How to embroider French knots

milliners needlesA french knot is a difficult stitch for some people but I have a tip or two in this tutorial. I am putting them up the front so people notice them before they embark upon learning the stitch.

Stitchers problem #1  Your knot pops through the fabric to the back!

If your knot pops through the fabric, you are not leaving a large enough gap where the thread emerges from the fabric and where it goes back into the fabric. When you follow the directions take a look at the third photo and make sure you take the needle back into the fabric a couple of threads away from where it came out. Put simply dont put your needle back into the same hole.

Stitchers problem #2 my wraps get stuck on the needle

Second tip is to use milliners needles as they are the secret weapon in creating not only French knots but also Bullion knots and many of the knotted stitches.

Any of the knotted stitches are best worked with milliners needles or straw needles because of the way they are made. Most embroidery needles have an eye that is wider than the shaft of the needle. Milliners or straw needles have an eye and shaft that are the same width which makes sliding the wrapped bullion or French knot along the needle easy.

Stitchers problem #3 my work just gets puckered and messy

If your work is puckering the problem is tension. Stretch the fabric in a needlework hoop or frame so that you have both hands free to work the knot. I explained how to bind and use an embroidery hoop here

I hope these  tips lead to pleasant stitching experiences when you learn how to work French knots!

ideas for French Knots sample 6How to work French Knots

step by step instructions on how work French knots 1Bring the needle out through the fabric and holding the thread taut with your left hand twist the needle round the thread two or three times.

step by step instructions on how work French knots 2Still holding the thread firmly take the needle back into the fabric one or two threads away from where the working thread emerges. Insert the needle.

step by step instructions on how work French knots 3Brush the knot down the shaft of the needle with the nail of your left thumb so that it is sitting firmly on the fabric as illustrated. Pull the thread through to the back of the fabric. As you pull keep the working thread tensioned firmly but not too tight.

step by step instructions on how work French knots 4Use your left index finger and hold the thread against the fabric as you pull the thread through the knot. This helps prevent tangles.

step by step instructions on how work French knots 5The thickness of the thread and the number of wraps on the needle will determine the size of the finished knot. You can use all sorts of threads to create interesting effects. In the sample below I used hand dyed cotton perle # 5 and #8 and the white French knots is Metallic Madeira braid 9808.

ideas for French Knots sample 4In this sample I have used an acrylic knitting yarn that was blended with a metallic thread to create the ‘grapes’ in this piece of crazy quilting.

using French Knots sample 1

The next sample is a similar design that is created using hand dyed 4mm silk ribbon.

ideas for French Knots sample 2 wisteria

You can use them in contemporary hand embroidery too. Here they are uses in combination with small straight stitches and bullion knots.

ideas for French Knots sample 5Another example of French knots used in Contemporary embroidery used in combination with beading and eyelets. A mix of threads were used including  cotton perle #5 and #8, silk, stranded cotton floss, cotton abroder, chainette thread and rayon ribbon floss.

ideas for French Knots sample 3The last sample is of french knots worked in cotton perle #5. It is a small detail on a crazy quilt block.

French Knot sample

French knots are also known as French dot, knotted stitch, twisted knot stitch and wound stitch.


Have you seen my book?

holding my book in front of quilt

My book The Visual Guide to Crazy Quilting Design: Simple Stitches, Stunning Results  shares detailed practical methods on how to design and make a crazy quilt. Topics such as fabric choice, tricky challenges like balancing colour, texture and pattern, and how to create movement to direct your viewers eye around the block are covered in detail.

I also explain how to stitch and build decorative seam treatments in interesting and creative ways. My book is profusely illustrated as my aim is to be practical and inspiring.

using my stitchers Templates set 2Stitchers templates

My templates aim to help you take your stitching to the next level. Designed by an embroiderer for embroiderers. With them you can create hundreds of different hand embroidery patterns to embellish with flair. These templates are easy to use, made of clear plastic so you can position them easily and are compact in your sewing box.

These are simple to use. You simply position the template in place and use a quilter’s pencil to trace along the edge of the template. Stitch along this line to decorate the seam. I have a free ebook of patterns to accompany each set which illustrates how they can be used.

TO ORDER your Stitchers Templates

Crazy Quilt Templates set 1 you will find here 
Crazy Quilt Templates set 2 you will find here 



Tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

102 Responses to How to embroider French knots

  1. Liz says:

    Wow! The mixture of colors in the thread make such a beautiful piece of art. Gorgeous!

  2. My French knots have a bit of their own characteristic since I was stitching on to paper. Several variations, but I have embraced the not so perfectness! I am great with French knots on fabric. 😉
    Sandy in the UK

  3. Beth in IL says:

    I did a few french knots on my crazy quilt. It needs a few more but that will have to wait for another day.

  4. Sherrie says:

    Hi Sharon,
    I’ve posted my French Knots for Take A Stitch Tuesday. Love your samples, they are so beautiful. Have a great day!

