This section is from the "A Complete Dictionary of Dry Goods" book, by George S. Cole. Also available from Amazon: A complete dictionary of dry goods and history of silk, cotton, linen, wool and other fibrous substances,: Including a full explanation of the modern processes ... together with various useful tables.
Tambour Work. A species of embroidery worked upon muslin stretched tightly by means of hoops or a frame similar to that encircling a tambourine, whence the name. The work is of Eastern origin, and was made in China, Persia, India and Turkey long before it became known in England or America. Previous to the 1750, tambour work was not known in Europe, except in Turkey. At that time it was worked upon muslin with white thread, and was used to ornament dresses, curtains, caps, borders and all varieties of white trimmings. In England the work of tambouring upon white materials with white thread became an article of manufacture about 1830, and gave employment to the poorer classes in Middlesex, Nottingham, and also in Ireland, but since the introduction of machinery, and the facility with which the stitch is executed by the embroidering machines, to make it by hand is no longer profitable. The tambour stitch produces a pattern of straight ridges crossing each other in every direction at right angles or acute angles. In Switzerland the stitch is sometimes used in the manufacture of window curtains. In America the the work is usually applied in the manufacture of fancy articles for household use, such as throws, scarfs, tidies and pillow shams.