Colonial Knot Embroidery Tutorial

A colonial knot stitch is a simple hand embroidery stitch that creates a cute little bump.  The stitch is similar to the French knot in appearance but it is worked a bit differently.  

Needlework Stitches - Colonial Knot Tutorial - fb

Some people find doing French knots difficult.  I am the exception - I enjoy wrapping the thread around the needle to make a pretty bobble on the fabric.  But recently I decided to try the Colonial knot and discovered it to be quicker and easier to work than the French knot.  Let me tell you about and teach you how to make the Colonial knot.

The colonial knot is a colonial technique attributed to the early women settlers.  With limited supplies, these women used what they had to create a homey atmosphere for their family - unbleached muslin, a needle and thick candle wick cotton were all that was necessary.   

Even though this candle wick cotton was available, it was costly and in limited supply.  Because of this, the hand embroidery technique called candlewicking emerged that used colonial knots sewn closely together to create outlines. 

Learn how to make the colonial knot by watching our video or keep reading this post for a photo tutorial with step-by-step instructions.

When to use the colonial knot?

  • French Knot Substitute
  • Candlewicking Embroidery
  • Secure Sequins to  Project
  • Single Bumps for Flower Centers
  • Background Filler Stitch

Every embroiderer should know a variety of stitches.  Our hand embroidery stitch guide has tutorials for newbie and skilled embroiderer.  

COMPLETE VIDEO TUTORIAL AVAILABLE! The video below is a preview with no audio, to watch the whole video tutorial, click the link Colonial Knot Embroidery Tutorial to watch in Youtube.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. We make a small commission on sales through the affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. Thank you in advance for your purchase and your support! Please see our full Affiliate Statement for more information.

Needlework Colonial Knot More Knots

What type of thread can be used?

  • Embroidery Floss
  • Pearl Cotton
  • Yarn

what supplies are needed?

  • Fabric
  • Thread or Yarn
  • Embroidery Hoop
  • Embroidery Needle or Tapestry
  • Scissor

Needlework Colonial Knot Finished2

how to make a colonial knot:

Our video tutorial also shows how to make this stitch if you are left-handed.

fabric and needle prep

Place the fabric in the embroidery hoop and stretch so there are no wrinkles.  Thread a needle.  

What is the best type of needle to use for Colonial Knots?

The needle should match the fabric and thread thickness.  However, I recommend using a sharp (not blunt) needle with a narrow eye.  The eye of the needle should be about the same size as the shaft of the needle.  This type of needle will help the thread pull through the knot more easily.

Needlework Colonial Knot Bring Thread To TopBring the threaded needle up from the back of the fabric where you want the place the Colonial knot.

needle position

Needlework Colonial Knot Needle Under ThreadHold the thread downward with your left hand.  With the needle parallel to your thread, bring the needle to the left side of the thread.

slide needle

Needlework Colonial Knot Wrap Thread Around needleSlide the needle under the thread toward the right.  The thread will now lie over and under the needle.

figure 8

Needlework Colonial Knot Wrap Thread in figure 8Then, wrap the working end of the thread up over the needle and then under the needle creating a figure 8 shape.

tighten knot

Needlework Colonial Knot Pull tightPull the working end of the thread to tighten the knot around the needle and slide the knot down the needle close to the tip.

leave a space

Needlework Colonial Knot Insert Needle Into FabricInsert the point of the needle into the fabric next to the place where it first emerged (NOT IN THE SAME HOLE).

IMPORTANT! Inserting the needle in the same hole is one of the biggest mistakes made when creating the French and Colonial knots.  This could cause the knot to pull to the back of the fabric.


Needlework Colonial Knot Push Needle ThroughAs you insert the needle into the fabric, keep the working thread and knot taut by holding the working thread with your thumb on the fabric surface and pointer finger underneath the fabric about a 1/2" to the left of where the needle is being inserted.

holding working thread

Needlework Colonial Knot Pull Thread Through KnotKeep gentle tension on the working thread as you pull the needle and thread through the knot.  Keep tension on the working thread until the last possible moment. 

Needlework Colonial Knot Pull Thread Tight

finished knot

Needlework Colonial Knot Finished2Once all the thread is through the knot, Voila, the colonial knot is finished.

How to make Bigger Colonial Knots?

If you want your Colonial knot larger, you can vary the size by using more strands of floss or thicker thread.

Needlework Colonial Knot RowAre you interest in trying candlewicking?  Check out our free candlewicking patterns and projects page.

Five Advantages of Colonial Knot vs French Knot?

  1.  Colonial Knot is more rounded
  2.  It stands higher off the fabric
  3.  Is sturdier and more compact
  4. Less likely to come undone
  5. Holds up to heavy use and washing

I hope you try the Colonial knot.   If you have any questions, please ask and we'll answer them in the contact us section. 

Needlework Colonial Knot More Knots With Needle

Happy Stitching!
Chris and Annette


If you have any questions about this project, contact us through the YouTube Video comments or our Contact Us page. We respond to questions in e-mails and YouTube comments regularly.


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