Laid and couched work is one of my favorite things about crewel work. The multitude of designs, textures and endless color combinations are fascinating. I’ve tried working out how to recreate laid and couched work that I’ve seen in a photo or an old piece of needlework once. (successfully!)
In the Levens Hall Pillow Phillipa Turnbull had to figure out how some talented and clever embroiderer worked a basket weave pattern on the original Levens Hall crewelwork piece.
In the instructions, Phillipa explains how she worked it out and her solution is really clever and fun to do!
The first step is to lay all the stitches along the lines that are printed on the fabric. This is straightforward to do, the only critical thing is to ensure the lines stay parallel to one another and don’t begin to slant in one direction.
The next step is the secret to working this laid and couched pattern easily and beautifully: lay down guide stitch lines using red sewing thread between the parallel lines. These red lines are the guide for where to begin or end each of the short woven stitches.
As you can see in the photo above, the short couching stitches that are worked perpendicular to the long laid stitches just overlap the red guide lines. This ensures that the short couching stitches give the appearance of weaving in and out of the longer laid stitches.
When the entire area is finished I will go back and remove the red guide lines and the effect of a woven pattern will be complete! Clever, no?!