Punch Needle Instructions for beginners

The trend in embroidery: Punch needle. This craft is easy to learn. It gives quick results and makes stunning textile art. In this tutorial we explain the basics you need to know about Punch Needle. We share our recommendations for punch needle materials. You will also find step by step guidance on how to punch needle for beginners. Learn how to punch needle with embroidery floss, yarn or wool. Finally, our Frequent Asked Questions provide an answer for most common issues when punch needling.

Feel free to contact us if you still have questions after reading these Punch needle tutorial for beginners.

Punch needles

Punch Needle Instructions for beginners

The trend in embroidery: Punch needle. This craft is easy to learn. It gives quick results and makes stunning textile art. In this tutorial we explain the basics you need to know about Punch Needle. We share our recommendations for punch needle materials. You will also find step by step guidance on how to punch needle for beginners. Learn how to punch needle with embroidery floss, yarn or wool. Finally, our Frequent Asked Questions provide an answer for most common issues when punch needling.

Feel free to contact us if you still have questions after reading these Punch needle tutorial for beginners.

Punch needle instructions tutorial for beginners

What materials do I need for my punch needle project?

1. Embroidery Punch Needle Tool

There is a great variety of punch needles available. In our shop we sell the following types:

The Clover Embroidery Stitching Tool

punch needle clover embroidery stitching tool

This punch needle has a selection of different sized refill needles, and is the best quality needle when you want to work with embroidery floss or finer yarn. The starter kit comes with a needle for 3 strands of embroidery floss. Depending on the thickness of the needle you can stitch with 1 strand of embroidery floss, 3 strands of embroidery floss, 6 strands of embroidery floss, or with cotton yarn up to 3 mm thick.

This needle set is the perfect choice if you like  to play with different thickness of threads.

This needle is smaller and puts less pressure on your fabric then the wooden punch needle. You can use it with a regular embroidery hoop when you wind bias band around the inner ring of your hoop.

The 3 Size Punch Needle Set

3 Size punch needle set

This punch needle set  comes with 3 different punch needles. So you can combine embroidery floss with medium fine wool like our lanita wool. This punch needle is the budget sister of the clover punch needles. It is less sharp than the clover punch needle. The fine and middle sized needle work great with our GOTS certified punch needle canvas. And for the biggest refill we recommend our white jute punch fabric

The wooden adjustable punch needle

This punch needle works with cotton or wool yarns up to 3,8 mm thick. The needle is adjustable in 6 different lenght positions. So you can easily play with how high you want your front side loops to be, varying from 2 – 5 cm.

As you can adjust the needle at predefined lenght, this needle is the best choice if you like to play with different heights of loops on the front side of your work.

Read more specific advise in this blog explaining how to use the wooden adjustable punch needle

Adjustable wooden punch needle

2. Embroidery Hoop or Frame

We like working with a 5 or 6 inch hoop, but you can also choose to go for a larger hoop instead. It is easier to keep your fabric tight in a smaller hoop.  When uing the wooden embroidery hoop we recommend to use a rug making frame with gripper strips or to fix your fabric to a wooden canvas frame using a staple gun.

Embroidery hoops

3. Embroidery Floss or Yarn

Punch Needling can be done with cotton or wool floss or yarn suitable for knitting or crochet. Depending on the needle thickness, you have to use a different thickness of thread.

With the Clover Needle you can use DMC embroidery floss. For the thickest refill needle you can use thread or ribbon up to 3mm thick. We love to use BC Semilla organic wool.

With the wooden adjustable punch needle, you can use thicker cotton or wool threads up to 4-5 mm thick. We use both the BC semilla and BC Semilla Grosso organic wool for punching with this needle.

Embroidery Floss

4. Punch Needle Fabric

Each punch needle has a different thickness, and therefor it is important to match it with the right punch needle fabric. We tested over 50 different fabrics to find the best match for each punch needle. If a fabric is too open woven for your punch needle your loops will pop out easily. And if your fabric is too tight for your punch needle you will have to punch very hard resulting in damaging your hand, and/ or the fabric. So a good combi is the best way to go.

We are so happy that we finally are able to present you our collection of ecological punch needle fabrics:

For the wooden adjustable punch needle we advise to punch on the ecological jute fabrics . You can also use the coloured jute fabrics for the biggest refill needle of the 3 size punch needle set.

For the 3 size punch needle set we recommend our Punch Needle Linen Fabric. This is a wonderful quality material, that’s soft for your hands and very durable. It’s ecological and made in Europe.

