Tutorial: French knot and pistil stitch

Do you know the pistil stitch? I’ve been using it quite a bit lately, I really like it. And it’s perfect when stitching flowers. (I actually used it in flowers in both of my recent embroidery patterns, Las Flores de Frida and Flutterby Garden).

The pistil stitch is really easy! It’s a lot like French knot. In case you don’t know how to do French knot, here is a tutorial for both that and pistil stitch.

French knot

Step 1:
Pull your needle and thread through the fabric, then wind the thread around the needle 2-3 times.

Step 2:
Hold the thread firmly with one hand so it is tightly wound around the needle, then insert the needle into the fabric again and slide the needle through the ‘knot’. Hold the thread taut so the ‘knot’ doesn’t loosen – but don’t hold it so tight that you can’t move the needle through it.

Not sure where to insert the needle? My rule of thumb is the width of the thread I am working on. So a thin thread means the exit and entry points are quite close together, and with a thicker thread they are further apart.

Step 3: 
Hold the thread taut (on the left) as you pull it through the knot (on the right.

Yay! French knots!

Trouble shooting:
I just use a regular embroidery needle when I do French knots, but some find it easier to use milliner needles, so give that a go and see if it makes a difference.

If I have trouble getting my French knots right, it’s usually because my tension is wrong. If that thread isn’t held taut, the knot starts to misbehave and things go messy.

Pistil stitch

Step 1: same as French knot, see above!

Step 2:
Instead of inserting the needle right next to the exit point, insert the needle at a distance to make a nice ‘tail’ on the stitch. Anything up to 1″ /2.5cm from the exit point should work. Anything longer than that and the tail will start to look kinda floppy.

Step 3: same as for French knot, see above.

Here’s a bunch of pistil stitches. Yay!


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