What is Couching?
In embroidery, couching and laid work are techniques in which yarn or other materials are laid across the surface of the ground fabric and fastened in place with small stitches of the same or a different yarn.
The couching threads may be either the same color as the laid threads or contrasting color. When couching threads contrast with laid threads, patterns may be worked in the couching stitches.
- In couching, one or more threads are laid on the fabric surface and sewn to the fabric at regular intervals.
Definition Credit to Wikipedia
Think of pinstripes for cars…..
Whenever we shop for things we look at the details and if it pleases our eye. Every day we have the opportunity to notice clothes, cars, houses…you name it, there are design details everywhere. The fine arts are all about details and the sewing world can be too. Sewing can be much more than sewing seams together! There are endless details that we can add to a project with our innovative machines and accessories.
Back in the Middle Ages and Renaissance years, before the invention of the sewing machine, hand sewing and embroidery were fine art. One of these techniques called couching, from a French word meaning laid or laid work, used beautiful and expensive threads and yarns laid on the surface of the fabric, and various styles of hand stitches sewn with matching or contrasting sewing thread held them on. Gold metallic threads, textured or thick yarns could be incorporated into the surface design without actually sewing with them. The stitches themselves were as much about the art of couching as the threads and yarns they were holding on as they scrolled and twirled about. This technique was also used to fill in larger areas and create designs and motifs.
Today there are many ways to replicate the hand arts with modern technology and couching is easier now with the help of specialized feet. With all the decorative stitch patterns in most sewing machines today there are endless possibilities without the tedious handwork. It is odd that our machines do more today yet we do not see nearly as much detail as in the days of old when everything was done by hand.
The reasons that our sewing ancestors used couching are the same as we use it today. It is a way to use unusual and fun threads. Thick thread that does not fit in a needle, textured thread that would shred, cords, beads, trims, all can be couched with the sewing machine. Even if your machine is limited to a zigzag, you can couch with a foot that will allow the cord to pass under it, it will sew over those easily as they are laid on the fabric.
There are a number of different accessory feet to aid the couching process. Choose the foot style according to the thickness of the thread, cord, yarn, or trim that will be sewn on. Look for a channel or groove that is closest to the size of the thread or cord. Some feet have several small holes that can accommodate multiple cords laid next to each other, and there are stitch patterns that will sew each cord individually to hold each one in place. For heavy cords or beads, look for a foot with a very large groove.
Thread choices for the actual sewing can be varied as well. Matching the thread to the cord color is certainly an option for the cord itself to be the main focal point. Invisible thread works well to conceal the stitches. Contrasting the colors of thread and cord and a defining stitch pattern provides more interest and more creative options. Keep in mind that variegated, metallic, and rayon threads can be combined with the cords and stitch patterns and you will have endless varieties and excitement to select from.
Feet Available from Bernina
- Bernina Foot #12C – Bulky overlock – very large groove for very large cords, yarns, beads, pearls. It also has a single opening on top like the braiding foot 21
- Bernina Foot #21 – Braiding Foot – has a single hole on top for guiding medium to medium heavy cord
- Bernina Foot #22 – Cording Foot – can accommodate one, two or three small cords laid next to each other
- Bernina Foot #25 – Cording foot – like the Bernina Foot #22 but this foot can accommodate up to five small cords laid next to each other
- Bernina Foot #59/59C – Double-Cord Foot – 59 / 59C enables the simultaneous couching of two parallel cords with a diameter of 4 to 6mm.
- Bernina Foot #60/60C – Double-Cord Foot 60 / 60C allows the simultaneous couching of two parallel cords 7 to 8 mm in diameter.
Feet Available from Husqvarna Viking
- Husqvarna Viking 3 Hole Yarn Foot Part # 413187045 – use one, two or three small to medium yarns next to each other
- Husqvarna Viking 7 Hole Cord Foot Part # 412989945 – use up to seven small yarns or heavy thread next to each other
- Husqvarna Viking Braiding Foot Part # has hole on top for medium yarns or cords
- Husqvarna Viking Narrow Braiding / Cording Foot Part # 411850945
- Husqvarna Viking Fancy Trim Foot Part # 412823845 – can guide sequins or tape
- Husqvarna Viking Clear 2-3 Embellishment Foot Part # 413030445 – for small pearls or cords
- Husqvarna Viking Mini Bead 4mm Part # 412701145 – medium beads or cords
- Husqvarna Viking Gimping Foot Part # 412580545
- Husqvarna Viking Twin Gimping Foot Part # 920302096 with braiding guide – one channel or two for small cord or heavy thread, twin gimp can use a double needle, guide can help control the threads. Use satin stitch for raised or dimensional couching.
- Husqvarna Viking Gimping / Braiding Guide Part # 412554445
- Husqvarna Viking Yarn Embellishment Foot Set Part # 920403096
- Husqvarna Viking Yarn Couching Foot Set Part # 920215096
- Husqvarna Viking Ribbon Feet Set Part # 920239096
Have you visited the Husqvarna Viking Online Accessory Catalog? Check it out HERE A great resource for all your Husqvarna Viking accessory needs!
Feet Available from PFAFF
- Beading Foot 4mm Part # 820604096
- Beading Foot 6mm Part # 820605096
- Decorative Trim Foot Part # 820614096
- 7/9 Hold Cord Foot Part # 820608096
- Three Hole Yarn Foot Part # 820920096
- Yarn Couching Foot Set Part # 820912096
- Couching / Braiding Foot Part # 820607096
Have you visited the Pfaff Online Accessory Catalog? Check it out HERE A great resource for all your PFAFF accessory needs!