101101 GuidesDIYdiy projectsEmbroidery 101

French Dot Constellation Runner

by Jessica Marquez

Hi! Jessica of Miniature Rhino here. It’s been such a pleasure to create some projects for you for this Embroidery 101 series and hope you’ve found some inspiration or your next project.

I wanted to end on a stellar note with one of my favorite subjects and stitches, stars and french knots. Trying to invoke the Spring to finally arrive I made this table runner of stitched spring constellations. Stargazers will find Ursa Major and Minor, Cygnus, Draco, Virgo, Orion, Gemini and lots more. It’s definitely a statement piece that shines and shimmers with the addition of sequins held in place by french knots. One of the things I love about french knots is how three-dimensional they are. The little knots are raised, creating texture and here, stars that you can touch. This project might be large in scale, but the steps are super easy. You can also break up the pattern to make smaller pieces or work on a pre-made runner to keep things simple.

I really hope you’ve enjoyed this series! If you’re looking for more embroidery inspiration and how-to, check out my book, Stitched Gifts. Thanks y’all! –Jessica

Photography by Maxwell Tielman

The full how-to continues after the jump!


Constellation Template (download here)
(2) 15 x 72” pieces of linen, washed and ironed (or a pre-made runner)
Sewing pins
Saral transfer paper
Self-healing mat
DMC embroidery thread 3866
4mm Flat Silver Sequins
6mm Flat Silver Sequins
Size 7 embroidery needle
Large embroidery hoop, 12” hoop shown
Sewing thread


1. Enlarge template 600% for a 14 x 60 runner, or size to your desired dimensions. Tile print the template. You can do this is in Adobe: Print> Tile All Pages or Poster (depending on which version you have) > enlarge 600%> Overlap .075 with Cut Marks.

2. Trim pages to cut marks and tape template pages together. Trim edges and set aside.

3. Center pattern on fabric and pin the across the top to fabric. Layer a piece of transfer paper face down under the paper pattern and over the fabric. Begin tracing over the pattern with a pen. Apply a fair amount of pressure, but not enough to rip the paper. It helps to have a self-healing mat under your fabric for this step. Transfer section by section moving your transfer paper over as you complete a section. I used one piece of 12 x 15” transfer paper for the entire piece. Check your work as you go, lifting the papers to make sure your marks are coming through.

4. Stitch it! Hoop your fabric loosely and use the french knot for the star points and the backstitch or running stitch for the constellations. As you complete sections move your hoop around. You don’t want to apply too much pressure when hooping the fabric or you could disrupt the previous knots. Jump from stitch to stitch between points, but be careful not to pucker fabric by pulling too much.

The french knot is all about getting the right tension. Come up through the fabric, and hold the thread taut about 1 or 2 inches from the fabric with your non-dominant hand. With your other hand, wrap the thread around the needle once, twice, or three times, for a larger knot. Insert the needle back into the fabric close to, but not in, the original hole. Slide the knot down to meet the fabric and hold the tension as you pull the needle through the knot. Pull slowly trying to keep the tension on the thread all the way as you pull through.
(image of French Knot from Stitched Gifts)

I used 3 ply thread for the entire piece varying between french knots with no sequins and small and large sequins to help create dimension. Adding sequins to the french knots it super easy. After coming up through the fabric with the needle slide a sequin over the needle and down to the fabric. Make a french knot as usual the knot will hold the sequin in place.

5. To finish, without a backing: Fold over edges toward the back of the piece with a .25” seam. Press and then fold over again and pin in place. Sew a straight stitch with your sewing machine around the piece through the center of the fold.

To finish, with a backing: Layer the finished embroidered piece face down over another 15 x 72” linen piece. Pin in place and sew a .5” straight stitch with your sewing machine around the piece leaving a 5” opening. Snip away a small portion of the corner tops above the sewing. Pull the piece inside out, so that the embroidery is now showing. Iron the edges flat and hand sew the gap closed with sewing thread using the slip stitch.

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  • I have always wanted to embroider and this is great motivation…great job.
    Katie @ differentfromimagined.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Thanks ladies & thanks so very much D*S for letting me share these Embroidery 101 projects! Such an honor…

    Thanks Kristin, I’d love to see your piece when you get a chance to make it!

  • Lovely, simply lovely and so incredibly perfect for my summer table out on the porch. Thank you Jessica!