For the clover punch needles we advise our GOTS certified ecological punch canvas. You can also use this fabric with the 2 finest punch needles from the 3 size punch needle set.

5. Punch Needle Pattern

For beginners we recommend to start with simple shapes. Round or Geometric shapes are the easiest to start with. You can draw your own designs directly onto the fabric, or transfer one of our punch needle designs. Once you get the hang of it you can use a design with more details.

Get this free transfer pattern at our blog

6. Tracing Pencil

With Punch Needling you trace your pattern onto your fabric. When working on canvas, it is best to use a pencil or marker that can be erased with water when needed. In our shop you will find this calcium pencils in blue and white.

When working on jute you will cover all the jute with your loops, so you can use a regular maker to draw your design.

Calcium Pencil

7. Punch Needle Threader

To get your floss or thread correctly in the punch needle, these special threaders are a must have.

You find the punch needle threader here in our shop

Punch Needle Threader

8. Embroidery scissors

You’ll use the embroidery scissors to cut of all your threads.

We have a few pretty scissors in our shop

Stork Embroidery Scissors

Optional: Bias band or Fabric Straps

When using an embroidery hoop as frame while punching, we recommend that you use bias band or fabric scraps to keep your fabric tight. You can read here how to prepare your hoop

Fabric Scraps

Optional: Wool Unwinder

To make beautiful looking loops, it is crucial that your thread flows freely through your needle. Otherwise your loops might get loose as you stitch. As you punch, keep an eye to your thread and make sure it’s not tight up.

Especially when working with thicker yarn, a Wool Unwinder is a handy tool to enable your ball to easily unwind as you make your stitches.

Wool Unwinder

How to trace a punch needle pattern to your fabric?

Below steps explain how you can transfer a punch needle pattern to your punch fabric. We used a washable calcium pencil to transfer the fabric. You can download the free sample pattern here.

Alternativly you can also use a sheet of carbon paper to transfer your pattern. Lay the carbon paper in between your fabric and the pattern. Now trace your pattern with a pencil. The carbon paper will now leave a copy of the pattern on your fabric. As you can not wash away the lines, you need to ensure you’ll cover them with your stitches.

Step 1

how to transfer a punch needle pattern to punch fabric

Tape your pattern on your light box or window. We used Washi Tape, which removes easily :-).

Step 2

Center your punch needle fabric on top of the pattern and tape it to your window.

Step 3

how to transfer a punch needle pattern to punch fabric 3

Trace the pattern with your tracing pen or calcium pencil. Use a contrasting color to your fabric.

How to prepare your embroidery hoop for punch needle?

To get the neatest result for your punch needle project, is it important that your fabric is very tight in your hoop. Drum tight. It is easier to get your fabric tight in a smaller embroidery hoop. We like working with a 5 inch hoop, but you can also choose to go for a 4 inch or 6 inch hoop instead. If you want to make a bigger project, you can choose to move the hoop around your fabric as you continue punching. For really big projects you can also choose to fix your fabric to a wooden canvas frame using a staple gun.

Below steps explain how to ensure your fabric is drum tight in your hoop.

Step 1

Prepare embroidery hoop for punch needle instructions

Take a few meter (yards) of bias band or fabric straps of about 2 cm wide (3/4 inch).  Wrap this around the inner ring of your embroidery hoop.

Step 2

Prepare embroidery hoop for punch needle instructions 2

Continue until you have your entire hoop covered.

Step 3

Prepare embroidery hoop for punch needle instructions 3

Now lay your punch fabric on top of the inner embroidery hoop. Put the outer ring of your embroidery hoop on top of the punch fabric.

Step 4

Prepare embroidery hoop for punch needle instructions 4

Screw drum tight using the brass screw. You can use a screw driver to make it extra tight.

How to thread a punch needle?

To get your yarn or floss into your punch needle, a threading tool is essential. Below steps explain how to use this threading tool to get your yarn flowing smoothly through your punch needle.

Step 1

how to thread your punch needle 1

Put your needle threader in the long end of your needle. Enter your needle from the sharp end of your needle, the side that you will poke into your punch fabric.

Step 2

Pull your thread through the metalic threader that comes out at the backside of your punch needle

Step 3

how to thread a punch needle 3

Pull your needle threader from the front side of the punch needle all the way through your needle. Your yarn is no threaded through the large end of your needle as shown on the picture.

Step 4

how to thread a punch needle 4

You will now need to thread your yarn through the opening in the needle (the needle hole). First bring your needle threader through the needle hole and put your yarn in between the metalic threads of your threader.

