Couching

Couching is an easy, fun way to follow a curve in hand embroidery. You can use regular embroidery floss for this stitch, like I've done in the examples below, or even something that's usually a bit harder to work with in hand embroidery, like yarn or metallic floss.


Photo of an embroidery hoop with three colorful circles stitched onto white fabric.
finished couched stitches

I've provided photo and written instructions below; if, however, you learn best from video instruction, you'll find a video tutorial at the end of this post!


Step 1: Gather your supplies and draw your guidelines.


For this example, I'll be using just three strands of cotton embroidery floss. I've chosen to stitch a circle, which I've drawn onto cotton fabric using a heat-erasable transfer pen.


Step 2: Bring up a strand of floss that you want to be "couched" down to your fabric.


You won't be bringing this strand of floss back down through your fabric until you're done with your line of stitching.


Note: If you're working with yarn or metallic floss, this is the step at which you'd be bringing up that material - couching is a great way to get yarn and metallic floss into your embroidery!



Step 3: Bring up a second strand of floss.


I'm using a contrasting color here because I think it's easier to follow, but you can use the same color of floss here if you like.



Step 4: Make a single, tiny straight stitch over the floss you first brought through your fabric.


This will be your first couching stitch.



Step 5: Repeat your couching until you've finished with your line of stitching.


As with any stitch that follows a curve (such as stem or outline, whipped back stitch, back stitch, split back stitch, chain stitch, etc.), I recommend keeping the distance between your stitches shorter when working with tighter curves, and trying to keep the distance between stitches relatively uniform.



Here's what my line of stitching looks like when I'm about halfway finished with my line of stitching:



Step 6: Once your'e done with your line of stitching, bring your original (couched) floss down through your fabric.


If your line of stitching was a circle, like mine, you can hide where you've brought your floss back down by placing one last couch over the point at which your floss begins and ends.



And here's what it looks like when you're done!



Video tutorial for couching



I hope this was helpful to you! If you're a new stitcher interested in learning through a kit, almost all of my kits include full-length, step-by-step video tutorials! You can find available kits in my shop.