Fabric swatch showing appliqué couching around a floral stencil on plum-colored fabric.


Couching is another age-old technique that we employ over, and over again as a design practice at Alabama Chanin.

When embellishing, we often use cotton jersey pulls as appliqué to give weight and a sculptural quality to our crafted garments and home goods.

From page 110 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design:

“At Alabama Chanin, we use the term couching to describe a form of appliqué in which cotton jersey ropes are appliquéd to a base fabric with a parallel whipstitch, following a design stenciled on the fabric.”


As one of our advanced techniques, couching requires a steady hand and thoughtful eye to hold the fabric into position as you sew. In the image above, the fabric is worked in our Anna’s Garden stencil with Pearl cotton yarn, or couching cord, as an alternative to our cotton jersey pulls. Using the same technique, this couching cord provides a finer amount of detail and a lighter weight than fabrics worked with our cotton jersey ropes. Here, we chose to embroider both the inside and outside of our stenciled shapes.

As I was cleaning and organizing for our Garage Sale, I came across a basket of Pearl cotton yarn and embroidery floss that have been used on special projects and in collections over the years. We incorporated many of these hand-wound spools into our notion lots for the sale and still have baskets full for the next.

Pearl (or perle) cotton yarn is a 2-ply, hi-sheen, twisted thread that is often used in appliqué, embroidery, knitting, and needlework. Not to be interchanged with embroidery floss which has six separable plies (or strands), Pearl cotton yarn is made up of two twisted plies that give it a rope-like appearance – hence the term ‘couching cord’. Add dimension and texture to your fabric design using our couching technique with your preferred yarn or fabric. Look for more Pearl cotton yarn in our next Garage Sale.


Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Fabric color top layer – Plum
Fabric color back layer – Plum
Button Craft thread – Burgundy
Stencil – Anna’s Garden
Textile paint – Pearl Charcoal
Couching material – Plum Cotton Jersey Pulls
Embroidery technique – Couching


Fabric weight – 100% organic medium-weight cotton jersey
Fabric color top layer – Midnight
Fabric color back layer – White
Button Craft thread – Slate
Stencil – Anna’s Garden
Couching cord – 3/2 Pearl Cotton Yarn 134 Cactus 
Embroidery technique – Couching

4 comments on “DIY COUCHING CORD

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  1. Kim Bennett

    Have you seen the brand new Vogue Knitting? They have a shawl , bag and something else knitted from yarn that is made of “jersey pulls” from recycled tee shirts. Natalie did you have anything to do with this?

  2. amisha

    I am amazed at the difference in effect from the jersey pull couching! It’s so delicate and beautiful combined with reverse applique.