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. It is a twisted knot that is 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 taut to make it easier.
The French Knot can fill a space on it’s own, like on my embroidery sampler. It is also a great combination stitch to use with other stitches to add texture and interest.
Here are some beautiful projects we’ve found from amazing 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 with scattered French Knots forming a wreath. Liz even shows you how to make the welting edge!
Placed closer together, French Knots can resemble wisteria or grape clusters (for those wine-themed projects). PinTangle has several examples of how French Knots can be combined in everything from crazy quilting to contemporary embroidery. Great step-by-step instructions here, too!
To see the French Knot in action, check out the video tutorial from Shiny Happy World!
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 your thread around the needle.
Pull your thread up where you want the knot. Wrap the thread around the needle twice, 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. Don’t go back through the same hole – your knot will disappear to the back of your work.
And, the first knot is done. Bring your needle up where you want your next French Knot, and do it all again!
What a pretty French Knot!
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 8: 2 strands of 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.