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How to stitch a French knot burst hoop

I started stitching French knot burst hoops years ago as a fun excuse to practice French knots and play around with different color combinations. In today's post, I'll teach you how to make one yourself!

Photo of two colorful embroidery hoops with French knots in a "bursting" pattern.
A pair of finished French knot burst hoops!

This tutorial includes photo and written instructions; if a video tutorial is easier for you to follow, you can find one at the end of this post (feel free to jump ahead!).

Before getting started with this project, you may want to review my post on how to stitch a French knot, and/or my post about creating French knot cluster flowers (which will help you create the French knots in the center of our bust hoop).

Step 1: Choose your colors!

If you're following along with this tutorial, you'll want to choose a total of three colors for this project. You can choose any three colors you like; I chose to go with three shades of blue in DMC 993 (my lightest color), 992 (medium), and 991 (darkest).

Step 2: Draw a series of circles as guidelines.

I'm going to frame my final project in a three inch hoop, but I'll be stitching in a four inch hoop. First, I'll trace the inside of my three inch hoop onto my fabric. This way, I know the final design will fit inside my smaller hoop. If you're stitching in the hoop that will serve as your final frame, you can skip this portion of the guideline-drawing process.

For this demonstration, I'm using a blue water-erasable fabric pen to mark my guidelines. Feel free to use whatever transfer method works best for your particular fabric, so long as the marks can be removed once you're finished stitching.

Because I'm using three colors for this project, I need to draw three circles radiating out from one point on the hoop. You can use coins or other circular objects as stencils, or an actual circular stencil (which you can find in most craft stores).

You can draw this first circle directly in the middle of your hoop, or make it a bit off-centered like what I've done here.

These circles don't have to be perfect, as we're just using them as rough guidelines for where to place our different colors of French knots.

Step 3: Filling in your first circle.

I start by filling in my first circle with French knots using my darkest shade of blue. This first circle should be completely filled in with French knots.