Friday, June 22, 2012

Embroidery tutorial 3 -- couched stitches

If you make one long stitch, then hold it in place with some tiny stitches, that's called couching.  It's a versatile technique.  I've gotten much better with practice in holding the long stitch perfectly straight and making the tiny stitches practically disappear, which is a good way to "draw" lines.  

You can also give yourself plenty of slack on the long stitch so that you can make it curve as you couch it down.  I also use it for small curved letters.

A variant of couching: hold down a whole bundle of straight stitches with longer, more visible stitches.

In more elaborate embroidery, couching is frequently used to hold down heavier decorative cords, but I'm restricting myself to plain old embroidery floss for this project so I'm not getting the spectacular results that some people do.  But for me, couching is an important functional tool that allows me to make lines.


  1. Thank you for the tutorial. I had forgotten that couching had roots in embroidery instead of with a special foot on the sewing machine. I like the letters and the hay bales.

  2. Rumanian stitch is a crouching stitch that uses the same thread foor the base and the threads holding it down, it's usually done in blocks, but while reading your post I started wondering how it would work to make shapes....

  3. Margaret -- I tried Rumanian stitch a couple of weeks ago after reading about it in a book, but can't say I did enough of it to fall in love. I think it's hard to internalize new stitches -- you're focused on following directions and making a sample that looks like the one in the book, not on getting to know the stitch and how it feels.