Simple to work, beautiful results.  As in laid work, these stitches can be used for large design areas not suitable for satin stitch. The results create rich texture and interesting patterns, depending upon how you employ them. You can also use them effectively in medium-sized and small motifs as well as bands and borders.

General Directions:    You will need to use a hoop or frame to maintain constant tension.   The stitches show off to full advantage

when used with medium to heavy-weight threads. Pearl cotton 5 or 8 or Kanagawa silk are excellent choices. Three strands of floss also show them off to advantage. For fine work, one strand of floss or a fine twisted silk works as well.  Any ground is suitable, although regionally, certain grounds were employed.

Use longer lengths of thread than you would ordinarily employ, otherwise you will constantly have to begin and end threads.



An extremely versatile stitch. Depending upon the angle, length, and region where it used, it is called by several names: janina stitch, figure stitch, oriental couching, antique couching, Indian stitch (Mountmellick work).  Dillmont states it came from Persia.



In the above leaf, note how the inner area was marked to keep the couching stitches even. The needle comes out at the bottom of the motif, and with thread kept to the left, put needle in at the top of the motif and come back out about 1/8-inch below.

Finish the couching stitch by putting the needle back down a quarter inch or so and coming back out at the bottom, ready to start the next stitch. Note the ribbed effect of the finished stitches



This is the Indian stitch used in Mountmellick. It is a variation of Romanian stitch. Note the long couching thread at the wide center area. The final appearance is like velvet, slightly undulating, but the divisions are barely noticeable.

The directions for this illustration came from the Lacis reprint of the many Weldon’s (UK) publication on the subject of Mountmellick. Today, teachers in Ireland are recommending that the true nature of this stitch in their work is less precise for the couching in order to create a more natural flow, less defined. The couching stitches should not all be the same length, nor start and end at the same spot.  See the following notes on Romanian couching.


Romanian Couching

From Romanian stitch we advance to the method known as Romanian couching.  Here long threads are laid across large motifs and long or medium length couching threads are made, depending upon the final effect you want. When worked to create a satiny “fill” rather than a patterned fill, long couching is worked, picking up just a few threads of the ground in between (from the Chinese, known as figure stitch). In the example at left (altered slightly from the original in the Ballentine Pattern Library), the couching stitches are shorter – but not as tiny as in Bokhara.


This is a work done almost entirely in Romanian couching. The collar is in laid work. Smaller areas are satin stitched.

The longest dress fold is 1-1/4 inches (3 cm). That is far too long for satin stitch. In this example, the technique for figure stitch is used – very long couching stitches, picking up a tiny amount of ground between the couching stitches, and the couching stitch is at such an oblique angle as to blend in with minimal patterning.

For Mary’s hair, the couching was controlled to emulate curls and form. Romanian couching is very easy to curve and manage in this way. To obtain different light reflections, the dress folds were laid and couched to contrast with surrounding areas.

For the first part of this discussion, proceed to
Couching Part One – Roman Stitch