Couching: Free Motion Style Quilting
Good Morning, Quilters!
Today, I am sharing a small couching project that I stitched for my third book (available Spring, 2020).
Bad News: this project got cut from the book.
Good News: that means I can share it with you now!
What is Couching?
Couching is a great quilting or embroidery technique that allows you to stitch bold designs with very heavy weight thread, yarn, or cording. The heavy weight thread is laid on the surface and stitched in place by lighter weight thread.
What Foot is Best?
Most sewing machine manufacturers offer one or more feet that guide the heavy weight thread.
You can do straight line couching with BERNINA’s Bulky Overlock foot #12C or the Braiding foot #21.
Or you can do more complex, free motion designs with the Free Motion Couching Foot #43 as seen below. (NOTE-BERNINA recently introduced couching clips that attach to the Ruler foot, #72. I just got a set–will report on that soon!)
First, thread the machine for normal sewing with lightweight thread in the top and bobbin. Then thread the couching foot with the heavy weight yarn or cording.
What Materials are Best?
I’ve been experimenting with a variety of heavy weight thread, specialty threads, braids and even nylon cording. They all have very different effects.
In this project, I used lightweight nylon cording.
Free Motion Motifs
You can adapt mots of the free motion motifs available here for couching.
For now, I think I’ll use this technique and cording to make a few pillows.
Soon, I want to try lighter weight yarn.
American Quilter Magazine
There’s a great article on couching with yarn by Bethanne Nemesh in the July, 2019 issue of American Quilter Magazine.
Speaking of American Quilter Magazine–did you notice my ever-changing look in My Line with Lori Kennedy? Someone is having a little photoshop fun with me!
What About YOU?
Have YOU ever tried machine couching?
What projects did you use it for?
Which yarn, threads and cording were YOUR favorite?
We’d LOVE to hear!
From my davenport to your sofa!
PS….All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy Quilts and are intended for personal use only. Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to LKQ. For all other purposes, please contact me at Lori@LoriKennedyQuilts.com. Thanks!
11 responses to “Couching: Free Motion Style Quilting”
Hi Lori, yes, I have tried freemotion couching with mixed results. Originally I was using the Bernina couching foot with both my domestic and long arm machines. Unless I could find the perfect size cord or yarn I would have problems when going in certain directions, and even then my results were mixed. About a year ago I purchased the clips that snap into my free motion foot and now I’m having much better results. A couple things that have helped include going slow, having plenty of loose couching material on my surface, and using a shorter stitch length (if in regulated mode). I try for about 16 stitches per inch. The new clips allow me to use a greater variety of materials. I’m still not where I’d like to be, but with practice I’m definitely getting better. What a fun embellishment technique.
Haha! My first thought was that couching had something to do with completing quilting projects while sitting on the couch (rather than hunched over a sewing machine.). No such luck. 🙂
Your example is beautiful though…..maybe someday…
I do a fair amount of couching – depending on the project du jour. I am a Pfaffie. The new Pfaff’s evidently have a free motion couching foot available I cannot get one for my older Pfaff. I’ve seen a vendor at Paducah a few years ago that had a free-motion couching foot but for some reason my quilt-y brain wasn’t registering the whole “free-motion AND couching foot” I think I only registered the “free-motion” part and I didn’t get the foot and now I can’t find the vendor. I’ve been kicking myself ever since for not getting that foot. Pfaff does have a cording foot for larger yarns/cords which is good for reasonably straight couching. Pfaff also has a 5 and 7-hole foot for threading and couching multiple threads at once with a decorative machine stitch. It’s great for straight and gentle curved couching. I agree with Linda, generally going slow and shortening the stitch length and width is helpful. Now, does anyone know what vendor that was at Paducah that had the free-motion couching foot? It’s the only thing she sold as I recall.
hi linda S. I have the bernina couching foot. but what are these clips? can you show a picture please and thanks
Hi Miriam, the new clips are little button like pieces with a hole in the center that snap into the ruler foot. I am not a home currently,so cannot send a picture, but will do so when I return(in about a week). If I find a picture online before I return home, I’ll send it along.
Miriam, here’s a link to a site where you can see the clips. The different clips has different sized holes so that you can use different diameters of cording.
This post tells about them and links to BERNINA https://lorikennedyquilts.com/bernina-university-whats-new-for-machine-quilting/
Thank you Lori. I’m not at home and tried to find a picture of the inserts. I’m sorry not to have found your link.
I love to couch! I have a hq longarm with a couching foot. I have done many quilts with chenille yarn. All free motion and all sizes. Mine is lovely. Too much fun!
I had fun making snow with fluffy white chenile yarn this winter
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