Couching on a Spanish Gown
Catalina da Gata
The inspiration for the design of the embroidery and this outfit came about while looking through 20000 years of fashion by Francois Boucher and coming upon a picture of Empress Isabella of Portugal done by Titian.
The embroidery on the dress is couched gold thread accented with pearls in a design similar to that on Titian's portrait of Isabella (figure 1). Couching was a period method for getting thread on a fabric that was too thick or fragile to go through the fabric. Surface couching as used in this design was primarily used from mid 14th century onwards. It is mentioned in Hispanic costume that "metallic threads were stitched, or rather couched, with silk" (Figure 2). I used gold cord and started stitching it down with silk thread but found it was breaking, I think it was older than I thought, so finished with a cotton thread.
1. Last time it was entered the main comment was that it was not tacked down enough, that was fixed.
2. Stitched it down through the interlining instead of the bodice, so stitching does not show and so it won't get worn.
Ruth Matilda Anderson Hispanic Costume 1480-1530 New York: The Hispanic Society of America, 1979
Francois Boucher 20000 Years of Fashion: The history of costume and personal adornment New York: H.N. Abrams, 1987
Kynsia Marko Embroidery London: Treasure Press, 1987
Couching: A Simple way to Decorate by Lady Katerina de Brescia