The stitch is worked right to left. Left-handed embroiderers will reverse this procedure.

Bring needle out at the bottom of the line of stitching (red arrow).

With the thread kept to the left, the needle goes straight up and then down at 2 (the top of the motif) and comes back out at 3.

Make a 90-degree tie-down stitch at the center. It should be snug, but not overly so.

Come back up at the bottom for the next long stitch.

According to Linn Skinner of Skinner Sisters Designs, this stitch was used in very early samplers along with rice stitch.

It can also be used to fill areas that require a central line, such as leaves. Also, the long stitches can be curved slightly (reference Mary Thomas’s “Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches”) to use in objects such as leaves – or borders.

According to some, the difference between Roman stitch and Romanian stitch is the angle of the couching stitch.

Some feel with Roman stitch, the tie-down stitch is exactly perpendicular at the center. Any other angle puts it in the Romanian stitch category.  However, from all examples I have found, the difference is the length of the couching stitch.  Later in this article, I discuss why I feel this is a good boundary line for the two stitches.The following graphics show the workings. The illustrations don’t show off the center couched stitch to advantage.



Once we move from a single couching stitch to multiple couches across an area, the term Roman stitch is changed and different “couching” names and techniques ensue.

It is my opinion, and not shared by everyone, that the following embroideries belong in the category of Roman stitch derivatives because of the tiny couching stitch used, sometimes at a very slight angle, sometimes quite perpendicular to the long laid stitch.



The example at left is a type of Bokhara couching shown in the Ballentine Pattern Library of Embroidery Stitches.  This unusual example shows the long threads first laid and the couching threads form a straight row – several across the larger area being stitched. Bokhara couching, in my opinion, is a variation of Roman stitch. Note the very nubby texture of the embroidery.


The example at left (from Pamela Clabburn’s encyclopedia) is a different example of Bokhara couching. The couching threads form a diagonal pattern along the long lengths of laid threads.

According to Clabburn, Bokhara (also spelled Bukhara) is a city in Uzbekistan (north of Afghanistan) which has always been known for its embroideries. She notes, “the designs have a great similarity to Iranian (Persian) ones and are often of formalized flowers, singly or in bunches, worked in colored silks on linen.”



This example is from from Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches.  The couching stitches in this motif create a brick pattern. In areas too small to couch, satin stitch is used.



Colcha Embroidery hails from New Mexico and is made of a wool ground and two strands of wool yarn.  It is a Spanish term for quilt or bedspread and also used to define embroidered hangings and covers made by the Spanish colonial settlers in New Mexico.

Clabburn considers it in a category of Rumanian couching. I disagree because of the short, perpendicular couching stitches used and the resultant pattern of the couching stitches (see Ballentine example).