Mary Corbet

writer and founder


I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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French Knot Video Tutorial


Here’s a video tutorial for the French Knot. This knot is used often in hand-embroidery, but a lot of people avoid it, because it intimidates them. Once you work one correctly, you’ll find that it’s really easy!!!

How to Make a French Knot Video

There are different methods to making French knots. Some people wrap their thread around the needle three times, some only two. I generally use two wraps, but if I want a larger knot, I’ll go with three, depending on the thread I’m using. Going with more than three wraps around the needle doesn’t always work, though – the wraps can become unruly!

You can also achieve larger knots by changing the weight of the thread you are using. Instead of, say, two strands of DMC, you can use three or four.

Here are a couple useful tricks to working good French knots easily:

1. Use a milliner (aka straw) needle. The shaft of this needle is the same circumference as the eye, so it passes very easily through the knot. However, if you don’t have a milliner needle, regular embroidery needles do work. They just might be a bit cantankerous at times. Don’t tension up your thread so tightly that the eye doesn’t fit through the knot!

2. Keep tension on your working thread while you’re pulling your needle through so that your coils stay in their proper place on your needle.

In the video, I’m using a #3 milliner needle and #5 pearl cotton. The pearl cotton is a heavier thread that is easier to see in the video production.

I’m also wrapping the thread forward and around the needle (with the needle placed in front of the working thread at the beginning of the stitch). If you watch the video, you’ll see what I mean. This is not the only way to do the French knot. You can bring the needle up behind the working thread, and wrap the thread around the needle in the other direction (away from you). I’ve seen it done and diagrammed both ways. Erica Wilson’s book, for example, illustrates it the way I’ve done it in the video, except with only one wrap (well, it works out to one and a half wraps, the way she illustrates it). So either way is fine. The direction of the wrap actually does make a difference, if you’re working a stitch with lots of wraps on it, like the bullion knot, but the French knot is so small, that the difference in the direction of the wrap when taking into consideration the twist of the thread is not really noticeable.

Here’s the video:

If you’d like to see how French knots can be used for lettering, feel free to check out this tutorial on embroidered lettering, where I used French knots for one of the letters.

For more video tutorials, please visit the my list of How-To Videos here on Needle ‘n Thread.


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(174) Comments

  1. Oh my goodness thank you!! I am not a proud and accomplished french knotter!! I’ve tried to follow about 6 other tutorials with no luck. But now I am a pro.
    Thank you!

  2. Thank you so much. I just needed a little reminder (it’s about 35 years since I embroidered a French Knot) to finsih making a Christmas stocking! Your site was a quick easy life saver.

  3. Hey im only 13 and im gettin pretty interested in embroidery i was searching on da web and then found ur syte fank you soooo much i just recieved an A* on my textile exam ur my embroidery role model

  4. Hi,I am very much glad on seeing your video on Embroidery.It is so well explained.I hope you’ll also teach us the Bullion Knots.Thanks

  5. Wow!!! Can’t belive it! I could finally manage to do a french knot! (been trying to ever since I started cross stitching) Thanks! It’s a very easy to follow tutorial, and it works!!!

    I have been searching everywhere for someone to Show me how to do these stitches!!!
    I own many books but I learn very little that way I need to SEE someone doing the stiches. I have been crazy quilting for 4 years and now I can make them much more then plain patches.

  7. Thank you , thank you, thank you! I could do these when I was a little girl (my mother showed me), but just couldn’t seem to make it work as an adult trying to follow written instructions. Excellent tutorial.

  8. thank you so much for this fantastic tutorial! so much easier to follow than paper instructions. i can now finally finish my embroidery.

  9. Thank you so much for your instructional videos. My 87 year old mother has a pattern she is doing which needs the pistol stitch. I think it looks something like the french knot but long. Is that right?

