Tips & Techniques

Foolproof Knotting Technique

This project will demonstrate both the foolproof knotting technique and the use of French coil. French coil gives an elegant appearance to any piece of jewelry. Many expensive strands of cultured pearls, for example, are finished using this method. Exercise caution when handling French coil. It is very fragile and can easily be stretched out of shape.

Remember that when knotting between beads, you should take into account the length added to the piece of jewelry by the knots. For example, if you start with 16-inches of beads and knot between each one, the finished necklace will measure approximately 18-inches.


Start with a piece of bead cord that is three times as long as the piece of jewelry you intend to make. Tie a knot at the end of your bead cord, leaving a 3-inch tail. This knot is merely intended to prevent the beads from falling off the end of the bead cord. String all but 3 beads onto the bead cord. Leave these 3 beads aside. You will need them later.


Secure the tail to a table top with a piece of tape. Maintain approximately 12-inches of free bead cord between the tail and the beads.


Slip one piece of French coil over the needle and, gently holding between your thumb and forefinger, slide it down to the last bead strung.


Pass the needle through one end of the clasp and then back through the last bead strung.


Gently pull all of the bead cord through the last bead strung. Make sure that the French coil remains on the inactive side of the bead cord, otherwise the coil will bunch up. The active side refers to the bead cord that is passing through the bead. The French coil should form an attractive loop around the jump ring.


Make an overhand knot after the first bead. An overhand knot should be very simple - it is the first knot one makes when tying a shoe. Pass the needle through the second bead. Push the second bead close to the first knot. Make a second overhand knot after the second bead. Continue knotting in this manner until you reach the last bead. Do not tie a knot after the last bead. Make your knots firm and consistent. A mixture of tight and loose knots will give an odd appearance to your finished piece. Also, remember to maintain free bead cord between the end of the bead cord that is secured to the table and the beads. This free bead cord will be slowly used up as you continue knotting.


As stated in Step 6, do not tie a knot after the last bead strung. Simply pass the needle through it. Then, string the last 3 beads onto the bead cord, and draw them down tight against the other beads. Attach the second piece of French coil and pass the bead cord through the other end of the clasp.


Pass the bead cord back through the last bead. Do not allow slack between the last several beads, but do not pull so tightly that the French coil bunches up.


Tie a circle knot between the last and second-to-last bead. Pass the needle through the second-to-last bead and tie another circle knot. Pass the needle through the third-to-last bead. Gather the leftover piece of bead cord and the bead cord attached to the needle together as if they were one piece of cord. Make a circle knot. Dab this last knot with clear nail polish or a clear-drying glue and let it dry. Use a small pair of wire cutters or a small pair of scissors to clip off the bead cored as close to the knot as possible.