Bullion knots are one of the most versatile stitches in the whole Hand embroidery stitches repertoire. They are used in almost all types of embroidery techniques – be it cutwork, Brazilian embroidery, lacework, wool to wool embroidery. It is a staple decoration on smocking. You can see bullion roses on all the kids’ finely made dresses. In all your embroidery work, there are always places where you can use a bullion knot – as leaves, as buds, making petals for flower stitch embroidery, as grass, eyes for babies, as the handle of a cup and many more.
Checkout the other knot stitches ( about 8 of them) here.
In this article I will cover:
Which needle is used to make bullion knots ?
You need a long needle with a small eye. Many experts swear by the milliner needle, which fits this description. Milliner needle has a very small eye, making it easy for the knot to slip out of it easily. But any needle with a relatively small eye ( not much wider than the diameter of the needle) would do.
There are people who make 100s of coils on these needles – for those long long bullion knots you need a long needle – you will progress to that soon.
How many strands of thread should I use for making bullion knot ?
There is no guideline as such. But 3 strands is ideal for me for small flowers. You can thread 6 strands for thicker bullions. If you are using a Perle cotton thread or rayon floss, use just that one strand.
How to make a Bullion Knot Stitch?
You need to thread three strands of thread on the needle . Knot the thread at the end . Come up from the back of the fabric to the face of the fabric ( A in the picture)
Put your needle down at B a small distance from A (this depends on the length of bullion knot you want) and come back up again at C (about one thread near A).
You will now be near the thread (near A where you first came up). Do not pull the needle through, leave it in the fabric as shown.
Wind the thread around the needle many times. You should guesstimate how much would fill the area between A & B. Too many and your bullion stitch will end up curled.
If you are using a glossy Rayon thread with an Z-twist the thread must be wrapped clockwise around the needle; otherwise, the thread plies may separate.
Gently bring up the needle through the coils.
Pull the needle up and then bring down the coils gently with your hand till the bullion is correctly formed in the end
Put down the needle at B to secure the bullion knot. At all times, make sure that the coils are even. If not, use your hands to smooth them and stack them properly on the thread so that they all fall neatly.
Sometimes it may seem as if you have made a mess. But the magic of bullion knots is that, however messy it may seem , it is salvageable to a beautiful bullion knot with the stroke of your hands and gentle pulls.
3 Easy Bullion stitch embroidery designs
Drawing and working on designs that use bullion stitches are very easy. You just need to draw a general outline, and the stitch will fill it nicely with its own contours, twists and turns, and the three-dimensional effect. I have here three simple, easy-to-make designs which are made this way.
1. Bullion stitch rose embroidery design.
Make the middle of the flower with french knots or two bullions in a light color.
Start making small bullion knots around the center in a light color (darker than the middle), overlapping the previous one slightly.
After two or three layers , change the colour to a darker shade
Make small leaves on either side with granitos stitch.
2. Bullion Stitch 8 petal Flower
Again the outline is drawn
Center of the design is filled with 10-12 french knots
Make Bullion Knot coils resembling the petals all around the center, two of them touching at the tip
You can fill the leaf with satin stitch. With satin stitch, unless you are very, very careful, the edges need to be sorted out. An outline of the back stitch or split stitch would do very well.
3. Bullion Knot Wildflowers
Make three bullion knots in white on the top of the flower drawing.
Surround them with more knots in a different colour. Two or more layers.
And then more.
Fill the leaves with blanket stitches.
Bullion knots are also known as coil stitch and caterpillar stitch for obvious reasons. The best thing about the very versatile bullion knot stitch is that it is very easy to make, though it looks anything like that to a beginner. Take heart and practice.