French Knot Tips and Tricks
A french knot is a difficult stitch for some people but I have a tip or two in this tutorial. I am putting them upfront so you 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, don’t put your needle back into the same hole.
Stitchers problem #2 Your wraps get stuck on the needle
The second tip is to use milliners needles. They are the secret weapon in creating not only French knots, Bullion knots, and many other knotted stitches.
You will find it easier to work all of the knotted stitches with milliner’s needles, or straw needles, because of their design. Most embroidery needles have an eye that is wider than the shaft of the needle. Milliner’s 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 Your 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!
How to work French Knots
Bring the needle out through the fabric. And holding the thread taut with your left hand, twist the needle around the thread two or three times.
Still 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.
Brush 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.
Use your left index finger and hold the thread against the fabric as you pull the thread through the knot. This helps prevent tangles.
The 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. I used hand-dyed cotton perle # 5 and #8 in the sample below, and I made the white French knots using Metallic Madeira braid 9808.
In this sample, I have used an acrylic knitting yarn blended with a metallic thread to create the ‘grapes’.
I created the next sample using a similar design with hand-dyed 4mm silk ribbon.
You can use them in contemporary hand embroidery too. Here they are uses in combination with small straight stitches and bullion knots.
This is another example of French knots used in Contemporary embroidery used in combination with beading and eyelets. I used a mix of thread, including cotton perle #5 and #8, silk, stranded cotton floss, cotton broder, chainette thread and rayon ribbon floss.
The last sample is of french knots worked in cotton perle #5. It is a small detail on a crazy quilt block.
You will find that French knots have several names, such as French dot, knotted stitch, twisted knot stitch and wound stitch.
Experimenting with different threads can be expensive. You would normally have to buy a whole skein of each type of thread. My thread twisties are a combination of different threads to use in creative hand embroidery. These enable you to try out stitching with something other than stranded cotton. For the price of just a few skeins, you can experiment with a bundle of threads of luscious colours and many different textures.
These are creative embroiders threads. With them, I hope to encourage you to experiment. Each Twistie is a thread bundle containing silk, cotton, rayon and wool. Threads range from extra fine (the same thickness as 1 strand of embroidery floss) to chunky couchable textured yarns. All threads have a soft and manageable drape. Twisting them around a needle makes experimental hand embroidery an interesting journey rather than a battle. Many are hand dyed by me. All are threads I use. You may find a similar thread twist but no two are identical.
You will find my thread twisties in the Pintangle shop here.
One of my favourite stitch and such a beautiful one. My sample is here.
2018 Stitch 17 French Knot at https://www.thecrafties.com/2018/10/tast-roundup/
Wow! The mixture of colors in the thread make such a beautiful piece of art. Gorgeous!
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
by the way, I love Bohin needles. I prefer their milliners straws when stitching beads onto things. I have a daily beading project – coming up to completing the 3rd year.
Sandy in the UK
I did a few french knots on my crazy quilt. It needs a few more but that will have to wait for another day.
Here is my sample – http://hokkaidokudasai.blogspot.jp/2015/10/take-stitch-tuesday-15-french-knots.html
I’ve posted my French Knots for Take A Stitch Tuesday. Love your samples, they are so beautiful. Have a great day!
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!
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 http://ullabritt.wordpress.com/tast-2012/16-french-knots/
coucou sharon j’ai fini mon point qui est visible sur mon blog
I have posted my french knots at http://meanderingwithmymuse.blogspot.com/. Thank you for looking.
I’m late yet again.. here are my French Knots…
I did many french knots finishing my pebble.
Here’s my sampler with french knots and some other stitches: http://stitchinfingers.ning.com/photo/frenchknots
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:
I’m a bit late this week as I had a nightmare with one of my threads. I got there in the end though 🙂 http://kirajones.co.uk/?p=733
This is my example of French Knots.
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:
Life got in the way this week, so here is the sample of French knots that I have just finished.
Here are my French Knots. Used as a seam treatment on my CQJP.
My samples are on my blog http://focus-on-fiber.blogspot.com
Here are my examples for the French Knot.
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.
Forgot the second link:
Started working on my French Knots but only got the outline done.
Here is another one of my French Knot designs
Hello Sharon ,
I like embrodering french knots .This is my work for this week :http://foliesdesandrine.canalblog.com
Good week end
My attempts at French Knots. Not a patch on my Grandmothers.
French knot? Knot garden? Ah…French Knot Garden!!!!
See it at http://www.flickr.com/photos/stitchintime
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://www.carorose.typepad.com
and the Flikr group:
I’ve posted work for Stem, Satin and French knots at
I like French knots.
My week 16 sample is at http://stitchinfingers.ning.com/photo/frenchknotteapot?context=latest. I am enjoying this challenge because it forces me to do a new sample each week. Not always easy, but rewarding.
I think I posted my french knot piece on last weeks TAST by accident…but here it is:
Thank you Sharon for suggesting using milliner needles for working french knots. A great tip. Made a butterfly with 497 french knots: http://jennypennypoppy.blogspot.ca/
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: http://wildrosesandblackberries.blogspot.com/2012/04/tast-week-16-french-knot.html
Hope you like it!