  10. Hi, Hazel – that’s right. For pistol stitch, instead of going down into the fabric right next to where you came up and placing the knot right there, you take your needle a distance away from where you came up, to make the line of the pistol stitch. The rest of the stitch is the same – wrap your needle, hold the working thread to keep tension while you pull through, and there’s your pistol stitch.

    Hope that’s helpful!

  11. Hi
    I just got my computer and came to your site and now I cannot see any of your videos. There is just a blank spot where they used to be. Can you or any of your readers help me access the videos.

  12. Thank you — I was trying to do a French knot based on what I read in a book. Your video was indispensible. Thank you so much!

  13. Thanks so much! I tried to make french knots from written insructions but they always turned out flat because I wasn’t holding the thread with my left hand correctly. Now they are perfect!
    Karen Oregon

  14. Thanks for posting this. In a panic last night I forgot how to make french knots since it’s been years since I’ve picked up an embroidery needle.

    This was so easy to understand!

  15. consider this comment posted on all of your tutorials. thank you so much for posting these. i had difficulty with several stitches and your tutorials straightened me out. bravo to your high quality vids and fantastic instruction!

  16. Thank you, such an easy explination on these stiches! This is such a wonderful link for those of us who have only just begun!

  17. thanks heaps for your site. your visual/vocal instructions are excellent. i have saved this site in my favourites so i can refer back to this site for another lesson . you are a very thoughtfull person to add this free editorial. thanks for you patience , time and knowledge.regards cheryl

  18. YAY!! I LOVE your wonderful videos :o) I am a quilter and have getting hooked on using hand embroidery on by blocks to add extra charm. Thankyou so much for investing your time to make these for us. I’ve bookmarked it. Amie-Tennessee :oD

  19. Thank You’
    Such an easy explination on
    these stiches! thankyou so much for investing your time to make these for us.
    I like wonderful videos.

  20. Thank you so much! I was taking a sewing class and did not know how to make a french knot and this really helped! This is a great resource for sewing!!

  21. Thanks a million! We couldn’t quite understand the written directions in our embroidery kit, but now my daughter and I can both do the french knot with ease! πŸ™‚

  22. Your videos are fantastic. Not only are the instructions clear and really easy to follow, your voice is calm and soothing. Great to calm down the frustrated stitcher!! Eternal gratitude. Sandy

  23. Thank you SO much for this excellent tutorial — I’ve been trying to figure these out forever and you made it so easy!

  24. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I struggled for for two days trying to make french knots. I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. After viewing your tutorial twice, I made one on the first try! I’m now on my fifth consecutive knot. Stichin’ days are here again!

  25. Absolutely fabulous! You make it look so easy… and it IS once it is being done correctly. Thank you very much for showing me how πŸ™‚

  26. Thank you soooo much!!! I haven’t made a french knot since I was a girlscout and you brought it right back. I thought it would be like riding a bike and it wasn’t and I was lucky to find your site!

  27. You are so wonderful!!! Since I’ve never embroidered/stitched in my life, I wondered whether I would be able to carry it through. I just recently got the ‘bug’ to create something for my son, who’s only one years old. After browsing the web and buying books/magazines on sewing/embroidery, I got overwhelmed with the information. Once I read some of your posts and watched the videos, I realized that I could actually do these stitches. Thank you so very much for having the videos and the illustrated tutorials; they’re a life saver and I cannot wait to try the basics and make something for my son. Please don’t ever stop what you’re doing and don’t ever think that you’re doing too much. I’m just so inspired right now, I’m elated!


  28. Thank you so much for such a great video. I now can finish the project I have been working on. This is a real help. I will be checking out more videos in the future.

  29. WoW!— thank you very much.
    I’m doing the french knot on a baby blanket I just finished.
    I’m amazed it’s so easy.
    Great tutorial

  30. Wow, I’m glad that everyone had good luck. My biggest problem is that I’m left-handed and I have to do it backwards…still can’t get it. Very sad. Great video, though.

  31. Hey I am from India,

    Its an excelllent site,we can easily learn embroidery through this demonstration.

