One of my favorite things about quilting is taking traditional projects and turning them into something really unique. Couching is one of those techniques that takes a beautiful quilt design and actually makes the design three-dimensional and playful to touch. Give couching a try if you are looking to create a standout quilt for children, babies, or a snuggly holiday project. I think you’ll really love the results!
What is couching?
Couching a quilt is the process of utilizing yarn instead of traditional thread to quilt fabric. Different effects can be achieved by playing with various types of yarn and thickness. Couching requires a proper sewing machine foot that can handle the larger yarn. You can couch baby blankets, Christmas stockings, kids’ quilts, art quilts, comforters. or anything you are really wanting to have the quilt design shine through.
How to Couch a Quilt
In this project, I was starting a baby gift for a sweet cousin about to have her first baby. Turned out the nursery was being decorated in purple (which happens to be my favorite color) so I was thrilled to make her a beautiful purple quilt. I found four purple batiks and some soft purple cuddle (or minky) fabric for the back. I had decided that I wanted to couch some velvet yarn (you can find it HERE–I picked mine up at Joann’s). Couching tends to take over the design because it stands out so much. Especially if you use a thicker yarn like a size 4 or above. My velvet yarn was a size 5. I knew this was a bold color choice as well so I knew the design was going to have to be simple and basic.
Start by ironing the fabric. I love using Best Press when I iron. It is a clear starch alternative that gives your fabric a little bit of body and helps keep those points nice and straight but won’t shrink your fabric.
Cut 8 1/2” strips from each of the four purple fabrics. Turn those strips and cut them into 8 1/2” squares. I wanted my squares to be 8” finished so I added 1/2” for my ¼” seam allowances.
Layout the blocks into a pleasing design. You can either opt for a repeated pattern or place them at random (that’s what I did). Sew together.
Put the quilt on a longarm machine with the couching foot on. Handiquilter offers three different sizes in one kit. I used the pink (2mm) size foot for my size 4 velvet yarn. When couching with Bernat blanket (chenille) yarn that is size 6, I use the yellow (3mm) foot.
CAUTION: Be very careful with the velvet yarn. It’s kind of like a pipe cleaner, in that it has a very tiny core, and the fuzz sticks straight out from the core so there isn’t a lot of stability. It really is better for a wall quilt that won’t be touched as much. I discovered this after I couched two quilts. I like the Bernat Blanket yarn so much better for a quilt that will be used a lot. It has a much larger core, almost like a rolled fabric so the thread really tacks it down and it’s quite strong.
Again, couching is an opportunity to let the quilting design be the star. So I highly recommend couching over simple fabrics or monochromatic quilts. When done correctly, couching really is one of the most beautiful ways to add dimension and warmth to your already gorgeous quilted projects.
Want to have us couch a quilt for you? Take a look at our order form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions!
Hello! I make quilts been trying to learn to quilt all 3 layers together with my brother home machine. Today I watched Sew With Nancy. Referring to couch stitching. Which really interested me.
I’ve tried finding directions or video step by step. How to do couching on a finished quilt. There is none.
Would you be able to brake directions down for us beginners?
Jacque C. MI
Hi Jacque! We are in the process of creating a YouTube video that explains this exact thing. Once you have a couching foot for your machine plus the right yarn, give it a try. In the meantime feel free to ask us any questions. You can find us on YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. Happy quilting.