For the surgical technique, see Couching (ophthalmology).
Detail of the Bayeux Tapestry showing fillings in laid work.

In embroidery, couching and laid work are techniques in which yarn or other materials are laid across the surface of the ground fabric and fastened in place with small stitches of the same or a different yarn.[1]

The couching threads may be either the same color as the laid threads or a contrasting color. When couching threads contrast with laid threads, patterns may be worked in the couching stitches.[2]


Laid work is one of two techniques used in the Bayeux Tapestry, an embroidered cloth probably dating to the later 1070s. (The other technique is stem stitch.)[3]

Underside couching of metal thread was characteristic of earlier Opus Anglicanum in Medieval England and was also used historically in Sicily and rarely in other parts of Italy and France.[4] Couching is also characteristic of Japanese metal-thread embroidery and Central Asian suzani work.

Another example of Islamic embroidery is the strong tradition of couching stitch in Palestine. Production centered on Bethlehem and its two neighbouring villages Beit Sahour and Beit Jalla; it was used for wedding dresses and formal wear.[5]

Couching stitch from Beit Jalla. 2006.


Stitch gallery


  1. Enthoven, Jacqueline: The Creative Stitches of Embroidery, Van Norstrand Rheinhold, 1964, ISBN 0-442-22318-8, p. 165
    • Wilson, Erica Erica Wilson's Embroidery Book, New York: Scribner, 1973, pp. 84-86.
  2. Levey, S. M. and D. King, The Victoria and Albert Museum's Textile Collection Vol. 3: Embroidery in Britain from 1200 to 1750, Victoria and Albert Museum, 1993, ISBN 1-85177-126-3
  3. Lemon, Jane: Metal Thread Embroidery, Sterling, 2004, ISBN 0-7134-8926-X, p. 112.
  4. Weir, Shelagh (1989) Palestinian Costume. British Museum. ISBN 0-7141-1597-5. Page 127.
  5. Enthoven: The Creative Stitches of Embroidery, p. 165-175
  6. Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework. The Reader's Digest Association, Inc. (March 1992). ISBN 0-89577-059-8, p. 32-33, 44-45
  7. Lemon, Metal Thread Embroidery, p. 112.

External links


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