    I have personally paid fees to learn hand embroidery, but by the time i come home i tend to forget the method.

    I am very thank full for creating such informative sites

  32. I had no idea how to do this, and I found your video! I’m so thankful. After watching you make the very first knot I was able to make a french knot. You’re a life saver!

    Denton, TX

  33. Thank you so much for this easy video! Up until this point I had yet to figure it out and was freaking since I am doing a Thomas Kinkade kit that is practically ONLY french knots!

  34. Bless you. I’ve done French knots before, but not for awhile and I could not remember. Written instructions went way over my head, but this was perfect.

  35. hey mary…

    i was looking at the french knots video…. and i noticed ur floss was not doubled… is it like that for all stitch technique or was that just for the french knot???

  36. Hi, Jules –

    I’m using perle cotton in the video, so no, it wouldn’t be doubled. Even with stranded cotton, you don’t have to double your floss. If you want teeny tiny French knots, you can just use one strand of cotton. If you want bigger knots, add the number of strands you need to get the size you want.

    With perle cotton, you don’t usually double it, as it’s already pretty darned thick! πŸ™‚

    Hope that helps!


  37. Thanks for posting this video. I’m curious about about how you anchor the beginning and end of a single french knot.

    When you first place your needle through the fabric, do you first knot the thread to anchor it on the reverse side? I’m assuming this is so, because you need to have tension on the thread.

    Then to end the stitch, do you stitch through the anchoring knot on the reverse?

    Thanks for your wonderful site. I visit at least once a week. I’ve learn a LOT! πŸ™‚


  38. Thanks for posting this video. I’m curious about about how you anchor the beginning and end of a single french knot.

    When you first place your needle through the fabric, do you first knot the thread to anchor it on the reverse side? I’m assuming this is so, because you need to have tension on the thread.

    Then to end the stitch, do you stitch through the anchoring knot on the reverse?

    Thanks for your wonderful site. I visit at least once a week. I’ve learn a LOT! πŸ™‚


  39. Hi, Susan –

    That’s a good question! I’ll address that if I ever re-make this video!

    But, in the meantime, if you look under “tips and tricks for hand embroidery” in the top right column on the website, you’ll find there a list of articles that are instructive, and under there, and index on different ways to start and end threads. These aren’t the only ways, but the only ones I’ve written whole posts about!

    Anyway, normally for French knots, if I’m using a fine thread, it’s easy enough to work a couple tiny anchor stitches over one thread, and then to work the French knots on top of that. Otherwise, if there are other embroidered areas right close by, I’ll work anchoring stitches in the areas close by that will be embroidered, then carry the thread over. Even with heavy thread, you can usually manage anchor stitches and stitch into them or over them somehow. It’s better than a knot, anyway, I think…

    Hope that helps!


  40. I am working on my first ever cross stitch, (of a Geisha) that uses several French Knots and I must admit, I have been alittle intimidated by this step. But watching your video and doing it at the same time, was an incredible help!

  41. Thankyou so much for your explanation on sewing the french knot I have try,ed all way,s but i could not do it. Thank you for your video it was a great help

  42. thank you SO MUCH I cross stitch occasionally but I have never (and I can’t figure out how because its such a common stitch) come across a french knot and the instructions in the kid make absolutely no sense unless you can actually see it…..its got all this point A point B stuff…..again thanks BUNCHES!!!!! πŸ˜€


  43. This is a very good video! I’m almost finished with a cross-stitch project and saved the french-knots for last. I got it now!

    Thanks for the video!!

  44. Thanks! My Grandma taught my embroidery and I wanted to do this stitch but couldn't remember! Thanks for all the help!

  45. Thanks! My grandma taught my embroidery 3 summers ago and I took it up quickly. I recently had some projects to embroider and had forgotten how to do this stitch! Thanks for the reminder! πŸ˜€

  46. Thank you so much! This is the clearest video I have found anywhere! I was getting very frustrated that after spending I don't even want to think how long on this huge dolphin picture, I couldn't do the detailing on the bubbles. Thanks again πŸ™‚

  47. Wonderful. After starting out in the dark, I only watched the first french knot that you do and I was able to finish my work..! Many thanks.

