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 as they are the secret weapon in creating not only French knots, but also Bullion knots and many of the 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 that was blended with a metallic thread to create the ‘grapes’ in this piece of crazy quilting.
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.
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