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Embroidery Fundamentals: How to Do Couching

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Difficulty:BeginnerLength:ShortLanguages:
Final product image
What You'll Be Creating

Learn how to do this easy (but rarely used) stitch in minutes, and add more color, texture and variety to your embroidery!

Supplies

Couching supplies
  • Small piece of muslin fabric (about 15cm square)
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Scissors
  • Needle
  • Six-strand embroidery floss
  • Water soluble transfer pen
  • Ruler (optional)

1. Prepare Your Fabric for Stitching

Step 1

Trace a line onto your fabric with a transfer pen. Couching is also great on curved lines, so if you would rather freehand a curvy line to practice on, feel free!

Trace a line onto your fabric with a transfer pen

Step 2

Secure your fabric into your embroidery hoop.

Secure your fabric into your embroidery hoop

2. Stitch Your Line

Step 1

Thread your needles. Couching actually uses two pieces of thread: one that follows the contour of your pattern, and a second that essentially stitches the first into place. I usually split my six-strand embroidery floss into only two or three strands if I want my top stitching to be less noticeable.

Thread split into two strands

Step 2

Begin your stitch. With your first needle and thread (I usually use the entire six strands of floss here), stitch up through your fabric at the beginning of your traced line from back to front. To avoid unwanted tangles or a dangling needle, I usually secure this needle into my fabric above the line I am working on.

stitch up through your fabric at the beginning of your traced line
continue stitching

Step 3

Begin securing your base floss with your couching stitches.

Decide how close together you want to make your securing stitches, and start stitching your base thread to your pattern. You will your floss up through your fabric on the top of your base thread, and finish the stitch by passing the needle back through your fabric on the bottom of your base thread (almost as if you were stapling the thread into place with your stitches).

Closeup of couching stitch
Floss up through the fabric

Step 4

Continue your couching stitches until you reach the end of your line or pattern. Make sure to space your top stitches as evenly as possible.

Continue your couching stitches until you reach the end of your line or pattern

Step 5

Complete your stitch. Once you reach the end of your line, you will pass your base thread back through your fabric. You can then tie a small knot at each end of the line using the ends of your two pieces of floss.

Complete your stitch
Tie a knot

3. Adding Additional Colors

Step 1

Couching is a great stitch to use if you want to add extra color and texture to your projects. You can use a contrasting color of thread over your base floss (or use non-traditional embroidery threads to create texture).

Add a second color yellow
Stitching with the yellow included

Admire Your Work

With a little practice you may just find couching to be one of your favorite stitches. It is quick to work, lends itself well to working in both straight and curved lines, and offers up a great deal of versatility in threads! 

Have you ever tried out couching? Let us know what you think about this stitch in the comments.

Couching Stitch Final Result
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