May 2, 2015

Learn the Couched Filling Stitch

I don't know about all of you, dear readers, but I am so relived that it's finally the weekend. It's been so busy in my little world that I was thrilled to find the time to sit down and teach myself a new stitch from my encyclopedia this month, and it turned out to be a fun one!

Today we're going to learn something called the Couched Filling Stitch, also known as Jacobean couching. It's simple but the result is really fun! I love fill stitches like this that are open and airy. They lend themselves to so many different uses. This one is also a great fill stitch because the whole fill is worked at once, meaning you see progress much faster! 

Let's dive in! I'm working in a plain weave fabric, with two different colors of stranded floss. This stitch would also be beautiful on aida or canvas where you can count out your spacing and be really precise. It's extremely important to use a frame or hoop to stretch your fabric though, as we'll be starting with some long stitches that we want to keep tight and even. I'd also recommend a ruler and a pencil or (preferably) a water soluble pen. 

The first thing you need to do with this stitch is lay out your foundation stitches. You can eye ball it if you wish or count your stitches on your aida, but I used a ruler to make tick marks every quarter of an inch across my hoop. I did the same thing from top to bottom, making a right angle with my hash marks. You can see the cross section in pencil in the photo below.

Now you can begin stitch. You're going to create long stitches all the way across your hoop. Start in one direction (I chose top to bottom) and make all of those stitches first.

In the first picture, you can see how I used the ruler to guide my stitches and kept them aligned with the hash marks and nice and straight. This isn't necessary, but it really helped. Once you have all your stitches from top to bottom, do the same thing from side to side on top. (This is where a water soluble pen and a super tight hoop come in handy! You can see a few pencil marks because my fabric came a little loose while I was stitching.)

Unlike some other couching stitches where you have to weave your foundation stitches together, this one doesn't need that. It's going to look loose and messy at this point, but once we add our final step it will all fall into place.

Now that our whole area is covered in this grid, we're going to add individual cross stitches at every intersection to anchor the threads. You can begin anywhere in the area that you like. Simply choose an intersection and come up with your needle in the bottom left corner and go back through your fabric in the top right corner. Come up again in the top left, finishing in the bottom right.

Repeat this step at every intersection! If you're filling in a shape you can use different colors on your cross stitch to add shading or use a different texture from your foundation grid.

This would be a great fill stitch for any kind of silhouette project, and actually made me think of stars while I worked. It would be fun to use similar colored fabric and grid thread, and a metallic thread in certain spots to stitch the big dipper or other constellation. Of course, it also looks nice all on its own! 

I myself went a little rouge on my hoop. It's fun knowing how to complete all the traditional stitches, if only so I can break the rules when I use them later! 

I loved how geometric this was turning out, so I decided to leave a portion of my hoop open at the top with only vertical grid stitches, and to fill in only sections of my grid with cross stitches. Sometimes it's fun to use embroidery to simply create a texture, not stitch a particular object. Of course, you can see some spots where I missed the pencil marks completely, but those will erase right out! 

Well I hope you enjoyed learning the couched fill stitch, and if you already knew it I hope I inspired you to try it again in a fun new way! Be sure to upload your examples  of this stitch to the Flickr Pool for everyone to see and leave me a comment with any questions or suggestions. See you next time! 

Hi, I'm Whitney - I share a new embroidery stitch on the blog once a month, learning as I stitch along with the rest of the blog. Embroidery is my first and true crafty love, though I also enjoy painting, sewing and other crafts. My other loves include graphic design, craft beer and baking.

You can also find me on my blog Whitney Makes and on Tumblr.


  1. This looks great! I can imagine all kinds of possibilities for this stitch - can't wait to try this one myself :) Thanks!

  2. Thanks, Audrey! I'm glad you're inspired!

    I'll be sure to pass along your commenting concerns to our editor for review. Thanks!