  48. Thank you so much, havent done French knots for years, and am doing a quilt for my great grandchild of 3 months…this tutorial has been absolutely great.
    Phyllis (78)

  49. very helpful!!

    the best how to on the french knot.

    it was helpful including the minor mistake on the sixth knot — since it showed me how to make the knot step by step at a Slower pace!

    great site πŸ™‚

    thank you

  50. very helpful!!

    the best how to on the french knot.

    it was helpful including the minor mistake on the sixth knot — since it showed me how to make the knot step by step at a Slower pace!

    great site πŸ™‚

    thank you

  51. Thank you for your site. I am looking for an example of how to do an elongated french knot. I saw it in a book around the edge of a felt seahorse. Perhaps it has a different name? Thank you.

  52. Hi, Camille –

    Well, you're right – it is called something else: pistol stitch. It's exactly what you said, though – an elongated French knot. So, instead of putting your needle back into the fabric right next to where you came up, you take it down as far away as the length of the stitch, so that you end up with a long straight stitch with the knot ending up on the very tip of the long stitch.

    Hope that helps!


  53. Great site, I am going back to my embroidery days and one thing I never learnt was the french knot, well I don't really know many stiches. Anyway, I found your site really really helpful.


  54. I am so thrilled and excited to find this site. All I wanted to know was how to do a "French Knot" after searching the internet for hours! I found you and it's free!!! I just can not believe how lucky I am to find you. A million thank you's!!!!!!
    Keep up the good work

  55. This tutorial rocks!!!!! Have tried and failed to do these for ages but with this tutorial I can now do perfect french knots. Amazed hoe simple you have made it – Thank you very much! Happy Holidays.x

  56. I just spent the better part of an hour trying to learn a French knot from a diagram and after watching this, I got it in one try! Thank you so much!

  57. Thanks! This is so helpful. I’ve wanted to learn some simple embroidery stitches for a long time, but just reading instructions was NOT working. This was so clear, easy to see, easy to understand. Wonderful.

  58. So delighted to find this wonderful explanation and see where I was going wrong-have never been able to master French Knots before, but now I can finish that picture! Great site-thank-you.


  60. Thank you, this was very helpful!thank you veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeryyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy mucHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!1!!!!

    1. Hi, Mary Ann – it’s all in the way the thread is twisted. The French knot wraps in the same direction around the needle, and the colonial knot wraps in a figure 8 around the needle…. They look slightly different when finished, because of the twist, but if you were just glancing, it wouldn’t be so obvious that it was one and not the other, without looking closely at the knot. Hope that helps!


  61. I look forward to watching your videos. I enjoy making French knots but your video was interesting to me. You wrap the needle the opposite direction that I do. You bring the thread over and towards you. I wrap over and away from me. I do wrap twice. I’ve seen some directions say to wrap once. I’ve never trusted that style, always worried it wouldn’t stay in a knot. Thank you for the video and I’ll have to try it your way.

  62. Thank you so much for this video. I have looked through several written explanations as well as pictures that are supposed to explain the “knot”. None of them helped. But yours was fantastic. I am headed upstairs to grab my needle and thread right now. I really appreciate the time you took to teach us.

  63. I have been doing these #@*&% french knots wrong for years! You have put me on the right path. I also watched your turkey work video. I have a kit that I have been putting off for the longest time because the turkey work looked so complicated. You really made it look less….theatening. Thank you SO much for your wonderful website!

  64. Hi thanks for the tutorial u made it look really easy, the pattern I have uses one strand of thread and says to wrap round the needle 4 times, I’m assuming that’s because it’s thin cotton, will it be as easy to do it with 4? Thanks Georgina

  65. hi Mary i was having trouble doing the french knot for my homework and once i had watched your video i was able to do it! thanks alot!!

