• 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,

    a step 8a70d

    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.

    b step 372f4

    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.

    c step 54223

    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.

    d step 2481a

    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.

    e step 9abc7

    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.

    f step 787b3

    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.

    g step 5d90b

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

    h step 6ae2c

    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.

    i step f958d

    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!

    More from BUST

    How To Make Your Own Hand Sanitizer

    How To Build A Sustainable Closet

    Embrace The Fringe With This Shady DIY Lamp Décor

  • large bal beyonce announces world tour including baltimore date in june 20160207 eac50

    Need more feminine rage and lovely outerwear in your Instagram feed? Look no further.

    BUST friend and contributor Sara Benincasa has created our favorite new Instagram account of the week, @excellentcoatsonirritatedwomen. At only five days old, the account already has over 6,000 followers and shows no signs of slowing growth. The pull? Fierce women and fierce coats.

    The account began with a picture of Nancy Pelosi. "Pelosi's Max Mara coat became my burnt sienna North Star the other day. It was great to see Democratic leadership step up and throw Trump's crap right back in his face," Benincasa told BUST. "I tweeted that it was a great day for excellent coats on irritated women, and some folks suggested it should be a motto or a website or something. I decided it should be an Instagram account."

    nancypelosicoat 7fdd9


    Other current political figures can be found on the page, as well as political figures from yesteryear. Women from the arts also grace the page, and so you can scroll from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to Rosa Parks, Beyoncé to Bette Davis. Little-known male-passing pirate Mary Read is also featured with drawings from the 18th century.

    Benincasa's favorite coat, though, is the cloth coat donned by Dolores Huerta. "In that photo, she's doing extraordinary work on behalf of marginalized people who work their asses off, and this is a woman who still works her ass off today. I admire her so much, so of course that's influencing her decision," Benincasa said. "But it just looks like the right coat for the job."

    Check out a just a few from Benincasa’s growing collection below.

    ocasiocoats 9e697

    rosaparkscoat d7f3d

    partoncoats e1a7b

    angeladaviscoats 95a68

    Benincasa seeks out submissions over Instagram DM or email (

    All photos from ExcellentCoatsOnIrritatedWomen on Instagram.

    Published December 17, 2018

    By Casey Seline and Lydia Wang

    More from BUST

    13 Sweaters That Will Make You Feel Like You're Back In The Womb This Winter

    Embrace Fall Colors With These Ten '70s-Inspired Accessories

    8 Self-Care Tips To Get You Through The Holidays

  • judith 04 1673d

    Seattle-based artist Natalie Krick’s latest message? Sexuality has no age.

    The Nude Grandmothers project, a series of nude portraits of older women, began as a collaboration between Krick and photo editor Amanda Gorence. “The impetus was to create a celebratory and liberating piece that explores female sensuality later in life, and how it evolves,” Gorence says of the series. “Women are often ‘aged out’ of conversations around sexuality at a certain point. We wanted to demystify that idea.”

    judith 02 e259f

    Krick’s art often challenges perceptions of beauty, femininity, and nudity. The photographer, whose art has been featured everywhere from The New Yorker to Marie Claire South Africa to The Huffington Post, draws a lot of inspiration from fashion media and pin-ups, but she enjoys “playing with these cliches of beauty and sexuality,” she tells BUST. 

    “I felt conflicted when I looked at photographs of women in mainstream culture,” Krick says. “I started to think about how these photographs were constructed. How is the body styled and posed to appear female and sexual? How are the photographs retouched to appear beautiful?”

    The Nude Grandmothers series highlights three women, posed coquettishly against bright, colorful backgrounds. “I was telling a friend about finding a box of pictures of me at my mom’s that were taken over the span of my adult life, and I was  struck by how beautiful I was in all of my different stages of life—and how I never knew or felt it,” says Alaina, one of the models. “The idea [of the project] appealed to me on so many levels, not just as an opportunity to celebrate myself and work on loving my body, but also make a statement about aging, beauty, and sensuality.”

    alania 01 3cf92

    The other models, though, were a little more hesitant. “At first I thought the project was rather frivolous,” Judith, another subject, tells BUST. “But my 48-year-old daughter said that Americans have a very puritanical and weird attitude toward nudity, and that she felt it was very important that I do the shoot, both for her and for my granddaughter. My husband tried to talk me out of it, which had the effect of talking me into it. His reasons infuriated me, frankly.”

    The third model, who wished to remain anonymous, says, “I was definitely hesitant…[but] it felt good to just go for it. It was a lovely experience. I was made very comfortable and felt empowered at the end for doing something I never in a million years thought I would do.” 

    debie 05 00a66

    Krick says that the project might be a continued series. You can check it all out for yourself here, and find more of the artist’s work, including information on her book Natural Deceptions, on her website.

    alania 03 f0240

    debie 02 d0ee7

    judith 01 9bda3

    alania 06 b3da2

    debie 04 9652f

    judith 03 6bed3

    All photos by Natalie Krick

    More from BUST

    Writing the Body And Missing The Point: Mara Altman’s "Gross Anatomy"

    Feminist Art Parade, Nevertheless We Vote, Comes To New York: BUST Interview

    This 90-Year-Old Photographer Is An Avante-Garde Instagram Queen