French Knot Embroidery Tutorial

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The French knot is a simple embroidery stitch that creates a cute little three-dimensional bump. No two French knots are exactly the same, which is part of what makes them so great. Alone, they make excellent animal eyes, decorative points, and flower centers. Clustered together, a french knot creates a wonderfully nubby texture that can be used in a number of creative ways. While sometimes considered difficult to learn, this tutorial lays out a simple step-by-step method that will have you singing the praises of french knots in no time.

French Knot Tutorial ~

French Knot Embroidery Technique

The first thing to know is that a french knot requires two hands to stitch. If you’re filling an area with french knots, lay the hoop on a table top so you have both hands free. Bring the needle up through the fabric to the front. Pull the thread taut with one hand and hold the needle under the thread with the other.

Wandering Threads French Knot Tutorial
Using the hand holding the thread, twist it around the needle twice.

Wandering Threads French Knot Tutorial

Now comes the tricky part. While keeping a tight grasp on the thread in one hand, with the other hand push the needle down through the fabric right next to where you came out. Don’t put it back in the same hole or you might risk pulling the knot all the way through.

Wandering Threads French Knot Tutorial

As you push the needle down, keep holding the thread in your other hand.

Wandering Threads French Knot Tutorial

You just created your first french knot!

Wandering Threads French Knot Tutorial

French Knot Stitch Variations

French Knots will look different depending on a few factors. The first is how many times you wrap the thread around the needle. More wrapping equals a bigger knot. The second factor is the thread itself. If you are using a 6-strand embroidery thread, the more strands you use, the bigger the finished knot.

Wandering Threads French Knot Tutorial

French Knots are great on their own, in loose clusters, stitched tight together to fill a shape, or even as a really cool textured border.

Wandering Threads French Knot Tutorial

French Knot Patterns

A wide variety of the patterns found here on Wandering Threads Embroidery contain french knots. The Arkansas State Pattern uses french knots to portray water bubbles at the bottom of a waterfall.

Arkansas State Embroidery Pattern
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park Pattern features a family of fuzzy bears outlined in french knots to create texture.

Great Smoky Mountain National Park Embroidery Pattern
And many of the State Flower Patterns use french knots in a variety of ways. Pictured below from left to right: Arizona State Flower Pattern {Saguaro Cactus}, Kentucky State Flower Pattern {Goldenrod}, Kansas State Flower Pattern {Sunflower}, New Hampshire State Flower Pattern {Purple Lilac}.

French Knot Embroidery Stitch Tutorial

Happy stitching and remember to keep practicing those french knots!