Using Couching To Decorate Your Quilt


Quilting Contessa discusses how to use couching to decorate your quilt. It is a fun and rewarding way to decorate your quilts. Share with others.

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Using Couching To Decorate Your Quilt

A photo of a quilt with couching came across my internet feed. I showed it to my husband but had to make sure that he knew that "couching" didn't mean spending a week on the sofa watching TV!

Using Couching To Decorate Your Quilt


Couching is a technique for using yarn or metal or ribbons to decorate a quilt when they are too large to be sewn through the fabric. These larger threads are laid on the fabric and sewn to it at regular intervals. In Medieval England, the term Opus Anglicanum referred to an embroidery technique using metal thread, often gold. There are several variations of couching from Japan, Palestine, and others.


My husband chose Christmas fabric scraps for his quilt and purchased a bulky candy striped yarn for his couching. I'll give you a preview of his quilt as it appeared on the design wall so you can see the effect of the couching.



To achieve this look, he cut the white blocks for the quilt and then, using disappearing ink, drew a line down the center of the block. Next, he used a disappearing glue to attach the strips of yarn to the white blocks.



We decided that he would do the stitching with his walking foot because the yarn was quite bulky, and we thought it would do a better job. This was a good decision.



It wasn't long before he had built up his skill to the point where he felt he could skip the gluing.



He sewed the blocks into vertical columns instead of rows. This way he would have only one yarn tail to tuck into each seam. We thought sewing the tails into the seams would strengthen the quilt. Horizontal rows would have meant stopping for each tail as he moved across the rows.


Soon the quilt was assembled and on the quilting machine. I thought that it might snag the quilting machine a little to have the bulky couching, but my husband reports that he can't even feel it as he quilts.

quilt machine


If you need to try something new in quarantine, it might be time for couching!


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The basic unit of a quilt top, usually square but can be rectangular or other shapes. Blocks can be pieced, appliqued or plain.
Design Wall
Any wall where you can position quilt blocks, then step back to view the layout at a distance. Quilters often hang batting or plain white flannel on their design walls, because quilt blocks and other components stick to it easily without pinning. Heavier commercial design walls are available.
Walking Foot
A special foot which can be attached to a sewing machine which helps to feed the top layer of a quilt fabric sandwich evenly with the feed dogs feeding the bottom fabric.
Debi Warner
Author and humorist, Debi Warner, retired after many years as a clinical librarian and information specialist. She has her Master’s in Library and Information Science and achieved a Distinguished level in the Medical Library Association’s Association of Health Information Professionals. She has worked on teaching physicians to use computers and electronic resources. She also worked on several grants teaching the public how to use the National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus public database and is co-author of several articles on health literacy. She took up quilting after retirement in 2012 and chaired the Rio Grande Valley Quilt Show in 2019. She currently teaches several quilting classes over Zoom and writes for QuiltingHub.
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