You know the trick about snugging them up, right? Because I hated them too until I figured that one out.
Come out of the fabric where you want the knot. Wrap the thread around the needle like usual. Then stick the tip of the needle back into the fabric, but DON'T PULL IT THROUGH YET. Take hold of the long end of the thread and pull to take up the slack between the loops around the needle and the fabric. The french knot coil should now be snug right up against the fabric, still wrapped around the needle. NOW take the needle the rest of the way through the fabric. It makes everything easier.
Aw, man. I'm sorry. I love them! I've used them as a major design element in several dance costumes. Maybe just with practice it'll get better? And yes yes yes on rabid_bookwyrm's advice. Getting them snug is crucial.