Bokhara Couching filling hand embroidery

Bokhara Couching

Bokhara Couching, also known as self-couching, is a fascinating hand embroidery technique. Its origins can be traced back to the city of Bukhara in Uzbekistan, where it was traditionally used to embroider large wall hangings called Suzani. In this technique, the laid and couching threads are the same, creating a unique and decorative effect.

Short couching stitches, forming a pattern (often diagonal) across the filled shape, not only add interest but also offer a world of creative possibilities. With Bokhara Couching, you have the power to create any pattern that perfectly complements your unique design.

Other names of Bokhara Couching

Kloster stitch, Self-couching stitch, Laid Oriental filling, Bukhara Couching, and Bokharan Couching are the alternative names of this hand embroidery technique.

Bokhara Couching embroidery with blue threads
Bokhara Couching embroidery with blue threads
Bokhara Couching with blue threads rear side
Rear side of the sampler
Stamps of Uzbekistan, 2009 - Bukhara Suzani
Stamps of Uzbekistan, 2009 – Bukhara Suzani

Applications of the Bokhara Couching

The Bokhara Couching stitch is not just a beautiful technique, but also a practical one. It’s an excellent choice for filling large areas with a straightforward pattern. The couching stitches create a stable surface, even when working on expansive areas, making it a reliable technique for various embroidery projects.

Historically, Bokhara Couching has been a revered technique, used to create grand tapestries and wall hangings. The direction of the laid thread was traditionally vertical, from top downwards, but feel free to adapt this to your design.

More stitches from the Couching stitch family

Learn how to embroider Bokhara Couching Stitch

Embarking on your journey to learn Bokhara Couching is an exciting adventure. Follow this step-by-step tutorial with detailed photos, and you’ll be stitching this beautiful technique in no time. For those who prefer visual learning, I also have a video lesson on the Practical Embroidery YouTube channel to help you master this hand embroidery technique even faster.

Bokhara Couching with blue threads Small

How to embroider Bokhara Couching

Step-by-step hand embroidery tutorial


1. Define the shape you wish to fill with Bokhara couching and decide on the surface pattern. Mark both on the fabric.

Bokhara Couching Step1

2. Take the needle up on the left-top corner of the filling area. Make a long horizontal stitch to the right-top corner of the shape. Pull the thread to the back.

Bokhara Couching Step2

3. Take the needle up to the surface under the laid thread on the first mark of the pattern.

Bokhara Couching Step3

4. Take the needle down on the same mark. Make a short stitch to anchor the laid thread. Pull the thread to the back side of the fabric.

Bokhara Couching Step4

5. Make the second couching stitch on the next mark.

Bokhara Couching Step5

6. After all the couching stitches of the first row are done, take the needle up on the left just under the first laid stitch and make a long stitch parallel to the first one.

Bokhara Couching Step7

7. Add couching stitches to secure the second laid thread.

Bokhara Couching Step8

8. Continue adding the rows of sefl-couched stitches until you fill the entire shape.

Bokhara Couching embroidery stitch with blue pearl cotton

Video tutorial

YouTube player

Tools and materials I used for this sampler

Disclaimer. To cover the cost of creating free embroidery patterns and video tutorials for this blog, I do sometimes link to products. Please assume these links are affiliate links. If you choose to buy through my links then THANK YOU – it will make it possible for me to keep doing this.

Embroidery fabric cotton linen neutral colors Etsy
Embroidery fabric
DMC Pearl Cotton #8 thread on Etsy
DMC Pearl Cotton #8
Beechwood embroidery hoops Etsy
Embroidery hoop
Bohin Embroidery Needles Etsy
Bohin Embroidery Needles
Embroidery Scissors Etsy
Embroidery Scissors

What’s next?

If you’re in the mood to explore more hand embroidery stitches, check out the Stitches and Techniques page for the list of other fantastic stitches available on my blog. From timeless classics to modern twists, a whole world of stitches is waiting for you to explore and master. So, grab your hoop and needle, and let’s stitch our way to creative bliss!

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Need More Guidance?

The top 10 hand embroidery stitches to learn is a free online course created for beginners.

White sashiko stitches on purple fabric