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Soutache Basics Part 1

Soutache has been around for a long time, especially in the world of fashion. From military uniforms to haute couture creations, soutache creates amazing texture in looks. It has just recently made a splash in the world of jewelry with the renewed interest in adornments embroidered from beads and soutache. Soutache is a flat braid with a groove down its center, made of two rows of cording wrapped in rayon. It is added to designs stacked in layers - the edges of the braid are what are visible in the design and they are often sewn on around beads or cabochons. This Handy Tip will get you started with the basics of working with soutache. Check out our second soutache Handy Tip to continue to learn about the techniques used when working with this unique material.

Components Used:
Soutache has a tendency to fray. To prevent fraying apply an adhesive to a section of the braid where it is nice and tight and not frayed and let dry. Cut the braid through the area of adhesive for nice clean ends. You can also use a thread burner on synthetic braids to stop the fraying. As you can see in this picture, soutache has a groove down the center. Whenever you stitch through the soutache, always stitch in the groove.Choose a thread color that matches your soutache, especially the outer most rows or layers. For soutache jewelry, a strong, fine thread is best. Tie a knot in the end of a three yard length of thread. Starting a couple of inches from the end, run the needle through the groove in the first layer of soutache then back to the other side and then back again, making each of these stitches close to each other.With the knot toward the second layer of soutache, run the needle through the grooves in all three layers, sandwiching the knot between the first and second layer of soutache. This will prevent the knot from pulling out of the groove. Then, take a tiny stitch back through all three layers.
Working away from the ends, make a series of shaping stitches down the groove. The object is to shape the soutache to the bead that it is going to wrap around. To do this, curve the three layers of soutache with your fingers as you stitch. Make smaller "shaping" stitches on the inside layer and larger "shaping" stitches on the outside layer. You will want this stitched section to wrap from one hole of the bead to the other hole.Thread the needle through the bead, wrap the curved section around the bead and then insert the needle through all three layers of soutache.The soutache should wrap nicely around the bead. If not, don't be afraid to gently remove stitches and try again to get a better fit.
Make more shaping stitches for the other half of the bead.Thread the needle through the bead and out through all three layers of soutache and pull snugly around the bead.Make a small stitch at the top and thread the needle back through the bead.
To close the soutache nicely around the bead, thread the needle through just the first layer of braid…...then back and through the first layer on the other side. Pull snug. Then repeat, but this time go through all the layers.Cinch them up neatly.
With the thread coming out of the side, add a bead.Wrap all three layers of soutache around half of the bead and then thread the needle through all three layers. You can add some shaping stitches here to stabilize the soutache if you need to. With smaller beads it isn't always necessary.Wrap the soutache the rest of the way around the bead.
Position the ends of the soutache so that they are in the back of the design. Thread the needle from the back to the front of the piece between two of the layers. Continue stitching from front to back, catching the ends of the soutache on the back to secure them.You can also stitch the ends together on the back if necessary. Apply some adhesive to the ends, allow to dry and then trim them so that they are tidy.Repeat these steps to create the other side of the design. Just move the needle through the soutache to position it where you want it.

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