French knot tutorial

To learn how to do French knots, why not check out my French knot tutorial. It includes:

  • illustrated embroidery stitch instructions
  • French knot videos (one for right-handers and one for left-handers)
  • tips for success
  • alternatives to French knots
  • Royal School of Needlework stitch bank.  

French knot uses

French knots are a very popular and commonly used stitch. You can use them for any design which needs single dots or for filling space with groups of dots to create texture, for example on French knot embroidery flowers. 

There’s a definite knack for doing French knots, so my video demonstration on this page will be useful for right-handed people. There's also a French knot embroidery video for left-handers on my Facebook page.  In this photo the French knots are the dots at the end of each spoke in my stitch sampler design:

French knot tutorial, example

French knot tutorial

French knot tutorial
  • Bring the needle up through the fabric. 
  • Wrap the thread round the needle three times, coming over the top of the needle towards you. 
  • Holding the thread tight, pull the needle back through the fabric close to where you first came through, but not in exactly the same spot.

French knot video

French knot tips

The trick is not to put your needle in exactly the same hole you brought it out of as it will just come undone without forming a knot.

Don't pull your thread too tight or it will be difficult to pull your needle through, but you need to pull it tight enough for the thread to stay wrapped around your needle. With practice, you'll find the right tension and it will feel natural.

Hold onto the thread in your non-needle hand, keeping it pulled until the last minute. That stops the thread from knotting and stops the wraps coming undone.

If you're doing a lot of French knots, consider using an embroidery stand. You can use both hands for stitching because you aren't having to use one hand to hold the hoop. You'll also avoid getting cramp from doing a lot of repetitive stitching.

I chose the Sonata lap stand below to work my blue hearts embroidery design which is entirely made up of French knots. I chose this one because it would hold my own (very old, but much-loved!) embroidery hoop. You can also get embroidery lap stands with an embroidery hoop built in, like the Elbesee ones shown on the same page. You put the stand under your thigh when you're sitting down. 

Embroidery lap stand used for French knots

Download my free stitch guide covering 10 basic embroidery stitches, including a French knot tutorial.

Alternatives to French knots

If you really struggle with French knots, you could try colonial knots instead. Most people find them easier to do. 

You can use other alternatives such as seed stitch or little cross stitches instead of knots, depending on the pattern.

More on French knots

The Royal School of Needlework has a stitch bank which aims to preserve every known stitch. It will become a world-wide directory of embroidery stitches. You can read their stitch bank entry for French knots and see their French knot tutorial here.