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 arranged in 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 its 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 welted 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.
Here is a quick video showing you how to do this:
Why does a French knot pull through?
There are several reasons why a French knot might pull through to the back. First, be gentle pulling your thread to the back when forming a French knot. Stop as soon as your knot looks like you want it to. Second, if you don’t have a thread or two between where you brought your needle up and then take your needle back to the underside of your design, there is not much holding the knot to the top of your embroidery design. Thirdly, if you are using too big of a needle, you might be making a big enough hole on your fabric that it is easy for your knot to slip through.
How many strands of floss are needed to make a French knot?
Whatever you’d like! That is the fun part. Play around with one to six strands on a scrap of the fabric you’ll be using for your embroidery design and see what you like! Also, play around with different sizes of Perle cotton embroidery thread, even some yarns! Have fun and make it yours!
Susan uses French knots to add visual interest to the border of this small embroidery piece. Enjoy more of Susan’s work in her interview on Create Whimsy.
See my favorite 10 Easy Embroidery Stitches to Embellish Your Projects.
Check out all of the hand embroidery projects on Create Whimsy.