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Pistil stitch icon
Pistil stitch

  • French knot on stalks stitch
  • Long-armed French knot
Pistil stitch main image

​Pistil stitch consists of a straight stitch ending in a French knot (hence it’s alternate name of long-armed French knot).

The stitch is named for the part of a flower which sits in the very centre of the stamens and anthers and which it closely resembles.  The origins of the stitch are obscure but predate the Arts and Crafts era as it is listed as one of the range of historic stitches used by the embroiderers at Morris and Co (William Morris’s company).

Pistil stitch is generously sponsored by Elizabeth Pettifer


Wrap twice for a larger knot.


Bring the needle up through the fabric.


Hold the needle near to where the thread emerges, then take the thread around the needle once or twice.


Place the needle part way into the fabric, a short distance from where the thread emerges.


Holding the needle in place, draw the spiral down to the fabric surface.


Keeping the thread taut, draw the needle and thread through the fabric to complete the pistil.

Pistil stitch

Structure of stitch

Identifying Pistil stitch

A straight stitch leading and connected to a French knot.


  • Various Authors, The Royal School of Needlework Book of Embroidery (2018) , p.66
  • Jacqui McDonald, RSN Essential Stitch Guides: Crewelwork (2010)
  • Ellen L. Ramsay. (2018) 'Review: May Morris: Arts and Crafts Designer', Labour / Le Travail pp.290-2. Available at: