A Beginner’s Guide on how to do a Perfect French Knot
French Knots are such a fun bubbly stitch that is used in so many wonderful embroidery patterns! As the name suggests, this stitch involves creating cute little knots with your thread that add so much texture and whimsy to your embroidery creations.
However, this stitch can be tricky to get right as a beginner. It takes a bit of practice to get used to, and you need to learn the technique properly in order for it to click. But trust me that the effort is so worthwhile. That’s where I come in!
I’ve tried creating French Knots using a whole heap of different techniques, and I’ve had my fair share of failed knots along the way! But I’ve found by following this exact method, you will get your French Knots right every time.
And before you know it, you’ll be doing them in your sleep.
So what are my best tips and tricks for doing a perfect French Knot?
Bring your thread up through the embroidery fabric, and pull all the slack through, so that your knot is securing it against the backside of the fabric.
Hold your needle down near the hole you came up from, directly below where the thread is coming out of the fabric. Use your stitching hand to hold your needle so that it's parallel with the fabric, with the point facing left.
Your free hand is going to do a lot of the work when it comes to stitching a French Knot. For now, use it to hold the main length of the thread, so that it's got a bit of tension.
Now use your left hand to wind the lower section of the thread around the tip of your needle a couple of times (near the point).
TIP:For this part, you want your thread to wrap down and overyour needle (which is sitting below where your thread comes out of the fabric). This is important, because it will get confusing if you try holding your needle above the thread and wrapping it up there. Trust me on this one.
Now keep holding the tension on the thread with your free hand, while you hold the needle in place with your stitching hand.
Use your stitching hand to move the tip of the needle back towards where it came up, and gently poke the tip back down right beside.
As you do this, keep the tension on with your free hand so that you see the wraps move down towards the tip of the needle. At this point, you should see how the wraps are sitting on the surface of the fabric in a little knot shape. That's what we want!
TIP:Don't poke your needle back down into exactly the same hole that you came up from. This could cause your knot to pull through to the back of the fabric. Instead, poke your needle down a smidge beside where you first came up.
Next, push the needle down through the fabric until it’s about three quarters of the way through. You might need to give it a bit of a swivel to make it pop through to the underside.
At this point, you will still be using your free hand to hold the tension on the tail of thread at the top. So keep doing that - and press the working thread against the hoop to hold it securely in place. Because you're about to let go with your stitching hand...
Now let go of the needle with your stitching hand, and reach underneath to grab the needle - it should be mostly poking through the fabric.
Then gently and slowly use your stitching hand to pull all of the slack of the thread through to the underside. Once it's all through, you should be left with an adorable French knot on the top of the fabric (with the remaining thread on the underside of the fabric)!
TIP:You'll get a feel for how much tension to hold on the thread with your left hand, but it's so important you do this! Only let go of the thread right at the last moment when your tail of thread disappears into the fabric. Otherwise, your knot might unravel or even get bunched up!
Examples of French Knots in my patterns
Let's look at some examples of how you can use this awesome foundation stitch in your work!
First up, here's myFive Flowers pattern. See the French Knots are used in the beautiful flower centres, and as the entire flower shape with the hyacinths?
I've also used lots of French Knots in my Daisy Blooms pattern. See how they have two tones, and merge to create a lovely textured effect?
Last up, check out the French Knots in my pattern Winter Wonderland! I just love how they create a whimsical snowy effect.
I hope you feel so much more confident making perfectly round French Knots after reading this article. I know this stitch can be tricky, but the more you practice, the better you’ll get!
So there you have it, all my top tips and knowledge you need to make perfect French Knots. This stitch will be drawn upon again and again as you make more patterns along your embroidery journey, so it will hold you in good stead to nail these knots from the get-go. I’m so excited for you!
If you enjoyed learning how to make perfect French Knots, then you may also enjoy my Modern Embroidery Foundations course.
This course takes you through all the beginner techniques and knowledge you need to make your first beginner pattern, Little Wildflower Meadow! Plus, it includes a beautiful second pattern, Blooming Lovely, which is a fantastic place to practice your newfound skills. These patterns also both include French Knots, so they are great for practicing this stitch!
I would totally recommend my Modern Embroidery Foundations Course, as it covers more stitch techniques than this blog, and you can also do it at your own place. Plus, this is a great way to hold yourself accountable for your own me-time and continue on your path to becoming a modern embroidery superstar.