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This tutorial is an extract from Chinese Embroidery: An Illustrated Stitch Guide by Shao Xiancheng. This book gives an interesting history of Chinese embroidery before covering the stitches and techniques. There are then 40 stunning projects for you to make.

 Gold/silver thread couching stitch tutorial

Gold/Silver Thread Couching Stitch

In terms of this needlework, tacking threads are used to fix stiff gold or silver threads on the surface of fabrics. Gold or silver threads cannot be fixed firmly unless tacking threads are used since they are colorful firm sewing threads. Gold or silver threads can also set off the color of tacking threads. When desirable colors of tacking threads are chosen, the unique style of gold/silver thread couching stitch could be more prominent.

This needlework is applied extensively in various Chinese embroidery schools. Slight changes can give embroidered articles special features.

 Chinese Embroidery book extract

  1. Use two strands of gold or silver threads to apply this stitch. Put the end of the gold thread through the needle eye first and then fold it to align both ends of this thread, hence having strung strands of threads. Bring the needle out at the central point of the triangle petal.

    Tacking gold or silver threads when doing embroidery

  2. Gold thread couching stitch is done from the center outward while they are being tacked. They are triangle petals. Therefore, at the beginning of couching, the direction of gold threads should be fixed by red sewing threads with running stitch. Be sure that strands of gold threads should be respectively tacked with tacking threads at every turns to make it easier to wind.

    How to sew couching stitch

  3. Tacking threads should be even with reasonable space in between to make it attractive. With the petals fully couched, insert the needle strung with the gold thread at the point shown above and bring the gold thread to the reverse of the fabric to complete the petals.

    How to do Chinese Embroidery

  4. Start to embroider the leaves after the three petals are done. Bring the gold thread out at the central point of one leaf. In the wake of it, the gold thread is couched along the outline of the leaf that are tacked by the green threads at the same time.

    Needlework tutorials - sewing with gold or silver thread

  5. Gold threads are basically a single color. Changing the color of tacking threads can set off the color of gold threads. As shown in the picture, gold threads look green when leaf blades are tacked by green sewing threads, while gold threads look red when the petals are tacked by red sewing threads.

    Sewing a goldwork flower

  6. With couching done, insert the needle strung with the tacking thread at the point shown above between two strands of gold threads. Then two short and small running stitches are sewn in replacement of knotting.

    Chinese embroidery sewing tutorials

  7. When completed, insert the needle strung with the gold thread at the point shown above just under the centre flower head and then bring the gold thread to the reverse of the fabric.

    Couching technique guide embroidery needlework

  8. Completed. Please note when the couching of gold threads is going on, the needlework with gold threads should continue without a stop.

Below you can see some of the beautiful projects that you will find in Chinese Embroidery: An Illustrated Stitch Guide.

 Projects from Chinese Embroidery an Illustrated Stitch Guide

Chinese Embroidery

By Chao Xiaocheng

Photography by Xiao Lin

Shanghai Press (Distributed by Tuttle Publishing)