  5. Julie says:

    I finally finished my french knots, tedius little devils! Maybe not as bad if you only do a few here and there. If you look at my sample which in the blog post titled “It began on I-65” you’ll see why I don’t love french knots today!

  6. After a trip to Denmark, Germany and the Netherland´s, intensive finishing week of my embroidery class in Stockholm and a long weekend in the countryside I am definitely behind. But I will do my best to catch up. I start with French knots as I have done a lot of knots this spring. See my blog at

  7. vero says:

    coucou sharon j’ai fini mon point qui est visible sur mon blog

  8. Lynda J, says:

    I have posted my french knots at Thank you for looking.

  9. Iris Lins says:

    I did many french knots finishing my pebble.

  10. Here’s my sampler with french knots and some other stitches:

  11. Annet says:

    I don’t know how many French knots I made this week, but I used a complete skein of stranded floss to finish my week 13 sampler. I wrote about it here:

  12. I’m a bit late this week as I had a nightmare with one of my threads. I got there in the end though 🙂

  13. Karrin Hurd says:

    This is my example of French Knots.

  14. Dianne says:

    My french knots piece looked a little like an eye, so I have called it “The Look’. The french knots are supplemented with beads and sequins. You may view it here:

  15. shirley says:

    Life got in the way this week, so here is the sample of French knots that I have just finished.

  16. Arlene says:

    Here’s my post on French knots. It took me a lot of practice in years past to “get” this stitch. I now use it regularly and enjoy combining it with other stitches.

  17. Rose says:

    Started working on my French Knots but only got the outline done.
    Here is another one of my French Knot designs

  18. Hello Sharon ,
    I like embrodering french knots .This is my work for this week :
    Good week end

  19. Pippa says:

    My attempts at French Knots. Not a patch on my Grandmothers.

  20. Gayle S. says:

    French knot? Knot garden? Ah…French Knot Garden!!!!

    See it at

    Gayle Schipper

  21. I looked at a range of Knots from different countries, including French and had a great time researching them all.

    I have posted to my blog : htttp://
    and the Flikr group:

  22. Maureen Bond says:

    I’ve posted work for Stem, Satin and French knots at
    I like French knots.

  23. Lisa says:

    My week 16 sample is at I am enjoying this challenge because it forces me to do a new sample each week. Not always easy, but rewarding.

  24. Julie says:

    I think I posted my french knot piece on last weeks TAST by accident…but here it is:

    Thanks, Julie

  25. Jeannette says:

    Thank you Sharon for suggesting using milliner needles for working french knots. A great tip. Made a butterfly with 497 french knots:

  26. maneki says:

    I did my first ever ribbon embroidery flowers this week, using french knots. Have been meaning to try it for ages after having seen some cute ribbon roses and now it finally happened. You can now see my silk ribbon and novelty yarn knots here:

    Hope you like it!

  27. French knot flowers with embroidery floss. I used the stem stitch trellis from last week. I got the idea for these flowers from Mary Corbet’s Needle n Thread blog. Enjoy!

  28. Jane says:

    So many lovely samples of stitching here, pleased to be part of it.

  29. Severine Allais says:

    Thanks Sharon for highlight my work this week. My tast week 16 is post here: and here:

  30. Dear Sharon, doing a design with a Frenchknot is new to me.
    However I tried it out. But i think the result is not that perfect. O.K. Let me try again.
    Now see my work at my blog and i will be back with some more designs in improved version.
    Thankyou Sharon it is very interesting to participate in tast.

  31. jacqui boyd says:

    Finally got around to posting my progress on my blog – . Have been keeping up with everyone’s work via this site and Facebook. Some pretty amazing stuff.

  32. Nat says:

    Unfinished sample, but I probably never will, I was being unrealistic when I designed it! Oh well, rock and roll! Week 16 TAST

  33. Ann says:

    I enjoyed doing French knots this week. I did the French knots on both the linen and two different types of lace on this sampler:

    It’s included in my TAST embroidery journal along with a journal entry, gratitude list, and images reflective of things I saw this week.

  34. Iris Lins says:

    I’ve finished my pebble embroidery doing many french knots. They are excellent for filling spaces.
    Hope you like. Iris Lins

  35. Isabelle says:

    French knot is not my favorit stitch, but I propose a little exercise :

  36. Iris Lins says:

    I was finishing my pebble embroidery adding many french knots. french knots are cute!

  37. Beth B says:

    French knots–one of my favorites! I did a little experimenting with different threads and yarns.

  38. I’m not getting a moderating message and it doesn’t look like my posts are coming through so, if this is the third time, apologies…
    here is my little study in French Knots…

  39. Carol Harper says:

    a little study in knots

  40. Carol Harper says:

    A little study in knots… mixed in with stem stitch and detached chain.

  41. libbyQ says:

    i feel better about this stitch thanks to the tips.

    i managed to create a fat little bumble bee~!



