I've spent a lot of time making various things in my lifetime and as I've grown up and my interests have become more specialised, my need for harder to source materials has increased. In my own embroidery work I am specialsing in goldwork and tambour beading and both techniques require materials which are not readily available from a haberdashery. I have spent a lot of time trawling the internet to find items such as pre strung beads and sequins and goldwork threads so I thought I would share my recommended list of suppliers with you.
First I'll start with tambour supplies, it is necessary to buy pre strung beads and sequins unless you are prepared to string them yourself, which I personally do not have the patience for! All of the sites that I have found selling tambour supplies are French, so you have to be prepared to pay a little more postage. The absolute best place I have found is Paillettes et Broderie, they have every type of sequin you can imagine in every finish and colour and an equally great selection of beads. The only downside is it can become quite expensive especially with the sequins. Another supplier is Brodely, there's not as much choice here and the sequin and bead bundles are not quite as big but it's a good alternative. I have also recently discovered Fried Frères, they have a shop in Paris (which looks amazing) and you can request a catalogue to order from. I haven't bought anything from them yet but they sell pre strung beads and sequins as well as hot fix stones, buttons, more unusual embroidery supplies and general haberdashery items.
If you want to use beads that are not strung for tambour then you can buy a bead spinner, available from GJ Beads. This works best if you have a fairly large amount of beads, you use a needle and as it spins it threads the beads.
There are a lot of different websites selling goldwork supplies but I like London Embroidery School best. They sell all the different types of gold, silver and bronze threads and a couple of coloured threads as well as various other golwork supplies. They are sold in 5g or 10g packets and are reasonably priced, I don't think they are genuine gold and silver except from the gold spangles which contain a small percentage of gold. Also they dispatch orders really quickly, normally a couple of hours after it has been placed; so (depending on the speed of the post) you will normally receive your order the day after ordering it. Brodely sell a good range of coloured threads as well as the traditional colours. They also sell a lot of gold and silver beads and other goldwork materials.
When it comes to fabric I mainly use organza which usually comes from John Lewis, Beckford Silk or Whaleys Bradford. Pongees are silk specialists and have amazing fabrics, they are a little more expensive but the quality is great. At the moment you have to contact them for a price list and order over the phone. But I have just seen that they are updating their website so that you will soon be able to order online. Beckford Silk are also silk specialists and have a wide range of silk fabric in beautiful colours. However some colours are dyed to order so they have a minimum order usually of 10 metres. Whaleys sell a lot of undyed fabrics of various compositions so you can dye or print the fabrics yourself. If you want to tambour bead onto tulle it's best to get cotton tulle, this is very hard to find but I recently discovered some on Brodely.
So that concludes my list of embroidery supplies stockists, I hope you find this useful and if you have any recommendations of your own please do leave them in the comments.
Now for a little update on what I am doing at the moment as I am aware I haven't posted many new embroidery pieces in a long time. This is because I am still working on my entry to the Hand and Lock Prize so I am keeping it all secret at the moment, I'm so excited to show all the new pieces I've been working on. Now that I am no longer working under the time constraints of university projects I have really been able to concentrate on hand embroidery as I have always wanted to do. I've really advanced my goldwork skills during the course of this project and the subject matter is different from anything I have previously done.
I'll be starting on more work for Joe Richards again soon (the last post I wrote shows my work on his newest collection). I'm also collaborating with another of Joe's interns, who is a graphic design masters student. We are working on a small project together, which is very different from my own work but really exciting.