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Couching, also known as laid work, is an embroidery technique that involves a laying a trim or other fiber on the surface of fabric and stitching over it with thread to hold it in place. Historically, embroidery stitches were used to hold the trims in place as seen on Crazy Quilts.  Couched fibers like yarn can be used in many different ways to add a new layer of design and dimension. Historically couching was done by hand, but it probably won't surprise you that some sewing machines and some long arm machines also have couching feet that will allow you to couch fibers. Don't worry if you don't have that capability, if you have a machine that will zigzag stitch you can couch with that if you have a foot that will travel over a trim or decorative fiber.

Benefits of Couching

  • Couching is a great way to use your beautiful yarns or specialty threads across the surface of a quilt.
  • Couching a trim or fiber on your quilt can add layers of design on the top of the quilt to accentuate pieced or applique blocks and provide a tactile layer.
  • Couching can be a design element on it's own in a block.

Tools and Supplies for Couching

To start Couching, you will need:

  • Trim, Yarn, Embroidery threads, Decorative fibers
  • Needles and thread for hand sewing
  • Sewing machine with couching or zigzag foot
What I Wish I Knew When I Started Couching

Embroidery, including COUCHING can make a quilt more interesting and highlight design details.  Couching can be used to add fine stems to applique.

Couching Resources