Updated August 9, 2019.
Great as they are wired threads such as DMC’s Memory Thread (no longer made) or Kreinik’s Hot Wire don’t work for every application.
If, as is the case here, the “wire” twists tightly and meanders all over the place, these threads won’t work for making realistic needlepoint cords. At best, it will be heavy going. If you do not want a metallic look or want a texture different from metallic, then this technique is perfect because it puts you in control of the final result.
That’s when it’s time to use the tried-and-true method of covering thread with thread. I used this method on this Ashley Bradley mini-sock to make the Christmas lights a focal point of the piece.
Because your stitches will not all be oriented the same way it’s critical that you use the same thread throughout, or at worst exactly matching colors, for both the couched thread and the couching thread. You could use two different threads if colors and textures match. Unlike in padding, your thread may not cover the couched thread completely, so this is another reason matching threads are important.
Because the slant of the covering stitches will change as the curve changes, darker threads will look smoother and more realistic than lighter threads. With this matte black thread, Grandeur, the cord looks solid, not stitched.
You will need to use a round thread, appropriate for that canvas. Grandeur is a #5 pearl, so it’s perfect for 18-mesh. You will also need to have two needles. First Aid tape to loosely hold needles and thread ends out of the way might be helpful.
Begin by bringing your thread out of the canvas, return it into the canvas at the end of the line. Lines end when they go behind other areas of the canvas. Notice that the thread has taken the shortest route, a straight line, between the points. So that you have plenty of thread to use to move the couched thread, let your needle and thread hang free, put it on a needleminder, or hold it away from your working area with tape.
Beginning where your needle came out of the canvas and using a second needle and length of thread, couch down the first thread by stitching across its width at every intersection. These will be Tent and Reverse Tent Stitches. As you make these stitches you will have to move the couched thread to be sure the Tent Stitch goes over it. I do this by making sure that the covered thread’s tension is loose and then moving the couched thread into position so my stitch will cross it.
The technique differs significantly from whipped stitches. The initial stitches in whipped stitches are made to make a line. Then they are wrapped to make it look solid and smooth. Here the couched thread creates the solid line as well as the padding. The couching stitches do not make a solid line.
One final note. If your line has something attached to it, such as the lights here, make sure the cord actually touches these. Otherwise, it will look unrealistic.
The result is a thick solid curvy line, much more round and thick than you get with Whipped Backstitch.