Pistil Stitch

Pistil Stitch

Pistil Stitch

Pistil stitch is really a French Knot with a tail. It is ideal to use for the centre of flowers or arranged in a circle as a flower motif. The weight of the thread will determine the size of the finished stitch. You can also work this stitch using silk ribbon.

Crazy Quilt Block 93 detail 603

Pistil stitch is also known as long tack knot stitch, and Italian knot stitch. But the most common name is Pistil stitch, perhaps because of its resemblance to the pistils and stamens in flowers.

Some people find it better to work this stitch with the fabric stretched in an embroidery hoop. I recommend that you use a milliner’s needle as they are the secret weapon in creating many of the knotted stitches. 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. This makes sliding any of the knotted stitches easy. It works for any stitch where part of the process involves wrapping the thread around the needle and then moving the thread along the needle in order to complete the stitch.

How to work Pistil stitch

step by step tutorial for pistil stitch 1

Bring the thread to the front of your fabric. Wrap the thread twice around the needle, as you would a French knot. Then insert the needle back into the fabric a little distance from where it emerged, holding the ‘tail’ of the knot taut and flat to the fabric.

step by step tutorial for pistil stitch 2

Take the needle and thread through to the back of the fabric.

step by step tutorial for pistil stitch 4

At this point, it is sometimes helpful to brush the knot down the shaft of the needle with the left thumbnail so that it is sitting firmly on the fabric.

step by step tutorial for pistil stitch 3

Hold the knot with your thumb as you pull the thread through to the back of the fabric.

And that’s it!

a tangle of pins

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Happy stitching!


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