Parlez-Vous French Knot? Basic Embroidery Stitch, The French Knot
The French Knot embroidery stitch always impresses! It can be a little tricky to master, but once you have it down, you will go back to this stitch again and again. It’s always a classic in heirloom embroidery projects, especially delicate when stitched with a single thread. It can take on a bold or whimsical look in modern projects when stitched with multiple strands in cheery colors.
The French Knot is part of the knotted family of embroidery stitches. It can be used singularly, or as a group to provide great texture to a piece. The twisted knot sits slightly raised from your embroidery piece. Stitch them in rows for lines, massed together for fillings or singly for powdering. When using the French Knot for a line, stitch from right to left, or whatever direction feels easiest. We recommend using a hoop to hold the material so it stays taut.
The French Knot can fill a space on it’s own. It is also a great combination stitch to use with other stitches to add texture and interest.
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Here are some beautiful projects we’ve found from embroidery artists that use the French knot in amazing ways.
Liz has great illustrated instructions on how to stitch French Knots on her blog, Simple Decorating Tips. This pillow project has a light and airy look because the French Knots are scattered to form a wreath. Liz even shows you how to make the welting edge!
When you want French Knots to resemble wisteria or grape clusters (for those wine-themed projects), place them closer together. In addition, PinTangle has several examples of how to combine French Knots in everything from crazy quilting to contemporary embroidery. Great step-by-step instructions here, too!
Some people are scared to try the French Knot, but once you get the hang of it, it goes quickly and you’ll love it! The trick is to hold your thread tightly around the point of your needle once you’ve made your two wraps of thread.
The French Knot can fill a space on its own. It is also a great combination stitch to use with other stitches to add texture and interest.
- Embroidery thread or floss
- Embroidery needles
- Embroidery hoop
- Embroidery scissors
- Pull your thread up where you want the knot. Then wrap the thread around the needle twice (or more), close to where you brought the needle up. For a more delicate knot, only wrap once, or if you are looking for a bold knot, wrap three times.
- Then hold the thread taut with one hand, and put the needle down through the fabric, close to where the needle came up, to form a knot. But don’t go back through the same hole – your knot might disappear to the back of your work.
- And, with that you finished your first French knot! Bring your needle up where you want your next French Knot, and do it all again!
- Two wraps around the needle close to the fabric.
- Needle down near where it came up out of the fabric . . .
- And, keep going until you’ve done all of the French Knots you’d like!
Here is another sampler using different threads to show the versatility of the French Knot:
- Row 1: Pearl cotton size 12 with three twists of thread
- Row 2: Pearl cotton size 8 with three twists of thread
- Row 3: Pearl cotton size 5 with three twists of thread
- Row 4: 6 strand embroidery thread with the traditional two twists of thread
- Row 5: 5 strands embroidery thread with two twists of thread
- Row 6: 4 strands embroidery thread with two twists of thread
- Row 7: 3 strands embroidery thread with two twists of thread
- Row 9: 1 strand of embroidery thread with two twists of thread
- Row 10: 1/4″ silk ribbon
See my favorite 10 Easy Embroidery Stitches to Embellish Your Projects.
Check out all of the embroidery projects on Create Whimsy.