The bullion knot can be used in so many different aspects of embroidery. It is seen with hand embroidery stitches, cutwork embroidery, and smocking. This tutorial will show you how to do bullion knots for beautiful flowers, leaves and buds, and delicate petals.
Bullion Knot (Bullion Stitch) Tutorial
What are Bullion Knots?
The bullion knot or bullion stitch is an embroidery technique where the thread is twisted around the needle numerous times to form a long, thick stitch. It is similar to the French knot, except it is longer in shape.
Other Names for Bullion Knots
Bullion knots have a variety of different names. Some of these names are flattering, like Porto Rico rose or coil stitch, while others are not quite so endearing, like grub knot and worm stitch. Whatever you decide to call this embroidery technique, it is a unique and creative filler for your embroidered article.
Materials Needed to Make a Bullion Knot
Like most embroidery stitches, the knot will need a needle and thread and the fabric or item to be embroidered. An embroidery hoop will keep your fabric taut as you stitch.
Best Needle for Bullion Stitch
The needle is the most essential item used in making a bullion knot. A milliner's needle (straw needle) is the recommended type because it has a long shaft and is slim and pointed.
The milliner's needle does not have tapering from the eye to the point, which is a crucial factor to consider. The milliner's needle is the same size along the length of the needle except for the point at the tip.
Best Threads to Use for Bullion Knots
The thickness of the bullion knot is determined by the number of threads used to make the stitch. Tiny, delicate, wispy roses can be made using one line, while more thread and thicker floss or even wool produce thicker, more chunky petals.
Shiny rayon thread will create glossy petals. As this thread has a twist, it must be wrapped in a clockwise fashion around the needle to make sure the ply of the thread does not separate.
How Many Strands of Floss for Bullion Knots
Generally speaking, the best number of strands for bullion knot stitch is three. This many floss threads will give you an average thickness. Experiment with other threads and make a sampler with notes to keep as a reference.
How to Make a Bullion Knot, Step by Step Instructions
Once you have mastered the basic bullion knot, you are ready to learn how to create different designs. The pattern will tell you what length of knot you need and the thickness and color.
It is a good idea to try this bullion embroidery stitch out on a test run first. Take a scrap of fabric and some needle and thread, and you are ready to follow these three easy steps.
Step 1 - Mark and Start
- Mark two points on your fabric as A and B. The distance between A and B is the size of the planned bullion knot.
- Knot your thread and bring the needle and thread up from the back of the fabric at point A.
Step 2 -Backstitch
- Insert the needle at point B and come back up into the fabric a tiny distance from point A, about one thread away.
- This could be called point C, but it must be very close to point A.
Step 3 - Wrap the Thread Around the Needle
- Leave the needle in the fabric, and you will be ready to wind the thread around the needle.
- Now wrap the thread around the needle going in the same direction like a coil.
The distance of the wound coil should be the same as the distance between A and B. The stitch will curl up too much if you make too many wraps and will not look so good. With practice, you will learn to keep an even tension on the coils so they are not too tight or too loose.
Step 4 - Pull Through
- Hold the wrapped threads with your finger and pull the needle out through the coil with your other finger and thumb.
- Keep pulling the needle upwards until the wraps or coil can lie on the fabric.
- Put the needle back into the fabric through the point marked B.
Now you have finished the bullion knot. If you have enough wraps, your bullion knot should like flat and straight along your line.
Bullion Knot Embroidery Projects
Here are 4 ways to use your bullion knots to make
- Bullion knot roses
- Bullion knot rosebuds
- Bullion knot strawberries
- Bullion knot starfish
1. How to Make Bullion Knot Roses
Bullion stitch roses are an all-time favorite for decorating many sewing projects. They look most delightful on a little girl's smocked dress.
- Choose three different shades of color.
- Starting with the darkest color, sew two bullion knots next to each other. This forms the center of the rose.
- Change to the middle shade and sew two longer bullion knots curving gently around the center. Imagine you are creating a layered brick wall and overlapping the knots accordingly. Create a round of these knots going around the center knots.
- With the lightest shade, work another round of bullion knots around the outside of the rose. Each knot will loop and sit on the outside of the previous bullion knot. The stitched knots in the last round may need to be quite long. In this case, take a single thread of floss and use couching down the rose petals so they sit exactly where you want them to.
2. How to Make Bullion Knot Rosebuds
Colors Needed: Red, light pink, medium pink, dark pink, green
- FIRST BULLION - Stitch a dark red bullion knot to form the center of the rosebud.
- SECOND BULLION - Stitch a dark pink bullion knot slightly longer and to the right of the first one.
- THIRD BULLION - Stitch a third to the right of the second knot, just slightly above it. It should wrap around and below the middle of the two center bullion knots.
- FOURTH BULLION - Stitch a knot in medium pink to the left of the first center knot. It begins slightly above the red bullion knot and wraps around below the third bullion knot.
- FIFTH BULLION - Stitch in medium pink to the left of the center of the fourth bullion knot. It comes down a bit lower and wraps down below slightly to the right of the previous bullion knot.
- SIXTH BULLION - Stitch in light pink on the right of the third bullion knot. It starts slightly lower than bullion knot number three and starts lower than bullion knot number three, wrapping around to below bullion knot number five.
- LEAVES - Once the petals are completed, a fly stitch in green finishes off the bud.
3. How to Make Bullion Knot Strawberries
Colors Needed: Red, black, green
- Thread your needle with red embroidery floss.
- Start at the top of the strawberry, and work your way down in random rows to the tip. Overlap the bullion knots in the center of the strawberry.
- On each strawberry stitch, yellow or black seed stitches.
- Finish off the strawberry with some embroidery leaves and create a stem. You can make the leaves at the top of the strawberry using bullion knots.
4. How to Make a Bullion Knot Starfish
Colors Needed: Any (It can be all one color or have different colored arms.)
- Start the bullion knot from the middle of the starfish and work outward.
- Sew long bullion knots that twist out from the center to create the starfish. The beauty of this design is the arms of the starfish do not have to be symmetrical.
How to Do a Bullion Knot - In Conclusion
Bullion knots combine with so many different plant and floral patterns. Add them into your lazy daisy stitch, use them as the fronds of a fern, or make little creepy crawlies to grace your garden design. The bullion knot stitch brings texture and creative touch to every design and always looks very professional.
- Milliners (Straw) Needle
- Embroidery Floss
- Insert the needle from underneath and come up at point A.
- Take a backstitch, inserting the needle at point B and coming up a fiber away from point A.
- Leaving the needle in the fabric, wrap the thread around the tip of the needle. The wraps should be the same length as the distance between A and B.
- Hold the wrapped coils with your finger and pull the needle out. Pull up so the coils lay flat on the fabric. Insert the needle back into the fabric at B.