Our friend Susan O’Dee (Mistress Briony, as she is known in the Society for Creative Anachronism) is a talented embroidery expert from New York State. Recently, we asked her what the top ten most useful embroidery stitches were, specifically for pre-1600 AD projects. She came out with a great list and graciously offered to film them for us. Number one on the hit parade is couching. This stitch was (and still is) used both as decoration and as a handy way to secure raw edges on seams. It’s particularly useful for outlining a design or working a neat textured applique edge. (This kind of applique is also known as “corded applique”.) Couching involves two threads, a laid thread (which is usually a thicker piece of yarn or even gold thread) and a couching thread (which is typically very small and not intended to be noticeable.) The laid thread makes the decoration on the surface of the fabric, and the couching thread secures it in place with a series of small stitches that are worked around the laid thread. Because the laid thread never goes through the ground fabric, you have great control. Which makes this stitch ideal for intricate curves and fancy designs.
Additional thanks to Pakshalika Kananbala for filming and editing the video.