We all live and die for thread. But sometimes thread simply isn’t enough! Thicker yarns and cords are the natural extension for a more dramatic line in quilting and surface design. We can use them in a number of ways to accent and accentuate our work.
Or you might want to create a line that helps complete a visual path through your piece. The small bit of yarn carries your eye right across the surface.
Thick threads and yarns are easy to include in your designs! But it isn’t as simple as simply sewing them through the machine. They’re too thick or uneven to put through either the top or bottom of your sewing machine. But they can be couched. The options and possibilities are too wide for simply one foot to handle all of them, but there are all kinds of feet that accommodate different yarns, ribbons and threads so you can use them all.
All yarns can be couched by hand. But some of us don’t hand sew well. These are methods I find work well with machine couching. In general, couching is usually done with feed dogs up. You can use either a zigzag stitch,a broken zigzag stitch, a straight stitch if it’s aimed carefully, or a joining stitch that catches the middle and both sides. Monofilament nylon will make the stitching invisible. But you can always use a bright colored polyester to add an extra color and texture.
Your Regular Pressure Foot
Thin and bumpy threads: Many thick and thin threads can be couched on with your regular pressure foot
Your regular pressure foot for most sewing has a groove down the center that you can run light yarns through.
Much thicker yarns take a thread escape.
A foot with a large channel underneath lets the yarn pass through. Again any zigzag or joining stitch can be used to attach it.
This couching foot with a wide thread escape that let’s you couch on all kinds of thicker threads.This foot also has a small hole through the top to guide medium yarns. Medium yarns pass through both holes easily for excellent control.For much thicker yarns, you can just run them through the bottom of the foot.
All these yarns run easily through your machine because of the large thread escape in the foot. They were stitched with a joining stitch.
The Braiding Foot
This braiding foot arranges 3 smaller cords or threads into a braid. The yummy pearl cottons I showed you last week are perfect for this. There’s another foot set to braid 5. The Braiding foot with 3 thread channels loads from the top and has a bar that closes to hold the threads in place. You can use either a zigzag or broken zigzag to stitch down the cords. The effect is a flat braid made of your threads.
Sashay yarn is a new fiber we’re seeing in the yarn shops. Its loose open weave can be stretched and shaped in all kinds of ways. Because it catches on the foot, it helps to have a cut away foot that clears the yarn as we sew it. This foot originally set up for cutaway applique with its single toe makes it easier to stitch down.
It can be sewed straight or in waves, down either one side for a more textural effect or on both sides for a more controlled look.
Couching is a way to put extra fiber in your fiber! And its sew much fun!
One of the new Quilting Arts tutorials has a couching video on it. Check it out for more information.