Sunday, October 11, 2015

Reverse French Knot: A Stitch for Brazilian Dimensional (or any other) Embroidery

Here's a picture of a hollyhock I found blooming in my side yard a week or so ago. Isn't it pretty?  It has absolutely nothing to do with this post except that I think it's pretty.
Back in "The Olden Days" - yes, even when I did my first embroidery on those dish towels and dresser scarves my mother provided, I had SO much trouble with French knots which liked to disappear beneath the fabric.

Then I grew up and discovered Brazilian embroidery. I still had problem with disappearing French knots, but a fellow stitcher in one of my first B.E. classes patiently showed me her version of the French knot. I've done this ever since and haven't ever lost a knot, so I thought I'd share the technique with you.

I call it a "Reverse French Knot" (It reminds me of a colonial knot, worked upside down...).  Here's a picture:
And here's my explanation:

     Bring threaded needle up from fabric. Grasp the floss coming up from the fabric. Point needle toward the fabric, cross needle over the floss and "scoop" the floss around the needle 2-3 times. [A] (It's like stirring batter in a bowl.)

      Next, flip the tip of the wrapped needle up and over the floss [B] and point the needle down to the fabric and go through the fabric to finish the Reverse French Knot.

This "crossover" of the floss beneath the wraps will secure the stitch on top of the fabric.

This is how I have been happily making French knots for the past 20-plus years. I thought I should write the directions and add them to the "What Works For Me" notes I like to make. For those who have stitched my Millefiori design #8005 "Wind Chimes", you have already seen it. 
By the way, there is enough interest in this design that I am planning a small reprinting, and it should soon be available for you to stitch. If you'd like to pre-order your copy, just email me at link shown on this page. I'll save a copy for you.

I also published this stitch/technique in my latest book (Millefiori #8000 My Book of Stitches). In the index it is listed as a "Reverse Colonial Knot".  It's either colonial or French, but it works. Here's a picture of my book. People are calling it "The Pink Book". It is almost 300 pages of pure stitching excitement, and it's available at my website and is also available at

 That's all for now.  Back to my embroidery . . .




  1. Replies
    1. No, sorry Dogwood. I'd love to print in color but would have to charge a ridiculous amount, so I'm posting pictures here on my blog, but mostly on my Facebook page named "Millefiori".

    2. Thank you! I love seeing your work - it's beautiful!

    3. Thank you for the nice words. It's great fun having a job you love, plus an extra bonus that people enjoy stitching these designs.

  2. Your book seems to be out of stock on Amazon :-(

    1. Thanks for letting me know. I'll have to go over there and fix it. Meanwhile, you can order from my website if you like - I accept PayPal, but if you prefer to prepay with a check, just email me for the address: RWRW-at-Comcast-dot-net.

  3. Thank you for sharing the instructions. I've had problems with French Knot, too, and I look forward to trying it! Also, this method seems like a good approach for anchoring other knot stitch variations.
    With Appreciation, L. M.

    1. I think you'll like it; also think it is the thread crossing over beneath the needle that keeps the knot from sinking. Whenever I make French or colonial knots (I prefer the more dimensional colonial knots), I use both hands - one holding the floss for good tension, the other the needle. To make this work, I went to Home Depot and bought a Quick Grip clamp (made by Vice Grip) for my frame so both hands will be free.