Step 5

how to thread a punch needle 5

Pull the needle threader. This will make your thread come through the opening. Be carefull, the threader can easily break if your yarn is too thick for your needle.

Step 6

how to thread a punch needle 6

Voila! This is how your threaded needle looks like.

How to Punch Needle Step by Step instructions

After preparing your frame and fabric you are ready to start with the real work: Punch Needling! Yeah! Below you will find step by step instructions to get you started.

We recommend that you first punch the outlines of the area you want to stitch with this color, and then fill it going spirally towards the middle. To ensure your loops on the backside are nicely full, follow the contour of the previous row. Continue punching until the area is full.

Step 1

how to punch needle for beginners

Push the punchneedle straight down into the fabric, until it stops. It is important that the needle hole, the part where your thread comes out, is on the backside of your needle as you move forward.

Step 2

how to punch needle instructions

Bring the needle back up slowly, stopping as soon as the tip is clear of the surface of the fabric. You should not llift the needle up too high because this will pull out the loop. Rather, slide the needle tip close to the fabric by approximately the width of the needle.

Step 3

how to punch needle embroidery

Now repeat – punch the needle into the fabric again, lift it to the surface, slide it across the surface. That’s all there is to the basic punch stitch!

When you reach a corner, stop with the needle in the down position, rotate the hoop, and then continue to punch along the new line. This means you’ll always be punching right to left (left-handers: left to right).

Step 4

how to finish you punch needle

Whenever you finish with a thread, push your needle to the loopy side of your fabric. Cut of your thread at the same height as your loops, and pull out your needle.

Step 5

Once you finish with a color, clean up your starting point thread end. You can use a embroidery needle to bring your thread end to the backside.

When your thread end is too short for an embroidery needle, do it manually. Hold the thread end in one hand and gently pull the thread while looking at the loopy side of your fabric to see which loop your thread is connected to.  Gently pull the loop to bring the thread end to the backside of your fabric. Now cut of the thread end at the same height as you other loops.

Step 6

how to clean up your punch needle project

Clean up the loopy side of your punch needle project. Cut of any long threads at the height of your loops.

Lines may not appear to be straight. That is completly normal! Carefully push and pull your loops to where they belong. We find it handy to use a toothstick.

How to Finish your punch needle project

If you want to frame your piece an embroidery hoop, you can use the same technique as we do when framing our finished cross stitch projects. You can find the tutorial here.

You can also turn your punch needle project into a cushion cover or bag. If you want to show the loopy side of your punch needle project, we recommend that you use adhesive on the backside of your fabric (the flat side of your fabric).

FAQ Help for common Punch Needle issues

What is the front or backside of a punch needle embroidery project?2019-04-08T18:35:23+01:00

What is the front or backside of a punch needle embroidery project?

Punch Needle Embroidery is a hand tufting technique that is traditionally used to make rugs. As such the flat side of your work is considered the backside of your work, and the loopy side the good side. But in modern punch needle embroidery you can see artists using both the flat and the loopy side as the front side of their work, and they may actually mix up punching from both sides of the fabric to create depth. The flat side is typically better if you want to show clear lines. But the softness of the loopy side surely has an attraction as well.

Punch Needle Sample Pink

In this sample you can see the yellow flowers are punched from the backside, while the rest of the flower is punched from the front side.

 

Why do my punch needle loops get loose and how can I fix it?2019-04-08T18:43:17+01:00

Why do my punch needle loops get loose and how can I fix it?

The most common issue with punch needling is that your punch needle loops are pulling out from the fabric.

When punch needling, you can do the following check to avoid getting loose loops:

  1. Are you using the right fabric? It is really important that your fabric matches your punch needle. Check this section to see our GOTS certified ecological punch needle fabric for finer punch needles, including all clover punch needles. Check this section for fabrics that suit the wooden adjustable punch needle .
  2. Can your yarn flow freely? When your yarn or thread is blocked or restricted your yarn will not create equal loops. The thickness of your yarn should also match the needle you are using.
  3. Ensure you punch the full lenght of your needle through the fabric (the metal part of your punch needle tool).
  4. Is your fabric tight in your hoop? It should be as tight as a drum. This is easier in a smaller hoop. Alternativly staple your fabric to a wooden quadrant frame.
  5. Is your needle threaded correctly?
  6. Are you holding your needle correctly? The opening where the thread leaves should be on the backside of your needle as you punch through your fabric. If you are in a corner, punch your needle all the way through and then move your embroidery hoop. Bring your needle up and continue stitching. And don’t lift your needle to high as you are punching, rather drag it over your fabric

In this blog you will find even more tips and tricks to answer this question

My punch needle project curls once I am finished. What can I do?2018-11-27T10:40:54+01:00

When your punches are too close to eachother, your punch needle work starts to curl when you take it out of your frame.