  66. Mary, Thanks for the great video after watching you just once I was able to make a french knot in a wedding sampler for my daughter and son-in-laws upcoming wedding. I was getting so frustrated trying to figure it out and actually was thinking about paying someone to do it, but now am finishing it myself. Thanks so much again for you help.

  67. Hi Mary,

    I love your website; it’s been so helpful! My 92 year old grandmother just taught me how to embroider during last winter break. I’m an English teacher too, and I for so long I thought sewing and embroidery were boring even though all the women in my family do one or the other.
    I’m hooked now!

    1. Hi, Michelle – Thanks for your note. It’s good to hear you’re hooked! I find needlework to be a most relaxing thing to do after a day in the classroom. It’s a great stress reliever (not that I’d ever admit that teaching can be stressful!). ~MC

  68. Thanks you so much! I have never been able to get this stitch to work for me! I always end up with a huge mess either in front or back, but your video helped me to figure out what I’ve been doing wrong! Thanks so much!!!!

  69. Hi Mary,
    The french knots sound like so much fun! I was just wondering if you could use them for anything else- i.e. a sea urchin

    Also- have you ever considered trying embriodery with beads? I’m not sure if you have already- but it turns out wonderful!

  70. This was a great, simple video. I’ve been cross-stitching since I was eight, and I’ve found that so many of the online videos are overly complicated. This was so well-done. Now I can finish my thank-you gift for my Nonna!

  71. Thank you so much, Mary! Your explanations are great.
    I was wondering, is there an efficient way to start and finish the thread if I just need one knot and I don’t have other stitches to anchor to? Thank you for your wonderful site!

  72. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! You succeeded in teaching me how to do a french knot where others have tried and failed. I was making a Christmas gift and really wanted to be able to say I had made it ALL myself. Thanks to you, I didn’t have to ask my Mom to put on the french knots.

  73. Hi, Mary Corbet! I am so grateful for your lovely website especially the tutorials. I was wondering what method you recommend for starting and tying off French knots, particularly in a cluster removed from another area of work?

  74. Dear Mary,while showing my friend some quilting squares I came across some candle wicking blocks I had done 33 years,,,she loved them and has inspired m to get back to wicking!!! I came across your site while trying to learn again,,,your videos are just the best!!!Thanks for being here I’m so xcited!! Kathy

  75. I noticed that you always put the needle back into the fabric to the right of the point it emerged. Is that important to the stitch or just habit? I once heard that a French Knot should only have one wrap and any more wraps were just a type of boullion know. Do you have an opinion on that?

  76. Just wanted to say thank you!! I’ve been trying forever to do a french knot and for the life of me just couldn’t understand the instructions!! I am so excited that the animals on my daughters birth record will now have eyes!!! Thanks so much πŸ™‚

  77. Thank you for this tutorial video! I have tried following diagrams in books to learn this stitch, but have never quite figured it out. After watching and sewing along with your video, I got my knot on the first try.

  78. Hi

    I am a textiles student, I think your website is really good. I could never do a french knot until I looked at your websites.

    Can I also use one of your video’s in my presention ?

  79. Hi, Mary! I thought I knew how to sew a French Knot, but all of mine seem to be able to pull right through when I sew them, in fact, they even come undone from the front if I’m ironing a piece I’d like to put on display! Is the secret just using two wraps?

  80. Hi,

    Thanks for posting this! It helped me a lot. Can you kindly also post the design/pattern for the beautiful picture you have posted? I would love to make it!

    Thanks again,

  81. This is a fantastic tutorial! I got the french knot on the first try after watching this; it’s very clear. This makes a confusing stitching technique simple and easy.

  82. THANK YOU for the well done video demonstrating how to make the French knot. The lighting was great, the technique was clearly shown (you never once got your hand in the way of my seeing what you were doing), and you have a pleasant voice. This all makes for great video making.

