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Embroidery Fundamentals: How to Do French Knots

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What You'll Be Creating

French knots are a stitch that people tend to either love or hate. This tutorial will give you some great pointers that will have you easily creating this tricky stitch in minutes!


French Knot SuppliesFrench Knot SuppliesFrench Knot Supplies
  • Muslin cloth (about 15cm square) 
  • Embroidery floss in color of your choice 
  • Scissors 
  • Embroidery needle 
  • Embroidery hoop

1. Prepare Your Fabric for Stitching

Step 1

Secure your fabric into your embroidery hoop.

Make sure your fabric is taut inside the hoop and smooth out any wrinkles. Tighten the hoop around your fabric before you begin stitching.

Secure Fabric in HoopSecure Fabric in HoopSecure Fabric in Hoop

2. Stitch Your French Knot

Step 1

Thread your needle with embroidery floss.

The needle should have the majority of the thread (what you are stitching with) on one side, and a smaller amount (for finishing and tying a final knot once you are finished) on the other side.

Thread NeedleThread NeedleThread Needle

Step 2

Begin your stitch.

Pass your threaded needle through the fabric from back to front. French knots are generally used in embroidery for small details like an eye of a person or animal, or polka dots. For practice purposes, you can start your stitch anywhere you like on the fabric.

Begin StitchBegin StitchBegin Stitch
Back of starting stitchBack of starting stitchBack of starting stitch

The key to a successful French knot is keeping your embroidery floss taut while working. I don't like to knot my floss when I begin stitching, so if you like, you can tape the loose end of your floss down to the back of your work. 

I knot after my stitch is complete to hold it in place, that way I only have one small knot on the back of my finished project.

Tape ThreadTape ThreadTape Thread

Step 3

To create a French knot, I like to use both hands so I can keep everything tight. I hold my needle in my right hand, and use my left hand to hold the floss tightly (the end that is closest to the fabric).

Needle in front of threadNeedle in front of threadNeedle in front of thread

A standard French knot generally has the floss wrapped around the needle twice. Start with your needle closest to you, and the floss behind it. Wrap around the needle towards yourself twice, keeping the floss tight as you do so. 

Wrap thread twiceWrap thread twiceWrap thread twice

Step 4

Pass your needle back through your fabric from front to back.

While holding the floss tightly, turn your needle downward and pick a point as close to your original starting point as possible without using the same hole. If you pass the needle through the same point both times you may accidentally pull your entire knot through your work and have to start over.

Needle back through fabricNeedle back through fabricNeedle back through fabric
Complete KnotComplete KnotComplete Knot

Pull the needle all the way back through your fabric, and slowly pull through the remaining floss, as shown above. You will notice that the end in my left hand is being held taut until the knot is complete.

Here you have a completed standard French knot.

Standard French KnotStandard French KnotStandard French Knot

Step 5

To complete your French knot, tie the ends of your floss together into one small knot, as shown below. I like to make each knot in a pattern separate to keep the back of my work neat and avoid any snags later on. If you have several French knots grouped closely together, you can make a knot once you have completed the entire group.

Tie KnotTie KnotTie Knot

2. Stitch a Larger French Knot

Step 1

You can make a larger French knot by following the steps above, but instead of wrapping your thread around your needle twice, you wrap it around the needle three times.

Large French KnotLarge French KnotLarge French Knot

Practice Your New Skills

Now that you have completed some French knots, practice as needed and start adding this stitch to some of your favorite embroidery patterns!

Are you new to embroidery? Let me know if you need any help or have any questions in the comments space below. 

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