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! http://quiltisland.blogspot.com/2012/04/forsythia-and-flowers.html
So many lovely samples of stitching here, pleased to be part of it.
Yea! French Knots: http://thetruevine.wordpress.com/2012/04/21/take-a-stitch-tuesday-french-knot/
Thanks Sharon for highlight my work this week. My tast week 16 is post here:
http://stitchinfingers.ning.com/photo/tast-week-16-french-knot-1?context=user and here:
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.
Finally got around to posting my progress on my blog – http://jacquiboydalden.blogspot.com/ . Have been keeping up with everyone’s work via this site and Facebook. Some pretty amazing stuff.
Unfinished sample, but I probably never will, I was being unrealistic when I designed it! Oh well, rock and roll! Week 16 TAST
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.
I’ve finished my pebble embroidery doing many french knots. They are excellent for filling spaces.
Hope you like. Iris Lins
French knot is not my favorit stitch, but I propose a little exercise :
I was finishing my pebble embroidery adding many french knots. french knots are cute!
French knots–one of my favorites! I did a little experimenting with different threads and yarns.
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… http://thatyankstitches.multiply.com/journal/item/302/Take_A_Stitch_Tuesday_2012_Challenge_-_Week_16
a little study in knots
A little study in knots… mixed in with stem stitch and detached chain.
Sharing an older French Knot project – covering a river rock.
On my blog: http://blissfullyimperfect.blogspot.com/2012/04/take-stitch-tuesday-french-knot.html
On flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jckirner/1588414690/
i feel better about this stitch thanks to the tips.
i managed to create a fat little bumble bee~!
I don’t know if the comment registered, so, at the risk of repeating myself – It’s here 🙂
I love this stitch! It’s so versatile and I would spend al ot longer exploring if I could 🙂
Anyway, here’s my sample
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:
http://christinaroland.blogspot.com/2012/04/tast-week-16.html 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.
Here is my butterfly …
Hi Sharon, this is my sample for week 16………….
you can find it here……………
Sharon, I enjoyed this week’s challenge tremendously.
This is what I made:
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 http://embroiderandsew.blogspot.com/2012/04/tast-week-16-french-knot.html
Here is my french knot butterfly
TAST WEEK 16 FRENCH KNOT
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 – http://www.maggies-textiles.blogspot.com
I always wondered why my french knots looked alittle different, and why I had trouble with bouillion stitch. The needle? How simple…
Hi Friend, I loved doing Oxygen. See my happy little fishes.
It’s raining on my blog http://j-en-revais.blogspot.com/2012/04/tast-16.html Have a nice week-end.
I love French knots too. My new sample can be found on my blog.
I stitch this for my daugther,40 years ago.
My work for this week´s challenge is here.
I enjoyed to do this!!!!!
Have a nice day.
It’s a nice stitch! You can see it on my blog
Have a nice week-end!!!
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!
Today I wrote about the French knots and other TAST stitches on my crazy fabric book page:
Here is my contribution for this week:
Here’s a better picture of the seam treatment. http://www.flickr.com/photos/55086543@N02/5178195647/in/photostream
I love french knots!! Here’s my version of hycinth flowers with french knots. http://www.flickr.com/photos/55086543@N02/5178195647/in/photostream
You can see my work for last two weeks,
I have never used this stitch, but I really loved it and enjoyed it!
I “knotted” two afternoons – the print came from my stash of little treasures.
Here is my attempt on french knot: http://fabricfusion.blogspot.com/2012/04/tast-wek-16-french-knot.html
I love french knots! Here are some experiments:
Love French knots. Can’t stitch more than an hour without putting in one or two just because.
I posted two french knot samples on my blog at:
My first post to week. Detais of a recently work still in progress…
Thank you for the tips! I always had problems passing the needle through the knot, but with a “straw” needle it was easy! 🙂
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.
I have just about caught up with TAST on my sampler at http://jowynnjohns.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/catching-up-with-tast/
I like French knots, but I like Colonial knots better – for one reason they are so much easier!
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.
Thank you Sharon for this chance to show some wonderful work and ideas.
this is my pictures
My all time favorite stitch, Sharon! Here’s my blog post: http://debbiesfiberwork.blogspot.com/2012/04/tast-week-16.html
Here is my French knot sampler. I enjoyed this one.
I have not done any new projects but shared pictures of some old projects..
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!
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 🙂
It’s a ‘more from the archives’ post, but it’s ready to see:
In the meantime, I’m working on my sampler…
My favourite stitch! The perfect stitch to finish my week 13 sampler.
Here’s my weekly post with old samples:
Sorry, wrong link.
The correct link
I am sorry. Svetlana
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Excellent! I love french knots.
Again, I love you samples Sharon! So gorgeous! You can see what I did at http://princessbubblescreates.blogspot.ca/
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!
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.
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! : – )
Oh how fun Sharon, a great stitch for this glorious week. It’s time consuming but rather fun to sew!