I've almost completed my 'House of the Seven Gables' needlework pattern from 1940. A few of you were asking about needlework stitches and I thought I would show you how to make a French knot which is used extensively in this pattern.
It is used for these Larkspur flowers:
And as the center in these Daisies:
First you will need to determine how many strands of thread to have in the needle. The patterns from this time period are very specific. I am to use six strands of thread for the French knots. This is the standard number of strands in embroidery thread:
I am really happy that all the thread came with the pattern! So if you use all six strands then just put the end of the thread (as pictured above) through your needle. If it says to use only three or four strands then you'll need to separate off two strands of the thread. Hope that makes sense.
Your threaded needle will have the longer thread and a short tail (just keep enough of a tail to work comfortably without fear of your needle losing the thread!):
Then you can either knot the end of your thread or leave it loose and just not pull it all the way through the fabric (whichever way you prefer).
Step 1: Start from back to front. Bring the needle through the mark on the pattern for the French knot:
Step 2: Bring the thread all the way through the fabric:
Step 3: Hold the thread taut with your left hand and bring the needle up against the thread:
Step 4: Wrap the thread around the needle (from top to bottom to back to front) the number of times indicated on the pattern. I've wrapped it twice around the needle:
Step 6: Continue to the hold the thread you wrapped around the needle with your left hand as you pull the needle through the fabric. You'll need to pull a bit tougher at the beginning as you are pulling through all the thread (it will be easier once the tail goes through the fabric). You can hold the thread less taut when you first pull the thread through the fabric as that will make it easier to get all the threads through the knot and you can then hold it more taut as you get closer to pulling all the thread through. In this photo the needle has just gone through the fabric and you can still see the tail thread on the right:
Now the tail has gone through and it is just a small amount left to pull through:
Et viola! Once you've pulled all the thread through, you should have a French knot:
You can change the size of the knot by the number of times you wrap it around the needle. The orange knots in the picture above were wrapped twice around the needle. My pattern says to wrap the thread once around the needle which gives a smaller knot (the right one below):
I'm not using an embroidery hoop in these photos (sometimes I use them, sometimes I don't). Overall, they are very helpful for keeping the fabric taut as you embroider but you can also embroider without one.
Hope that was helpful--it's definitely less daunting then it appears and it's fairly easy to correct mistakes (just cut the thread and pull it back through and start over!) This is actually my first time making French knots--so if you have other techniques, please share!
I'm super excited that I'm almost finished! I am going to wrap it up as a family present for Christmas (my family is doing the pick a number and choose a gift thing this year!)
What about you? Do you embroider? Have you ever wanted to try some of the vintage needlework patterns?