If you’ve just started learning to embroider, you may have come across a French knot and decided to try your hand at it. This stitch can be somewhat frustrating and challenging. When I first started practicing this stitch, the thread would get tangled and the knot often times would end up looking loose or have a big loop on the surface of the fabric. In this tutorial, I’ll explain to you how to do a French knot the easiest way I know how to avoid these problems and making learning a breeze. If you enjoy this tutorial, check out this page to learn more embroidery stitches.
How To Do A French Knot
Here are some pointers to help you out:
- Come up through the back of the fabric with your needle and thread.
TIP: I recommend not knotting the end of your thread before you get started, because a lot of times the needle will snag the knot when you come back down through the fabric. Instead, hold the tail of the thread behind your fabric with your middle finger.
- With your middle finger still holding the tail on the back of the fabric, take the thread you just pulled through in between your index and thumb finger. Wrap the thread around the needle ( depending on what size you’d like the french knot to be, I normally do 2-3 times).
TIP: when you wrap this around the needle, you want the wraps to be snug, but not too tight. You’ll see in a moment when you pull the thread through how it can get stuck if it’s too tight
- Keeping the wraps snug with your fingers, take the needle back down directly beside where you initially came up. Start pulling your thread through the wraps you made.
TIP: the trick with this is to not lose tension of the wraps. When you first start pulling the thread through the back of the fabric, still keep a hold on the thread you’ve been holding with your middle, index, and thumb. Once your thread is almost all the way through you can let go.
If you’d like to see this in action, I have a video on youtube that goes into the basics as well as the tips that I touched on above! Hope this helps!
Like any new skill, this stitch will take some practice. But once you’ve learned how to master this knot, you’ll be able to use it in all sorts of different ways, from filling in large areas, so using them for the center of flowers. They add a lot of dimension to your embroidery keep things interesting!
Learn over 30 hand embroidery stitches with step by step photos and instructions as well as some extra helpful tips sprinkled in so you can perfect them even more.
Why Does My French Knot Pull Through?
Have you ever made a French knot and instead of it sitting nicely on top of the fabric when you pull the thread through, it gets pulled to the back of the fabric, leaving a hole?
If this is happening, then you are making the stitch through the same hole you came up through. This can also happen a lot easier with fabrics that have a looser weave / have larger holes in the fabric. When you make the knot, make sure that you are going back down directly beside the hole you came up through. This will anchor the knot on top of the fabric and prevent it from slipping through to the back.
The size of the stitches you make depend on two things:
- how many times the thread is wrapped around the needle
- how many strands of thread you are using
Below shows how the size of the knot corresponds to how many times the thread was wrapped around the needle. (These were stitched using all 6 strands of embroidery floss.)
French Knot Stitch Flower
Small flowers are easily made using only French knots.
- Make one French knot.
- With another color add five more surrounding the first stitch.
You can also fill in the shape of a flower with little French knots. This is great for flowers with small buds like lavender. To add more dimension, make the knots smaller towards the top by making fewer wraps around the needle.
Patterns For French Knot Practice
All of the patterns below use the french knot, and would be great to practice with!