How to Embroider a Pistil Stitch Flower

Embroidered flowers always make lovely embellishments. And, just like real flowers, there are so many different types and variations available.In this tutorial, learn how to embroider a pistil stitch flower.

This unique flower is described as a “French knot on a stem,” and it’s shown here on Debbie Shepherd’s fun Kaleidiscope dress pattern from issue #71 of Australian Smocking & Embroidery. A rainbow of bright colors dances across the bodice of this versatile sleeveless dress, perfect for parties or a walk on the beach. The dazzling flowers are worked between the smocked bands and the neckline and armholes are finished with a simple white binding. Debbie varied the length of the petals to create the pistil stitch flowers.

Follow the step-by-step photo tutorial to create your own pistil stitch flowers:


  • Sample worked with a milliner’s needle and six strands of embroidery floss.
  • Embroider ten pistil stitches for each flower and complete with three French knots for the center.
  • Each flower is worked over 8 – 10 pleats.
  • Unpleated fabric has been used for photographic purposes.


pistil stitch

Steps 1-3

1. Secure the thread on the back of the fabric. Bring it to the front between two pleats.

2. Holding the thread firmly with the left thumb and forefinger, wrap the thread over the needle.

3.  Keeping the thread taut, wind the thread around the needle in an anti-clockwise direction.

pistil stitch

Steps 4-7

4. Still holding the thread taut, turn the needle towards the fabric. Place the tip of the needle onto the top of the pleat at the position for the end of the stitch.

5. Slide the wrap down the needle. Push the needle through the pleat, maintaining a firm tension on the thread.

6. Pull the thread through keeping the thumb over the knot. Completed first stitch.

7. Work the remaining nine petals following steps 1 – 6, varying the length of the straight stitches. Work three French knots in the centre. Completed flower.

Ready for more? Get the pattern for creating Debbie’s cute Kaleidiscope dress (sizes 2, 4 & 6 years) in issue #71 of Australian Smocking & Embroidery. In addition to this sweet pattern, this issue also includes six other garment patterns as well as a pattern for a picture-smocked handbag, technique tutorials and more.

Happy Sewing,

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