Embellishment Favorites: Couching with Monofilament Thread
Couching with monofilament thread is something I do over and over as I create with sweatshirts, sweaters, up-cycling and other sewing. I find there are certain embellishment techniques and tools that I developed in my design work that I use over and over. My next few blog posts will share my favorites, starting with ‘Couching’…..
COUCHING YARN OR TRIM
To make an embellishment yarn look like it is ‘floating’, just couch it down with monofilament thread in the needle, using a zig zag stitch. Regarding color (Clear or Smoke), it depends on what I’m doing. I generally prefer to have the stitching look ‘invisible’. When laying down a lighter colored trim, I select Clear, and for a darker colored trim, I select Smoke. For the bobbin thread, I recommend polyester thread. NOT embroidery polyester, but regular polyester thread like Metrosene or Guterman.
In the picture below, I’m finishing off the outer, lowermost edge of the collar on one of my Creative Sweatshirt Jackets in the ‘Refined Too’ Talking Pattern™. I have stitched the right side of the INNER Collar edge to the WRONG side of the jacket neckline. Next, I would zigzag down the cut, unturned lower edge of the OUTER Collar to the neckline using a zigzag and Monofilament Thread. To then cover up that raw edge, I couched the blue boucle yarn over that edge as shown. This ‘backwards’ technique, attaching on the INSIDE, and finishing on the OUTSIDE really make for less bulk – something I’ve learned to control in all of my work on heavy knits (often sweatshirts). In this case, the ‘Collar’ here is created from the lower ribbing of the sweatshirt – so even MORE bulk was involved.
The yarn I selected here is one of my favorites – a boucle of some width so it ‘covers’ edges well with just one strand.
IMPORTANT TENSION ADJUSTMENT NECESSARY
I’m quite certain that you will find it necessary to reduce the upper tension (dial down to a lower number) so that the bobbin thread doesn’t show up in little ‘hints’ on the top of the work. See the picture below…
Regardless os what ‘number’ you have to move the upper tension down to – just do so until you do NOT see the bobbin thread ‘peeking’ at each side of the zigzag.
STITCH WIDTH AND LENGTH
Length: I almost always use ‘3’ for the Stitch Length. It just seems to work.
Width: Just as wide (no more) that is needed to encompass the trim being ‘couched’ over.
MONOFILAMENT THEAD RECOMMENDATIONS
- YLI Wonder Invisible Thread – 100% nylon. Available in clear and smoke. (And no, the nylon does NOT Melt!) Nor have I seen any turn ‘yellow’ – see more below. A ‘cross-wound’ spool, so it can ride in a horizontal thread delivery just fine.
- Transfil Monofilament Thread – 100% polyamide nylon monofilament thread. Available in clear and smoke. This is a ‘parallel-wound’ spool, so should only ride in a vertical thread delivery.
- Mono-Poly from Superior Threads – 100% polyamide nylon monofilament thread. Available in clear and smoke.This is a ‘parallel-wound’ spool, so should only ride in a vertical thread delivery.
Regarding the ‘thread delivery’ orientation notes above, if a parallel-wound spool is placed in a horizontal position, there will HAVE to be an extra ‘twist’ in it as it goes into the thread guides. This is NOT a good thing. REALLY!!!!!
For the record – and I can’t really explain this, I do NOT get along well with Sulky Monofilament thread. I know there are other brands but the 3 above are ones I’ve used extensively.
Remember, I said above that I almost always use a good quality garment construction POLYESTER thread in the bobbin. Sometimes I want to use it in the bobbin, so I always keep a bobbin of each ‘color’ wound as well. Do NOT wind fast – OR a full bobbin if your bobbins are plastic!!! If you do – you probably won’t get it off the spindle…. I use plastic bobbins for most sewing on my Pfaff 7550, but for this thread – I have metal bobbins. With the metal, I CAN wind them full – which is a good thing – because winding the bobbins is a royal ‘pain. What would be some of the situations where I’d want the monofilament thread in the bobbin?
- I desire the monofilament to end up on the top
- I don’t want the bobbin showing on the wrong side, or I want it to show ‘less’ so in that case, I would use the monofilament-filled bobbin.
Throw away OLD Monofilament Thread
Do NOT use OLD monofilament thread. It might be called ‘Invisible’ Thread. I first used monofilament thread in the early 80’s. Back then, it was very very much heavier. THIS is the thread that some think of when they say that it will melt with high heat, and turn yellow with age. I’ve NEVER had any of those things happen with the threads I’ve recommended above.
I’ll never forget back in 1986 when I had created matching swimsuits for myself and my daughter. Moving to a new state and city, I figured debuting at the pool in matching attire would be a conversation starter to help me re-establish my custom dress-making business. Well, we both itched and scratched constantly at the pool that day, as each and every thread ‘end’ was like a pin pricking us. We never wore those swimsuits again!