embroidery / Projects and Tutorials

How to anchor an isolated French knot for embroidery

embroidered dove with French knot for eyeThe French knot is one of the most popular and widely-used embroidery stitches. But sometimes you only need one, as for the eye of this little dove. Here is a technique for anchoring a single French knot. It’s especially useful when the knot is isolated and not conveniently near any other of your stitches.

In the end, you’ll essentially end up with the ends of the thread tied into a double knot on the back side of the project fabric right underneath the French knot. In order to manage the end of the thread while you’re making the French knot, and in order to make sure the ends of your thread are long enough to tie into a double knot, this technique starts with a wasting knot that’s inserted a distance from the spot where you want to make your French knot. The technique might sound and even looks a bit fiddly, but once you’ve completed one you’ll see it’s quite easy.

Here’s how the steps break down:

Make a double knot near the end of your embroidery thread. This is called a waste knot since we’ll be cutting it off and discarding it eventually. You might be embroidering with several strands of thread, but the diagram will show them as one thread.

Bring the needle down through the front of the fabric about 1.5 to 2 inches away from where you intend to place the French knot.

Bring the needle up through the fabric where you want to make the French knot.

isolated french knot waste knot

Make your French knot (here’s a link to the instructions on how to embroider a French knot).

isolated french knot

Turn the project over. From the back of the fabric, cut the thread close to the wasting knot, and cut your working thread about 1.5 to 2 inches away from where you created the French knot. The French knot is rather vulnerable at this point, so move right on to the next step and work carefully to protect your French knot.

isolated french knot cut waste knot

With the two ends of the thread, tie a double knot. Trim the ends of the thread.

isolated french knot back

Discard the waste knot.

Now you have a single French knot. Voila!

Jewish embroidery kitYou can find a kit for this dove in the shop.