Couching with your Embroidery Machine?

Traditionally, couching; stitching yarn or a thin decorative trim at regular intervals to fabric, is done with a zig-zag stitch using the regular sewing machine. But, did you know you can also add this fun, decorative, dimensional texture to your project using your Janome embroidery machine?

Combine traditional embroidery stitching with the textural decorative element of couching using your embroidery machine!

Janome has a couple of Embroidery Couching options available for you. Janome Skyline S9 owners, for example, have this feature included with their machines. Watch a embroidery couching demo on the Skyline S9 on the Janome HQ You Tube channel.

Janome MC15000 V2 and updated models to include Janome MC15000 Quilt Maker can purchase Part Number 202-297-008 in order to add embroidery couching to these machines.

If you have one of the embroidery-only machines listed – Janome MC550E, MC500E, MC450E and MC400E, Janome has the Embroidery Couching Foot Set, Part Number 202-316-004. An updated Janome Bulletin with more information was recently posted to the Janome Global Site, which is where you may also download the special embroidery couching designs for free!

7 Embroidery Couching designs sized for the SQ14b 5.5″ x 5.5″ hoop.
3 Embroidery Couching designs sized for the SQ20b 7.9″ x 7.9″ hoop.

What makes these embroidery designs so special is that they are open designs; not very dense, with continuous line stitching without a lot of backtracking, or repetitive stitches over the design. A traditional, densely digitized embroidery design would not work as the build-up of stitching over yarn would be too much for the machine to handle. It would be a total mess and trying to stitch over such thickness could potentially damage the machine.

Don’t fret if the packaging at your Janome Dealer does not list the Janome MC550E on the blister pack. The Janome Embroidery Couching Foot Set will still work on the machine. It just means you have an older package which hasn’t been updated to include the more recent machine model. Janome releases so many fabulous machines, it’s hard to keep up sometimes, lol!

Full instructions are on the back of the blister pack.
Add MC550E to the list!

Included in the kit is a hook which attaches to the top of your machine where the secondary spool pin goes. Place the yarn over the hook prevent it from tangling, and to keep it feeding freely. You don’t want the yarn to pull tight, which will prevent it from being stitched down as easily. The more relaxed the yarn is, the better the results.

The secret to using a straight stitch in the embroidery machine to couch the yarn instead of using a zig-zag stitch is the ingenious design of the Janome Patented presser feet, labeled PC-A and PC-B. Each presser foot has a little trap door, as I call it, which pivots opens to easily position the yarn in the centre of the foot. Once in place, close the trap door and the yarn is held in place directly under the needle, no matter which direction the hoop is moving. Brilliant! Janome has done it again!

This cute butterfly is one of the 10 FREE Embroidery Couching designs available from the Janome Global Site.
Left is the regular P embroidery foot included with the machine. On the right is the special PC-A embroidery couching foot, used for thinner yarns. Attached to the machine is the PC-B foot, used with thicker yarns.
The Janome Patented Embroidery Couching Presser Feet makes positioning the yarn in the centre of the foot, directly under the needle sew easy!

Full instructions are included with the Janome Embroidery Couching Foot Set, so there’s no guesswork setting up your machine. It’s such a fun technique, and a great way to use up bits of yarns you may have left over from other projects, or, a great way to get your “yarn fix”, as I call it, without having to learn how to knit or crochet. I have no time for another hobby, but I love the soft texture and colours of yarns, and love the dimension and texture they add to whatever the project.

You can use a variety of yarns and soft cords for embroidery couching, but avoid the very fine baby yarns, as they’re too fine to catch in the stitching. Also avoid dense, stiff cords like rat-tail cording, (on the left below) or twine, which will be harder to stitch through. Those cords are best to couch using the zig-zag stitch on the sewing machine, which will sew to either side of the cord, not through it. As well, carefully inspect the yarn for slubs and knots which will likely get caught in the foot, preventing the yarn from feeding freely. If a yarn is too thick, or, as in the example, below, has an additional strand of yarn wrapped around it, try untwisting the yarn to separate the strands, making it more useable.

A variety of looks using different types and thickness of yarn. The butterfly in the top left corner is just the design, no yarn couched over it. You’re the designer, use them as you wish! And the 10 embroidery couching designs are FREE on the Janome Global Site!

It’s so fun to watch these designs come to life; they don’t take long to stitch, so you’ll want to stay at the machine and help guide the yarn as needed, mainly from pulling taught. When you want to switch to regular stitching, no yarn couching, no need to change the presser foot back to the original, just leave it on and keep on stitching!

Resize and Copy using the editing functions built-in to your machine.

It’s that quick and easy to add yarn couching to any project! We’d love to see what you’re stitching, so be sure to hashtag us #janomecanada #janomelife #sharethejanomelove and @janomecanada on social media.

Happy Sewing!

About janomeman

As Janome Canada's National Consumer Education Manager, I'm SEW excited to share my love of sewing, quilting and all things creative with everyone at our fabulous new Janome Sewing and Learning Centre in Oakville, ON. Have an idea for a class, or to be put onto our mailing list, E-mail me at
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