Learn couching stitch embroidery. This is the opportunity you have been waiting for! Find out about the technique of couching to create some beautiful surface embroidery using thicker threads and even yarns.
Couching Stitch Embroidery Tutorial
What is Couching Stitch?
Couching is an embroidery technique that makes use of two threads at a time. It is comprised of a top thread or surface thread and a stitching thread that holds the surface thread in place.
Couching can be a ‘free form’ experience, or it can follow a pattern. It is especially suited to monograms and outlines with texture.
The surface thread can be thicker or textured because it does not enter the fabric but rests on the surface. In fact, the main thread can even be fabric strips or even a cord instead of embroidery floss. Yarn makes a nice couching thread, especially when it is all bobbly and uneven.
In the sample below, I used numerous strands of embroidery floss for the surface threads.
What is Couching Stitch Used For?
Couching stitch is used for heavier embroidery embellishments on blankets, clothing and home decor.
In the modern-day variations of traditional embroidery, couching lends itself to using different types of thread, wool, yarn, beaded work, ribbon, and any other medium you could successfully stitch into a design.
Supplies Needed for Couching Stitch
You need two threads and two needles for this technique.
- NEEDLES - The needles recommended are tapestry with a bigger eye and a point to enter the fabric.
- EMBROIDERY FLOSS - If you don't want the small securing threads to show, then use a matching color thread. For a contrasting look and a pop of color, use 2 different colors. The 2 threads don't need to be the same thickness or type of material.
- HOOP - Couching stitch is best done in an embroidery hoop to hold the fabric taut. For larger areas, you can move the hoop around.
If you are new to learning embroidery, read my article on how to embroider for more tips and supplies to get you started on your new hobby.
How to Do Couching Stitch, Step by Step Instructions
Step 1 - Mark the Design
Draw your couching stitch design on your fabric and set it into your hoop. A hoop is essential to keep the surface thread stable and help you maneuver the other thread as you stitch over the surface thread.
Thread your two needles with different threads. One is the surface thread, and the stitching thread can be a contrasting thread color depending on your design. This technique works well in a shade lighter or even the same color; the choice is yours.
Step 2 - Surface Threads
Bring the surface embroidery thread up through the back of the fabric to your starting point. Here I have used 2 strands of surface thread to get a nice thickness.
When you have started to stitch or couch the thread in place, move it to the side and pin it gently so it does not flap around and get in your way. As you continue to couch the surface thread along the design, you can move it gently into place.
Step 3 - Couching Embroidery Threads
Bring the stitching thread up from the back of the fabric to a place next to the surface thread at the starting point at (1).
Stitch over the surface thread with a small stitch at (2) and pull the needle and thread to the back of the work. (2) should be directly below (1).
Step 4 - Repeat the Couching Stitch
Return to the right side of the work a bit further along the surface thread, and make another small straight stitch that catches the surface thread by stitching over it.
Repeat this process in regular intervals as you follow the line of your design until completion. Then pull both threads to the back and end off by weaving the loose ends into the stitches at the back.
Alternative Method for Couching Stitch
There is another way to do a couching stitch and get the same effect. Make the little straight stitches in their places along the design first.
- When you have mapped out the whole design in straight stitches that resemble little hoops.
- Take your surface thread and run it along the design by weaving under the little stitches and pulling the surface thread gently along your design.
The result will be the same, and using this method can make corners and curves a little easier to complete.
Couching Stitch - In Conclusion
Now you know what the couching stitch is all about, it is time to try this beautiful facet of embroidery and feel justified to ‘couch’ all afternoon.
More Embroidery Stitches
- Blanket Stitch
- Buttonhole Stitch
- Chain Stitch
- Chevron Stitch
- Couching Stitch
- Cross Stitch
- Double Herringbone Stitch
- How to Embroider
- Faggoting Embroidery
- Feather Stitch
- Fern Stitch
- Fishbone Stitch
- Fly Stitch
- French Knots
- Hand Embroidery Stitches
- Herringbone Stitch
- Lazy Daisy
- Running Stitch
- Sashiko Embroidery
- Satin Stitch
- Seed Stitch Embroidery (Rice Stitch)
- Stem Stitch
- Straight Stitch
- Web Stitch | Embroidery Tutorial
- Whip Stitch
Couching Stitch Embroidery
- Embroidery Needle
- Embroidery Hoop
- Embroidery Floss
- Thread a needle with your surface thread. Bring the needle up at the start of the design and go back down at the end of the design.
- Thread a second needle with the couching thread. Come up at (1) which is just to the side of the surface thread.
- Put the couching needle back down at (2) so it goes over the surface thread. (2) is directly below (1).
- Repeat so you have a series of vertical stitches holding down the surface thread.
Hi Lavina, You can couch using any thickness of threads. I assume you are trying to get a certain look in following your pattern. Sometimes stitches are combined or altered slightly and this is what it sounds like in your pattern. Going up and down in a few places can add strength.
While your instructions are very helpful in starting the "couching" technique, I'm still a little befuddled by the instructions on my current project. First of all, the long stitch must be done using two threads, couching only where the pattern lines intersect. My first question is: Do I couch using one thread or two? Secondly, since the thread usually goes up in one place and down in another, is this the same technique before the couching is added? Any help will be appreciated as this project was very time-consuming.