    It’s my first time on your site so I’m going to go now and look some more! And, perhaps, view more videos. I hope they all are as good as this one is!

    BTW, I got to your site by doing a Bing search “how to make french knots”. If I recall, it was not the 1st one to pop up but I’m so glad to have found you.

  83. Thank you so much! I had tried so hard to learn French knots and just could not do it. Your video helped me actually do it!

  84. Thank you… fantastic explanation for french knots and colonial knots. I am now able to proceed with my embroidery!Will be visiting this site again so glad I found you

  85. Dear Miss Mary,

    I love to sew and I watched your video and I love most of all NOW to french knot

    Thanks Again!

    Natalie M.

  86. Well, this was not really hard but I learn slowly so yeah. I love embroidering so that my push to learn this stitch. Once I got the hang of the stitch it was VERY easy.

  87. hi,

    I love your website I am 10 years old and I am making a blanket with French knots all around the corners and it is quite big thank you for your tutorials and vids they are the best

  88. OMG! Thx so much! I was like hopeless at French Knots, but now, I can do them with no help. I’m only 12 and I took an interest in sewing and embroidery seven months ago. Thanks so much anyway

  89. GREAT tutorial and site — thank you for sharing! Could you tell us if the photo featured at the top of this article (pink foxgloves?) is from a specific pattern, or is it just a little embroidery “doodle”? It’s really pretty!

    1. Hi, Laura – that was from a piece I worked years and years ago, and I’m not exactly sure who the design was by now. It has slipped my memory – but it was definitely a design by someone else. Sorry I can’t help further on that one! ~MC

    1. I tried to learn French knots from someone & I couldn’t get it. Your tutorial worked! So glad I was referred to it! It’s very easy to understand. Thank you!

    1. Hi, You can use any thread for French knots. It depends on the size of knot you want. Anything from one strand of cotton floss (which will give you a tiny knot) to heavy perle cotton, to anything in between, will work!

  90. Hi thanks 4 the help πŸ™‚ I have a suggestion when u put ur new stitch, can u plz let the viewers know which thread u are using +the needle size, so it would be easy. Thanks for teaching us the new stitches every time and ther are very very helpful for all. :-).

  91. Hi Mary,

    I have to thank you so very much for your clear and concise videos. I feel so much less intimidated than I did with my how to book. You’re great!!


  92. I’m relatively new to hand embroidery & haveI watched numerous videos/tutorials on how to do these stitches. Your tutorialss are the best & easiest to understand & follow. I’ve bookmarked this site so I can readily find it. Thank you for making these available.

    1. Thanks, Patricia! I’m so glad you find the tutorials here on Needle ‘n Thread helpful! I’m hoping to add quite a few more video tutorials to the site in 2015.

  93. Success! I received a needle craft for Christmas. The diagrams in directions just didn’work for me. After viewing the video, I successfully made a perfect French knot. Thanks!

  94. Hi Mary!

    I’m in Fresno California working on a crewel kit from the 70s. The french knot instructions did not get me the desired effect. Your youtube video was invaluable!

    Thanks so much πŸ™‚


  95. Hi, your french knot vΓ­deo isn’t working. I have a proyect to finish and the only stitch left are french knots. I don’t stitch them very often I looked in the internet and I think your site is great and sΓ³lo be checking it often.
    I hope you can fix the vΓ­deo.

  96. Hi Mary,
    Thank you for this lovely tutorial! I couldn’t do it before I watched this but you explain and demonstrate it so clearly that after a few tries I can now do it easily! πŸ™‚

  97. Oh. My. Gosh.

    I have never, not EVER, been able to do a French knot, and here you come along with your tutorial and now I can do it.

    I mean, I’ve had god knows how many people show me how to do it and it’s never made sense. Now I’ve made like 30. Thank you.

  98. Thank you so much for this much needed and very clear tutorial. I’m about to embroider a man with a beard and wanted to make his beard with French knots… now I can! πŸ™‚

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