You can fix this by steaming your project. Please note: you should NOT IRON your design, as this will permanently flatten your loops. Pin your project to a thin cloth towel with the loop side against the towel. Hold your iron about 1 cm (1/2 inch) above your project. Use the steam of your iron to damp your project. Allow the steam to completely penetrate the design, then allow your project to dry completely before removing it from the towel. You may need to repeat the steaming.

To avoid that your punch needle project curls in the future, follow the recommended space between rows and stitches. As rule of tumb your should make your punches the lenght of one needle diameter from eachother.

When you use a thick yarn with the wooden punch needle, the space between your rows should be slightly bigger. And when you use a fine refill needle with your clover embroidery punch the stitches will be very close to eachother.

My punch needle fabric shows through my finished piece. How can I solve this?2018-11-27T10:39:12+01:00

When your punches are too far away from eachother, your punch needle fabric can show through your finished piece. Gleefully you can easily fix this by adding more punches to the empty spaces of your finished piece.

To avoid that your punch needle fabric shows through, follow the recommended space between rows and stitches. As rule of tumb your should make your punches the lenght of one needle diameter from eachother.

When you use a thick yarn with the wooden punch needle, the space between your rows should be slightly bigger. And when you use a fine refill needle with your clover embroidery punch the stitches will be very close to eachother.

Why are my punch needle loops not even?2018-11-27T10:45:26+01:00

When your punch needle loops are not even, we recommend to do the following checks:

  1. Are you punching your needle all the way to the other side of your fabric? The metal part of your needle should go all the way through.
  2. Are your stitches even? The lenght of your stitches should be about the same as the diameter size of your needle. So if you use a finer needle, your stitches should be closer together.
  3. Are you gliding your needle over the fabric? If you pull the needle up to high from the fabric, you will pull the loop on the other side.
My fabric gets loose. How can I keep fabric tight in an embroidery hoop?2018-12-05T13:58:08+01:00

With Punch needling you put a lot of tension on your fabric as you punch along. This may cause your fabric to loosen, and your fabric tension is no longer even. And that might result in uneven loops. So you want to keep the fabric tight in an embroidery hoop.

When using an embroidery hoop, we therefor recommend to bind the inner hoop with some fabric straps or twill tape or bias tape. Alternativly you can also use a glue gun and make a line of silicone on the inside of your outer ring.

It is easier to keep your fabric tight in a smaller embroidery hoop. When working on a very large project, you can consider stapling your fabric onto a a wooden frame. You can make your own frame or buy a painting canvas and replace the canvas fabric with punch needle fabric.

Do I need to knot the thread to secure the punch needle loops?2018-12-05T13:58:27+01:00

You do not need to knot the thread to secure the punch needle loops. There are so many loops packed in tightly together that the they create sufficient tension to keeps the loops from pulling out. We do recommend that you keep the finished pieces out of reach for curious babies, chewing dogs, cats, or beater bars from vacuum cleaners.

When Punching with a color, can I jump over other stitches to punch another area with the same color?2018-12-05T12:02:43+01:00

We do not recommend that you jump over other stitches to reach another area with the same color. Especially if you make long jumps these stitches pull out easily. For a wall hanging it is OK to jump over a few stitches, but for a rug we strongly discourage you to do so.

Can I machine wash my punch needle project?2018-12-05T11:36:41+01:00

If you need to wash you project, we recommend that you wash it by hand to prevent the threads from coming undone. But if you must machine wash your punch needle project, use the delicate cycle.

Contact us with your Punch Needle Questions. We love to help!

Shop supplies featured in this punch needle tutorial for beginners

Start Punching with 5 Euro discount

punch needle newsletter

Get 5 euro off your first order. Subscribe to our Newsletter. Receive product updates and exclusive discounts

* indicates required
You will receive a coupon code for 5 euro off (4,24 when you shop TAX free) your first order over 20 euro made within the next 30 days. When subscribing you allow us to send e-mails to you. You can unsubscribe at any moment you like. Read our privacy policy here

Punch Needle Blogs

2019-08-17T20:51:39+01:00