Stitch a French knot embroidery piece

Do you know how to stitch a French knot without getting in a tangle? Perhaps you avoid them because of unpleasant experiences in the past?

Cat worked in French KnotsCat worked in French Knots

In this hand embroidery tutorial I will show you an easy way to create perfect French Knots in your projects and put those horror stories to one side from now on. 

You will find French knot stitch in needlepoint, surface (or freestyle) embroidery, crewel work and counted thread designs.

We often use them for eyes, noses and flowers. Massed together the french knot stitch can also represent fur (as I did for the cat in the photograph), hair, or even a bunnies tail.

Scroll down the page to watch my video on French Knots.

Top tips for perfect French knots

  1. Only wrap the floss around the needle once.
  2. Use a thicker thread for bigger knots.
  3. Use an embroidery hoop or frame to hold the fabric so both hands are free to work the stitch.
  4. Try not to use the same hole when you enter and exit the fabric. especially when working on evenweave or linen fabric

Butterfly worked in French knotsThe top wings of this butterfly are worked in multiple coloured French Knots

Let's stitch a French knot!

Bring the needle through to the right side of your work where you want to make your knot. Holding the thread near to the fabric/canvas wrap the thread around the needle once (or at most twice).

Pull the thread firmly so that the wraps tuck up snug around the needle.

Re-insert the needle one canvas or fabric thread away and . . .

... keeping the thread taut, gently pull the needle through to the back of the work. The knot should stay close to the fabric and keep nice and tight.

Where can I use French knots?

I used them for the centre of my flower on the thread painting page to add some bumpy texture. The page on embroidering small flowers also gives some ideas for use. 

French knots stitched en mass on a slip of fabric can then be attached to a piece of stumpwork embroidery to add depth and dimension to a project. 

You can stitch a French knot in combination with other stitches to decorate the seams in crazy quilt embroidery

Watch the french knot video

You may find it easier to work the knots after watching me stitch them in the video below.

Alternatives to the French knot stitch

If this hand embroidery tutorial showing how to stitch a French Knot has still not won you over, you could always substitute seeding stitch or seed beads instead! Check my page on attaching beads.

Another knotted stitch you may like to try as a replacement is the colonial knot. If you require a row of knots you might find coral knot suitable. 

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