French Knot Wreath Pillow Tutorial french knot wreath pillow

A few years ago I remember seeing at Pottery Barn a pillow with branches and red berries embroidered on it creating a red berry wreath on the front of the pillow. Instead of purchasing that one… I decided to create my own version of a red berry wreath pillow. I changed it up a bit from the original inspiration, using fabric paint markers for the branches and chunky french knots for the berries. Then with a few finishing touches, I have a fun pillow for winter.

If you’ve never embroidered or done needlework, this is a super simple stitch to learn, it’s so forgiving, hard to make a mistake. Plus, I find it so relaxing to work on needlework.

Here’s how I did it:

First, here is the finished project: French Knot Red Berry Wreath Pillow

For the welting around the outside edge, I actually had an old flannel shirt that I made welting from. (if you are unfamiliar with how to make your own welting, I give a little tutorial here in this rocking chair re-do I wrote) french knot wreath pillow trim detail

For the back of the pillow, I used a scrap of fabric I had leftover from these Christmas cones I made a few years ago. (see, you never know when you might need that scrap fabric… that’s why it’s hard for me to just throw the extra away when I’m done with a project) french knot red berry wreath pillow back

The front of the french knot red berry wreath pillow is made from a canvas type material. french knot red berry wreath pillow up close 1

Once I sketched out the wreath on the pillow with chalk, I used permanent fabric markers in multiple colors, lime green, brown, gray to draw in the branch details.

Then it was time to start the french knot red berries…

(By the way, using this thicker canvas fabric is great, especially if you’re just starting out with embroidering, because it’s super strong and durable)

Here’s how I did the knots… french knot red berry wreath pillow bring embroidery floss up to start knot

I want to point out that I used all 6 strands of the embroidery floss at a time. (sometimes for finer work, an embroidery project might call for the floss to be split so you’d maybe only use 2 or 3 strands at a time) but I wanted the berries to be chunky, so I used all the strands.

After I cut a workable length, (about 24-30″ long) and knotted one end of it, (the other end of the floss is loose by the eye of the needle)  and brought the needle up through the canvas from the back, gently pulling the knot on the back snug up to the canvas… french knot red berry wreath pillow step 2 of knot

I then held the needle close to the canvas where I brought it through from the back and holding the thread with my left hand, I wound the thread around the needle tip 5 times… red berry wreath pillow step 3

All the while, pulling the slack on the thread tight with my left hand, as I moved the needle tip to re-enter the canvas from the top. french knot red berry wreath pillow step 4

The tip of the needle needs to go into the canvas next to where the thread came up from the back.  (but not in the same hole as it was brought out from the bottom with, or it’ll fall through) french knot red berry wreath pillow step 5

Once the needle was through the canvas, I had to ever so lightly loosen the slack of the thread I was holding with my left hand, so that the width of the needle eye could fit through the 5 loops. But I let it loosen just ever so lightly… I still held the slack taut. (if you try this knot, you’ll get what I mean. You need to hold the thread tight to control where it knots, but the eye of the needle with the extra layer of thread is wider and will get more difficult to pull through.) french knot keep pulling

I continued to hold the thread taut until the very end of pulling the needle and thread through from the back. In this picture above, the thread is almost all the way through, and I could finally leave go from holding the slack with my left hand.

Once the the thread and needle have pulled all the extra thread back through the back of the canvas, these are the cute little round french knots I had. french knot red berry wreath pillow knots all done

I think when I was a young girl and my grandma taught me to embroider, a true french knot was only 1 wrap around the needle… over the years I’ve used this chunkier knot when I did more of a candlewicking style of embroidery. (even a true candlewicking knot is different than this too) I’m not totally sure if I evolved this knot or I learned it somewhere… But I like it, and on this canvas, it’s sturdy. french knot red berry wreath pillow signature

On the original Pottery Barn red berry wreath pillow, they had large monogrammed letters in the center of the wreath. I’m not much into monogramming, but a little monogrammed signature was a fun touch I thought I’d add… who knows, maybe someday this pillow might be still around long after I’m not and one of my grandchildren or great grandchildren will love to have this piece with a bit of a signature on it?!



Oh I don’t know…

Something like 10,000 knots later, the wreath was finished and I could at that time finish sewing the pillow with the flannel welting and backing I told you about at the beginning of this post. french knot red berry wreath pillow finished

Trust me, if you’ve never done needlework like this before, you get the hang pretty quick when there’s this many knots to do, and pretty soon you can make french knot after french knot without even thinking. Your hands just seem to know what to do.

So, will you try it? Would you make a french knot berry wreath pillow, or something similar?

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Reader Interactions


  1. CheriGee says

    Liz, this pillow is absolutely lovely. It’s been awhile since I’ve done French knots. The last project I made with French knots was a pillow with sheep. After that one, I swore I’d never do this knot again. But you inspire me! One question: how did you do the back? Is each knot tied off before moving on? My Grandmother always told me that the back side of a project must look as pretty as the front side.

    • Liz says

      Thank you. Sheep would be a cute project with French knots! No, for sure I didn’t knot off every stitch, that would make the project take very long. I worked with a length of thread about 18″or so, and when it got too short to do more knots with, I’d knot that that one of on the back and start with a fresh piece. But for sure I worked one small area at a time, being efficient with how much thread I used.

  2. Nici says

    Liz, I love this pillow! The french knot has always eluded me. It’s been a while since I’ve done any needlepoint, but you have made me want to give it a go again. Thanks for the inspiration! And, thanks for sharing this at my Creative Ways Link Party. You’ll be featured at tomorrow night’s party! Have a blessed week!

  3. Julie Reinwald says

    Wow, this is a work of art! It’s beautiful! I used to do a lot of embroidery, and I think that making all of the French knots could be a little tedious, haha. I applaud your skill and your patience!

  4. Nellie says

    Absolutely love your gorgeous pillow……..what a fine job you have done on this, and love the welting in the
    plaid, very nice………..

    Happy Valentine’s Day!!
    Blessings, Nellie

  5. Pondside says

    I really like what you have done with the cushion – it is beautiful! Your photos are very clear – a help to those of us who might like to try to make one ourselves.

  6. Lori says

    What a gorgeous pillow and to think you made it! It ranks right up there with any PB pillow. Such talent to draw out the branches too! I remember doing needlework way back when I was first married and even learned the French Knot. Not sure I’d have the patience to do that many though! Great job!

  7. Mimi says

    Hello Liz. How lovely to meet you! I adore French Knots for their texture, and you’ve outdone yourself with this pretty wreath! I wonder if I can persuade you to join us at my linkup, Five Star Frou-Frou at A Tray of Bliss. We’re always swooning over beautiful embroidery and crafts, and I think you’d fit right in. Love, Mimi xxx

  8. Barbara says

    Your french knots are so pretty. My Mom used to embroider like this. I still have a pillow she made years ago and also a wall hanging. Thanks for showing me how to make the stitch. I may work on it someday!

  9. Sally says

    That pillow is gorgeous. Thanks for the great tutorial, I think I might try this. Your instructions make it seem doable, even for a sewing challenged person like me! Thanks again.

  10. Donnamae says

    I’ve always been intrigued by needle work…but I’ve never tempted a project before. But this…more unstructured piece…maybe a good place to start. You’ve certainly made it seem doable to the novice! 😉

    • Liz says

      Thanks Donnamae! It really is a very forgiving stitch and pattern, or lack there of, to work with… and once you get going, it’s quite relaxing. Hope you give it a shot! Liz

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