  42. I don’t know if the comment registered, so, at the risk of repeating myself – It’s here 🙂

  43. I love this stitch! It’s so versatile and I would spend al ot longer exploring if I could 🙂
    Anyway, here’s my sample

  44. I just posted my TAST tag with the French Knot. I hope you will visit and let me know what you think. Here is my link:

  45. Christina says: My attempt at the french knot. A bit late this week for lack of time, and small for the same reason. Like the stitch, one of few I’ve practiced before.

  46. Hi Sharon, this is my sample for week 16………….
    you can find it here……………

    chris richards

  47. I love embroidery and your blog has been great inspiration. This is a new blog and my first post, just wanted to be part of this wonderful experience and also learn more about hand embroidery . Here is my small work with french knots

  48. ashavinod says:

    Here is my french knot butterfly

  49. ashavinod says:


  50. margb says:

    Sharon, I think I love French knots and hope I have improved since that first Sumptuous Surfaces piece – my knot picture (not quite finished) is on my blog –

  51. Michelle r says:

    I always wondered why my french knots looked alittle different, and why I had trouble with bouillion stitch. The needle? How simple…

  52. Mariainez L. Ribeiro dos Santos says:

    I stitch this for my daugther,40 years ago.

  53. Mariainez L. Ribeiro dos Santos says:

    My work for this week´s challenge is here.
    I enjoyed to do this!!!!!
    Have a nice day.

  54. christine says:

    It’s a nice stitch! You can see it on my blog
    Have a nice week-end!!!

  55. Lorraine says:

    French knots are one of my favourite stitches and I tend to design with them alot! Althought I’ve not been keeping up weekly, I am working behind the scenes. Thanks Sharon!

  56. Annet says:

    Today I wrote about the French knots and other TAST stitches on my crazy fabric book page:

  57. Gail R says:

    I love french knots!! Here’s my version of hycinth flowers with french knots.

  58. Anna says:

    I have never used this stitch, but I really loved it and enjoyed it!

  59. Anneliese says:
    I “knotted” two afternoons – the print came from my stash of little treasures.

  60. Diane says:

    Love French knots. Can’t stitch more than an hour without putting in one or two just because.

  61. Luiz Vaz says:

    My first post to week. Detais of a recently work still in progress…

  62. Thank you for the tips! I always had problems passing the needle through the knot, but with a “straw” needle it was easy! 🙂

  63. konnykards says:

    I previously stitched a small piece on a fabric print of a Springtime photo taken in our local park.
    I was disappointed to see that the French Knots were
    quite open and had tails – but in that piece they were OK, as opening buds! So – a happy accident.
    However I do have a lovely embroidery with many, many, French knots. I have no idea who stitched it – it was bought by my late Aunt in a house sale about seventy years ago,
    I have recently come home from hospital and need to catch up on three TAST weeks – hopefully soon. Connie.

  64. Wendy says:

    I like French knots, but I like Colonial knots better – for one reason they are so much easier!

  65. Pippa says:

    Hi Sharon
    So pleased you have chosen French Knots as I wanted to share with everyone some of my relatives work. I think my grandmother did these, but cannot be sure of exactly who did. These pieces are done on silk with single thread.
    I will have a go myself this week and post again.
    My blog
    Thank you Sharon for this chance to show some wonderful work and ideas.

  66. Debbie says:

    My all time favorite stitch, Sharon! Here’s my blog post:

  67. ValerieL says:

    Here is my French knot sampler. I enjoyed this one.

  68. HI,
    I have not done any new projects but shared pictures of some old projects..

  69. Luiz Vaz says:

    My first post of the week: details of a recent work still in progress. I wish you all a very nice week and nice sitiches. Sharon, once again, thanks for all!

  70. Cyndi L says:

    I’ve had a few “off” weeks, but I’m back in the saddle now! I love French knots, and I found several spots on my quilt that needed them 🙂

  71. It’s a ‘more from the archives’ post, but it’s ready to see:
    In the meantime, I’m working on my sampler…

  72. Annet says:

    My favourite stitch! The perfect stitch to finish my week 13 sampler.

    Here’s my weekly post with old samples:

  73. Urist says:

    Excellent! I love french knots.

  74. Angela says:

    Again, I love you samples Sharon! So gorgeous! You can see what I did at
    Someone once told me that there is no point in learning to do a french knot, that’s what beads are for. Well, I disagree. As much as I love beads I think there is always room for french knots!

  75. Shami Immanuel says:


    My trial for this week’s challenge is here. I enjoyed doing french knots. When I learned I struggled but after a couple of times it was fun doing it. The link is
    Hope my strawberry will be yummy.

  76. Joyce says:

    I love french knots and find them easy to do, but then Mom taught me decades ago! I had already done them on this area of a crazy quilt block. I was behind on the stem stitch and there is a french knot on the bird I embroidered for it, but there are more french knots on the crazy patch.

    This week I have a lot to do to get ready for a trip, so glad you picked a stitch I already had done! : – )

  77. iHanna says:

    Oh how fun Sharon, a great stitch for this glorious week. It’s time consuming but rather fun to sew!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *