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Diaper couching (goldwork)

​Diaper couching is a stitch using metal thread in conjunction with coloured thread to create a patterned effect that complements both the coloured and metal threads. 

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Diaper couching (goldwork) method stage 1 photograph

Begin by drawing your design on to the background fabric. The lines represent where the couching stitches are to be placed and at what angle. The stitches that fall on the diagonal are worked at 45 degrees to the metal thread.

Diaper couching (goldwork) method stage 2 photograph

The lines of the pattern that fall on the vertical at worked at 90 degrees to the metal thread.

Diaper couching (goldwork) method stage 3 photograph

Stitches that fall in between the lines are worked in a self-coloured thread and are therefore invisible. Those on the lines are worked in a coloured thread.

Diaper couching (goldwork) method stage 4 photograph

Take two strands of metal thread and lay them down one side of the shape.

Diaper couching (goldwork) method stage 5 photograph

Thread two needle - one with a single strand of self-coloured thread and the other with two strands of a coloured thread of your choice.

Diaper couching (goldwork) method stage 6 photograph

Work a single holding stitch using the self-coloured thread at the top of the shape, then work a diagonal couching stitch on the first diagonal line using your coloured thread.

Diaper couching (goldwork) method stage 7 photograph

Continue to couch down the silver threads, placing a regular number of horizontal holding stitches in between the diagonal coloured couching stitches.

Diaper couching (goldwork) method stage 8 photograph

When you reach the bottom of the shape, lay another pair of metal threads alongside the first and couch back up to the top of the shape in the same way. Work the holding stitches in between those in the previous row to create a brick pattern.

Diaper couching (goldwork) method stage 9 photograph

Continue across the shape to the first vertical line. Here, place a holding stitch over two metal threads, as before. Couch down only the right-handed thread on the line using the coloured thread and closely worked, horizontal couching stitches.

Diaper couching (goldwork) method stage 10 photograph

When you reach a diagonal, work a single, diagonal couching stitch over both metal threads. Work to the top of the shape. Secure both metal threads with self-coloured holding stitches.

Diaper couching (goldwork) method stage 11 photograph

Work the next vertical block in the same way as the first, using a different coloured thread. To finish, take all the sewing threads through to the back, plunge the metal and fasten off.

Structure of stitch

Embroidery Techniques

Identifying Diaper couching (goldwork)

​Diaper couching can be identified as a couching method that uses coloured thread to couch metal thread so that the coloured thread creates a pattern over the metal thread.


  • Letitia Higgin, RSN Handbook of Embroidery (1880) , p.42
  • Various Authors, The Royal School of Needlework Book of Embroidery (2018) , p.248

Examples of Diaper couching (goldwork) from the RSN Collection