How to Machine Couch Without a Couching Foot

how to couch without a couching foot

Watch the video tutorial below or scroll down for the written instructions

What is Couching?

Couching is a technique where you lay yarn, thread, ribbon, etc on top of your fabric and stitch them in place with a zigzag or fancy stitch, either in a similar thread or a contrasting thread.

Couching adds interest and texture to your projects. I love playing around with different wools, threads, embroidery threads, lace, wool roving, and assorted cords to make my projects pop.


Do You Need a Special Couching Foot?

A specialized cording foot is a great machine accessory if you love embellishing your fabric projects. But what if you don’t have a couching foot for your machine? Well, that’s okay, you don’t need to have a special foot to do this.

What Can I Couch On?

  • You can couch on just about any type of fabric, always do a test first to make sure your machine can handle it.
  • If you are using quilting or lightweight fabric you will need to add a piece of batting or some sort of stabilizer to the back, otherwise, the fabric will pucker and ruin the look of your piece.
  •  If you are using denim, canvas or a heavyweight fabric you may not need to add stabilizer. But do make sure that you do a test piece to start with as you don’t want to ruin your project.

  • You can also add the backing if you are making a quilt or bag. The couching stitches will help to keep the quilt backing into place. If you don’t want to have the couching stitches show through on the backing piece, then leave it off until you have finished couching.

Some projects won’t require a backing fabric but finer fabrics will always need a stabilizer.

So What Do You Need?

  • An assortment of wool, cord, wool roving, ribbon, lace and even thin strips of fabric will work. In fact, you can use just about anything that your machine will handle.

Make sure the wool is not too thick. Up to about an 8 ply works well. You need to be able to zigzag over the wool etc.

  •  Check your machine’s manual to make sure you have the right foot attached. It needs to be the foot that you use for zigzag stitches.

What to do Next

  • Select the zigzag stitch on your machine.

  • Place the cord, wool, etc on top of the fabric, have it extend about 2″ past the edge of the fabric.
  • Line the cord up with the center of the foot.

Manually test the zigzag stitch is going to go right over the cord and that the needle isn’t going to come down in the middle of the cord and split it. You can do this by turning the handwheel on your machine. This will also ensure that your needle doesn’t hit the foot.

  • Adjust the length of the stitch to what appeals to you. Bear in mind that you don’t want it to be too narrow as it will totally flatten the cord, and we want it to be puffed up so that it sits nicely above the fabric.
  • Once you are happy with the stitch placement, sew down the length of the cord.

  • You can just sew straight lines or do some gentle curves.
  • Geometric lines look great as well.
  • You can even draw or trace a line drawing onto the fabric and couch around it.

couching, quilting, sewing,

So as you can see there are so many options to how you can add couching to make your projects look great.