully the photos speak for themselves.

For those of you who don't know what tambour embroidery is, here is a little intro. Tambour embroidery, or la broderie de LunĂ©ville (named after the town in France where a hook was first used to work with beads and sequins), is a type of embroidery done with a hook on a piece of fabric stretched on a frame. The embroiderer works on the wrong side of the fabric and the right side of the stitching is underneath. The stitches in tambour embroidery can be done with different types of thread - waxed cotton thread, twisted silk/polyester or metal thread. But tambour embroidery is mainly known for its techniques working with beads, sequins and rhinestones for haute couture. The most famous atelier (school) for tambour embroidery is Lesage, which was purchased by Chanel in 2002. 

One side of the fabric stretched on the wooden frame.
When you buy beads and sequins, they usually come threaded onto something called a pompon, which consists of 10 individual strands of thread tied together. On average, a pompon holds 10,000 sequins, or 1000-3000 beads depending on their size. When you begin embroidering a piece of fabric, you need to transfer the beads or sequins from the pompon onto a separate piece of working thread. 

One of the hardest things when embroidering with beads is that you don't really see them, unless you are working with transparent fabric like organza. 

Transferring beads to the working thread

 You can see the Atelier Lesage preparing for a Chanel show in the video below. 


I have to admit I was very lucky to have Veronique as a teacher. During the week of lessons, she taught me the basics and gave me as much information as possible to help me continue by myself in the future. At the end of our lessons, she treated me to a book about Lesage. I had no idea how valuable the book was! In turn, I want to treat you to some pics of gorgeous garments from the book.

Project for Jean-Louis Scherrer
Detail: Iris of Van Gogh,  Yves Saint Laurent, summer 1988
This entire garment took 600 hours of labor, 250,000 sequins in 22 colors, 200,000 beads and 250m of ribbon
Sorce: La Dulcie Vita
Personally, I find it hideous, but  in terms of craftsmanship it's a masterpiece! Jean-Paul Gaultier, winter 1989 
Detail from YSL's bolero (picture at the top of the page)


  1. Wow! Such beautiful effects. I look forward to seeing them used on your garments

  2. Wow. Those pictures, samples and garments are incredible. I can't begin to image the work that has gone into them! I'm looking forward to seeing how you incorporate the techniques into future self-made garments!

  3. Woaw! What a beautiful technology! So impressed by the practices on video. I'm also looking forward to your garment with this beautiful technology.
    p.s. I love today's title as well:) You are smart!

  4. Great post. I've seen that JPG tiger dress, and I have to say that I thought it was amazing. Maybe the concept is a bit off putting, but the work... My favorite part of the bead work were the paws and the whiskers. But, my favorite part of the dress overall was the back. No beading there though, just a stunning line.

  5. Wow wow wow. Please bead something soon :)

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