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Couching stitches are embroidery stitches that involve laying threads onto the fabric with only the ends attached and then adding shorter stitches that are used to anchor the laid threads down. These kinds of stitches can be used for various purposes including decorative borders, outlines, and filling in areas in an embroidery design.
Multiple colors of thread can be used for the laid thread and the anchor stitches for more decoration. You can even use decorative fibers and ribbons instead of embroidery thread and really get creative with it. This post will go over 6 different types of couched stitches.
This post is part of a large number of other posts all about embroidery stitches.
How To Do A Couching Stitch
The first stitch is by far the most common and least complicated of all of the couching stitches. You can use this stitch for outlines, lettering, and decorative squiggles.
- Come up through the fabric and leave the other end loose. (We’ll call this thread A)
- Using another strand of thread in another color (thread B), make small, short stitches to secure the other piece of thread to the fabric.
- When you’re finished, secure the tail of thread A down into the fabric.
The standard for the couching stitch is to use small straight stitches to anchor down the thread. However, other stitches can be used such as a cross-stitch, blanket stitch, herringbone stitch, or even a chevron stitch. There are so many different combinations you could use.
You can use one strand of embroidery thread to couch or use multiple strands, rope, or ribbon for this stitch. In the example above, I used multiple strands of floss for the laid thread and secured it with anchor stitches using the blanket stitch.
This ribbon is secured with a herringbone stitch.
The photo above shows ribbon secured with diagonal straight stitches.
This post was interesting if you’d like to see even more ideas for how you can couch ribbons.
This technique uses the satin stitch and laid thread to make a cord-like, raised stitch.
- Place one or multiple long stitches on the fabric.
- Work satin stitches over top of the entire length of the laid thread.
Roumanian Couching Stitch
The Roumanian couching stitch is a bit different than the first few because only one thread is used for the laid work and anchoring instead of two. It’s a great stitch to fill in small areas or leaves.
A great stitch to use for stems, the thorn stitch’s anchor stitches are crisscrossed down the length of the laid thread. This is another fun one to use two contrasting colors with.
Bokhara Couching Stitch
The Bokhara stitch’s characteristics are somewhat similar to the Roumanian stitch, but there are more anchor stitches involved. I think this one would be suitable to embroider a basket with.
- Start with one long stitch.
2. Make diagonal stitches across the thread.
3. Repeat underneath of the first group of stitches, each time staggering your anchor stitches so that they run diagonally across the entire area.
Just like the name suggests, this stitch resembles a trellis. A grid of laid threads is placed onto the fabric, and each corner is secured with an anchor stitch. This stitch is great for filling in large areas or just for decoration. You could even add more detail into the negative spaces like vines or flowers.
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. As you can see, there are so many different ways you can use these stitches. Combining different stitches with the couching stitch is so fun! Try one or a few of these out when you’re stitching your next embroidery project.
Amanda is a hand embroidery artist and teacher. With over 15 years of experience in the craft industry and embroidery, she owns and runs Crewel Ghoul, sharing tutorials and patterns to help inspire fellow crafters to get inspired and creative. In addition to running this website, she teaches on Skillshare and Youtube.