Needlepoint couching is the term used for laying down and securing a thread on top of needlepoint canvas. This is in contrast to regular needlepoint stitches that are usually stitched into the canvas. It is a simple and useful technique that can be used to enhance many needlepoint designs.
When To Use Needlepoint Couching:
- To create even, smoothly curved lines.
- To add definition and texture to a feature on the needlepoint canvas.
- To introduce unusual fibers to your design– ones that might not thread through the canvas well, but can sit on top of it.
How To Do Needlepoint Couching
In general, you will use a thicker thread to lay on top of the needlepoint canvas and a finer thread to secure it down. For example, you might lay down a piece of thick tapestry yarn and secure it with one or two strands of embroidery cotton.
Any thread can be used for couching because it sits on top of the canvas. For example, you could use home spun wool to couch curls of fleece onto a sheep design. You could couch real fishing line on a canvas to represent a fishing line image. You could couch with fine strands of wire, raffia - almost anything.
The securing stitches are just simple tie down stitches. They can go in any direction, but a simple couching stitch goes over the couched thread and lies perpendicular to it. The securing stitches are spaced an even distance apart and close enough to ensure the underlying fiber is held securely in place. When navigating tight curves or corners you may need to place the securing stitches closer together in order to hold the couched thread to the canvas as it curves or turns.
Do not pull the securing stitches too tight as this will squash the couched fiber and give it an uneven appearance. The tie down stitches are gently holding the couched fiber in place.
Ideas For Needlepoint Couching
Needlepoint couching is a very effective tool for defining curves, letters, or any design object that you would like to draw attention to on your canvas. It is like outlining a feature in heavy marker pen – needlepoint couching makes objects on your canvas stand out more. Stitch it in after you have completed all the other needlepoint stitches.
You could couch the wallpaper or other patterned detail in a design like this White Rabbit to give it an embossed texture.
Or the thin lettering on a design like this Merry Christmas by Kirk and Bradley.
Or the accents on this Charley Harper needlepoint Bee.
Almost any needlepoint canvas has an opportunity for couching - to show perspective, to enhance detail, to add texture, to create a line. Try it!!