• Embroidery KatBorchart 6f037

    Add some magic to your favorite photos by getting a little knotty.

    The often feared but oh-so-fabulous French knot is easier to ace than you might imagine. It’s also the perfect embroidery stitch to transform your fabric-printed photos into wall-ready works of art. Have a yearbook photo that needs a makeover? A group portrait you want to add some extra joy to? Thoughtful placement of a few French knots can highlight trim on an outfit, punctuate the center of a flower, or fill the air with confetti. En masse, they can create new hairdos, fill borders and backgrounds, or even reimagine the family photo album with a little magical realism.


    Photo image on fabric
    Embroidery hoop
    6-strand embroidery floss in your chosen colors
    Embroidery needle


    1. Select a favorite personal photograph or public domain image that can be used without permissions or restrictions, like from The New York Public Library (, check the “public domain materials” box) or the British Library ( Crisp, clear, black-and-white photographs work best, and will provide an eye-popping contrast with colorful embroidery floss.

    2. There are two ways to transfer an image to fabric. Using an inkjet printer, you can print your image yourself onto paper-backed cotton fabric sheets (Jacquard Cotton Inkjet Fabric Sheets, $18.99 for a pack of 10,

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    For a higher-quality result, upload your image to a fabric print-on-demand service, like (I recommend choosing “linen cotton canvas”), and wait for your fabric-printed photo to arrive. It’s best to scale your imagery to no smaller than 4" x 6".

    3. Before you begin, consider your overall composition by printing a practice photo on paper and sketching the general placement of your stitches.

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    If you’re concerned about “ruining” your image, know this: you can practice on scrap fabric until you feel more confident and any rogue knots can be pulled out, allowing you to start again!

    4. Load your fabric into your embroidery hoop so the surface is smooth and taut. Cut a 12" to 16" length of embroidery floss, and split off three strands. Knot one end and thread the other through your embroidery needle leaving a 2" tail. Determine the location of your first French knot and push your threaded needle through the fabric, entering from the underside and pulling the floss through until the knot catches on the back.

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    5. Set your hooped fabric down on your work surface. Hold your needle in your dominant hand and then take the 2" to 3" of the floss closest to your knot, hold it taut with your non-dominant hand, and don’t let go. There’s no need to pull hard, you just want to create a straight line of the floss with gentle tension.

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    6. Bring the needle towards your body and hold it parallel to the fabric; wrap the taut part of the floss around the needle three times.

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    Position the tip of the needle right next to where the floss initially came up through the surface and then pierce the fabric again—but don’t push the needle all of the way through.

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    Now gently pull the floss with your non-dominant hand and watch the wrapped knot slide down the needle to the surface of the fabric.

    7. Next, slowly push the needle through the fabric, releasing the floss and lifting the hoop up off your work surface, allowing you to pull the floss all the way through.

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    The end result is a neat, three-dimensional knot that sits on the surface of your fabric.

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    8. Create as many French knots as you’d like with your length of floss, but leave yourself at least 3" at the end. After completing your final French knot, separate the strands on the underside of the fabric, knot together, and trim.

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    By Robert Mahar
    Visit for more embroidery and diy tutorials.

    Top photo by Kat Borchart
    Crafting photos by Robert Mahar

    This article originally appeared in the Fall 2020 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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  • Terry Ellis of En Vogue Sitting Cross-Legged In Black And White

    As a founding member of the chart-topping ‘90s R&B girl group En Vogue, Terry Ellis and her three bandmates are recognized as being among the highest grossing American girl groups in history, selling over 20 million albums and racking up over 30 million streams. Their hits, “Hold On,” “Free Your Mind,” “Never Gonna Get It,” “Giving Him Something He Can Feel,” “Don’t Let Go,” and “Whatta Man featuring Salt-N-Pepa” are instant portals to whatever lives we were living in the 1990s and have all become karaoke classics. More recently, Ellis made headlines this past Juneteenth when she released a solo single, “Angry Black Woman,” a powerful protest anthem that articulates the pain and rage Americans feel after decades of seeing Black citizens being victimized by racist police officers. In this episode of BUST’s Poptarts podcast, Ellis talks about being an “Angry Black Woman,” reveals why Luther Vandross spent months torturing En Vogue in 1993, shares her passion for paper crafts, and more!

    Terry Ellis Showing Off Her Handmade Journal

    Listen to the Terry Ellis episode of BUST's Poptarts Podcast Here:

    More About BUST's Poptarts Podcast:

    BUST's Poptarts is a twice-monthly podcast hosted by magazine editors Emily Rems and Callie Watts that celebrates women in pop culture. The first half of each episode is devoted to a hot topic in entertainment, and in the second half, a segment called "Whatcha Watchin'?," Callie and Emily dig into all the shows, movies, books, music, videos, and podcasts they've enjoyed since the last episode, and either praise or pan each experience

    This podcast was produced for BUST by Logan del Fuego.

    Photo by Troy Jensen

    Hey! Did you know that the Poptarts podcast has a swell new Patreon program with fab thank-you gifts for members? Well it does! Give it a look-see at !

  • HOLIDAY Insta 45eca

    The BUST Holiday Craftacular—Brooklyn's longest-running indie craft fair is back this December—with over 150 vendors of the best in handmade goods, plus food, drinks, music, and more!

    At this year's fair, we'll be focusing on celebrating and promoting businesses owned by women and genderqueer persons, which will allow shoppers to support these businesses when they buy their holiday gifts. We still have some spots left, so apply before we fill up!

    In tandem we will be hosting The BUST School for Creative Living, featuring workshops, talks, classes, and panels on everything from feminism to embroidery to witchcraft, with special guests like Kara Lowentheil (Unf*ck your Brain) and many more to be announced soon!

    Please check back for more info.

     Entry to the BUST Craftacular is FREE.

    Date: December 7 and 8, 11am-7pm

    Location: Factory Floor, Industry City. 220 36th St, Brooklyn, NY 11232


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