French knot embroidery stitch


I first came across French knots when sewing toys as a teenager. My mother had taught me how to sew but I wasn’t confident sewing clothing for myself so I tried to hone my skills by making toys where it wasn’t critical to get things perfect. The French knots in that context were used for adding freckles and whiskers onto sock bunnies or onto Beatrix Potter toys (I was given a book on how to sew sock bunnies and another on how to make lots of different Beatrix Potter toys etc). When I first started designing small amigurumi vehicles my first thoughts were that, at the size that I was making, there wasn’t much point in using buttons as headlights etc as you’d have to get very small buttons. Even making a magic ring with a few stitches in it was going to be too big for headlights. French knots were the logical choice for me. 

The tutorial below is one I use for sewing on French knots to my crochet vehicles but you can use the technique for any other use you have for French knots. This tutorial is written with yarn as the thread but, of course, you can use embroidery thread instead with an embroidery needle. Since my main use for French knots is as vehicle lights I’ve written it as if making tail lights for a vehicle (and the photos come from the pattern for one of my vehicles - the pattern will be added to the site at some point).


It is best to do your French knots before you sew the vehicle together as you can anchor your yarn better with a knot on the wrong side of your vehicle. It is possible to add the French knots afterwards but anchoring is more difficult and you have to find a way to hide your tails.

To make a French knot you will need a small length of yarn (I usually cut a 30-40 cm length of yarn but you could probably get away with using much less) and your yarn needle. Thread your yarn onto your needle and make a knot at one end. Insert the needle through from the wrong side to right side where you want your knot to go. This will secure your yarn in the right place.


With your needle pointing up slightly above where the yarn is coming out, wrap the yarn around your needle 2-3 times. Please note if you wind the yarn on with the needle pointing downwards to where the yarn came out of your vehicle body then the knot will not work.


Point your needle down into your vehicle body close to (but not in the exact spot) where you came out at the beginning and carefully pull through to the wrong side without losing the loops on your hook until right at the end.


Pull the yarn through tightly and tie off at the end to complete your knot or insert it through where you want to make your next French knot.


At this stage, you can either trim your yarn on the wrong side or leave it in as extra stuffing. Because I tend to use more yarn than required for making my French knots (I am always worried about having too little and usually end up with too much) I tend to trim the yarn and then use the rest for adding French knots to my next vehicle until the leftover yarn gets too short.