  • an astronomical thanks for sharing this! (had to pun like the first commenter)
    so beautiful!
    i would like to attempt it soon.

  • Wow, that is really beautiful. I’ve been wanting to give embroidery a try for a long time. This piece was the motivation I needed to get to it :)

  • I’m so in love with this runner! I’ve been wanting to stitch constellations for ages but this I have to do right away.

  • Where did you get the small change brass dish? I recently found the same one! It looks great with this piece! I love the idea of candlelight sparkling off the sequin stars!

  • Oh I love this — I have some navy linen in my stash that has been waiting for a home and this beautiful runner will be the perfect use for it! Thanks Jessica — I really like your book too.

  • Approximately how much embroidery thread did you need? I LOVE this table runner and am itching to try my hand at it ASAP!

  • Hi Melanie,

    love hearing that you’re going to make this! I split my thread to 3 ply and I think I used about two skeins of thread for the whole piece. Let me know how it goes!

    – jessica

  • Jessica you are my hero- So much beautiful attention to detail.
    I also love that in each tutorial there is at least one cat present.

  • Oh! What a wonderful idea… the creative modern design interpretation of seemingly old fashioned craft. I sure will have to give it a shot. :-)

  • What a beautiful pattern, can’t wait to make it. Can you elaborate on what Adobe application to use? I have Adobe Reader and Adobe Bridge on my Mac, but am unable to open the Constellation.jpg with either application.

  • Jennifer – I saved the picture to my desktop as a PDF (it initially saved itself as a JPEG) and opened it with adobe reader. From there everything worked beautifully!

    Jessica thank you so much for doing this tutorial, I am so excited to have this beautiful piece in my home!

  • This is a super tutorial and I can’t wait to start the project. It’s seriously stunning. I’m looking for a navy linen online. Has anyone been able to find a good linen for this??

  • absolutly lovely! rly like this and thanks for this inspiration.
    it’s a lot of work but i think this would be also a great idea on a skirt or dress

  • Where did you get the sequins? I cannot find them at any craft store that i’ve been to! I really would like to do this project!

  • Is there anyway you would sell a runner?
    Please contact me if that is do-able!

  • The table runner is gorgeous! But honestly I love your plates! Is that one copper?

  • Desde hace tiempo que quiero hacer una constelación, pero no me atreví. Al ver el tuyo, me ha dado inspiración y certeza de que sí puedo hacerlo. Gracias!

  • I was just looking for a simple template for constellations and stumbled across this, and I just had to say this is beautiful. Well done :)

  • I can’t print this pattern at home and my local print-shops can’t do it because of copyright considerations. My daughter asked for this runner, embroidery is one of the few things I can do better than her. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. KK

  • I can’t print this either; at least not the 8 page X 2 page print shown in the photo. It wants to print 42 pages, which isn’t right. Anyone have any advice?

  • I was actually hoping to create a template for Fall. I love Thanksgiving and my birthday always falls around it. Do you have a link to the reference for the night sky that helped you create your template? Thanks!

  • Hi,
    I can not download the template for this project. Is it no longer free, or do I need to do something special?

    Thanks for your assistance. It looks like a great embroidery project.


    Alice G

  • This is beautiful – I am definitely going to try it! I was wondering if the larger copper and wooden dishes were also from Etsy? Do you still have a link to them? Thanks! Helen

  • I’m having problems printing can you send it to me? Loriebeast@ aol.com. I’m excited. I’m going to turn it into a pillow case and a wall hanging. Thanks for sharing

  • I’m a guy who’s loves astronomy but doesn’t sew … came across your design for a table runner … it is beautiful. Perhaps advertise it in some way (maybe to make $$$) in a magazine, such as Astronomy or Sky & Telescope; they have world-wide circulation! Wish I could sew!

  • This is BRILLIANT!! Love, love, love this. I wonder if anyone offered to make one of these for Peter (Nov 4, 2017) for pay?

  • Hi! I love your design. I’m finally gathering supplies to make it, but am having a hard time locating the sequins. Can you tell me where you purchased yours?
    Thank you!
    Mary Anne

  • My sister just moved into a place with her boys and she has had this pinned for a while now. I would love to make it for her as a housewarming gift but am having trouble printing the template from Adobe. The template comes up as an image and I cant seem to make it into a PDF. Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.