How to Create Bunka Embroidery Artwork

Bunka embroidery is also called Japanese Punch Needle Embroidery and Threadpainting. It's both an art and a craft that originated about 100 years ago in Japan. A punch needle is used to apply silky hand-dyed rayon yarns to fabric using a variety of techniques. Bunka embroidery creates the appearance of delicately shaded painting and the thread is never knotted.

Explore bunka embroidery with a beginner's kit that contains all the materials, instructions for the craft and a color photograph of the finished image. Fill in the outlined areas on the fabric, using colored thread in the numbered areas as in paint-by-numbers kits.

Advance to the more freeform kits with unnumbered designs. Refer to the color image of the finished work to place the yarns with the punch needle.

Use the punch needle like a paint brush, applying the colored yarns in small, fine stitches. Use the hand-dyed yarns to create subtle shading and depth in the image.

Stretch the fabric tightly over a wooden framework. Pay attention to arrows and shading lines on prepared fabric. Use different lengths and directions of stitches to create various textures.

Create designs and work them into clothing and personal accessories, like purses, totes, eyeglass cases and book covers. Transfer the design fabrics with a suitable weave or appliqué the finished design to clothing or accessories.

Share the art of bunka embroidery with adults and children. Purchase kits in all levels of complexity and sizes.

Join the American Bunka Embroidery Association to connect with a local chapter. Share techniques and designs and promote the art form in the United States. (See Resources)


It's easy to correct mistakes, simply take the thread and gently pull it. There isn't a knot in the thread so it should come out of the fabric where the mistake was made.

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