Tutorial: Using Beaded Jacobean Couching to Fill Embroidered Shapes

This embroidery technique is a variation on a stitch called "Jacobean Couching" that uses beads to give your project some added elegance. This project is not difficult, though it is helpful to have some knowledge of basic embroidery. Here are the materials you will need:

1. Embroidery Floss.
2. Seed Beads.
3. Regular sewing thread in a color that matches your beads.
4. A heat-transfer pencil.
5. An air-soluble pen (a pen that makes a mark which will disappear in a day or so).
6. A transparent gridded ruler.
PLUS, tracing paper, scissors, a home iron, fabric to embroider your design onto, and an embroidery hoop. For this project I used a 6" hoop.

STEP 1: Trace your design onto tracing paper using the heat transfer pencil. I chose an eight pointed star - you can choose pretty much any image you like, as this technique works well for filling any simple shape.

STEP 2: Iron the design onto your fabric. Use the hottest setting that will work for your chosen fabric, turn the steam setting to "off," and do not let your design shift while ironing. My design was transfered after about ten seconds of ironing.

STEP 3: Outline your design using any stitch you like. I chose to use the Stem Stitch, which is illustrated below. For this project, I did my stitching with three strands of embroidery floss. A handy set of illustrations for various outline stitches can be found here.

STEP 4: You are going to run a series of parallel threads over the entirety of your design. I chose a distance of 3/8". Using your transparent gridded ruler, make small dots right next to your outline, indicating where your parallel stitches should be placed. The ink should disappear in a day or so, but it's still best to keep your marks as small as possible.

STEP 5: Using the marks you've made, create a series of long parallel stitches that fill up your entire shape.

STEP 6: Decide whether you would like to end up with a shape filled with squares or diamonds. If you want squares, you should make your second set of parallel stitches at a 90 degree angle to the first set. I decided I wanted diamonds, so I chose a random angle, and simply made all my stitches parallel to the first line that I made at random.

STEP 7: Once you have filled your entire shape with a grid of long stitches, you can start adding the beads. Thread your needle with a double strand of regular sewing thread, then bring your needle up through the fabric right next to the place where two threads cross.

Thread a bead onto your string, and bring your needle back down through the fabric on the opposite side of the crossed threads.

To make sure your beads are securely stitched onto the fabric, bring your needle back up, and make a second stitch through each bead before moving on to anchor the next intersection of threads. Keep going until you've tacked down all your threads.

STEP 8: Admire the beauty!

February is National Embroidery Month: NewNew Picks

In honor of National Embroidery Month, here are some of my NewNew top picks to celebrate.

This sampler by Miniature Rhino strikes me as simultaneously nostalgic and edgy. It would fit equally well in a modern decor setting as a Victorian one. Also this piece is a boon for those who want someone to remember us, but are a little camera shy.
Now your tea will be neither confused nor cold with the help of this fun cosy by KnitStorm. The use of recycled wool for both the cozy itself and the embroidery can make you feel toasty to your toes with the warmth of choosing something good for the earth.

This art quilt by Look Closely Press elevates the lowly blanket stitch to new heights. This one-of-a-kind artwork captures the spirit of sitting quietly to embroider.
If embroidery has captured your heart, what better way to display that love than with a heart ornament by copabananas. The vintage fabric is what really caught my eye in this piece.
thirdfloor makes embroidery art wearable in this wool and kimono silk cowl. Copper is one of my all time favorite colors since it has all the glamour of a metal, but a little softer.

If your eyes are still hungry for embroidery, there is time left to check out the exhibition, Forget-Me-Not: embroidered love from the new craft movement. This show at the Hanahou Gallery runs until February 27th, and NewNew members loveforever and Miniature Rhino have work on display.

Check back tomorrow as we continue to honor National Embroidery Month with a project and stitch how-to.