How to do punch needle embroidery

Written by emily weller
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Punch needle embroidery is a craft dating back to the 17th century. Thread is pushed through fabric using a punch needle, which is a handle into which various sizes of hollow needles can be inserted, depending on the project. Only one stitch is used in punch needle, and the result is a textured surface made up of loops of thread, yarn or ribbon, similar to latch hook, only much smaller. Even if you have no prior embroidery experience, it's easy to begin with punch needle embroidery, letting you start a new hobby that is incredibly fun and satisfying.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Pattern
  • Cotton or linen fabric
  • Light box
  • Disappearing ink pen
  • Punch needle
  • Needle threader
  • Thread
  • Locking lip embroidery hoop
  • Scissors

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    Transfer Pattern to Fabric

  1. 1

    Turn the fabric so the backside is face up. Place the pattern underneath the fabric and align the edges of the pattern with the fabric grain.

  2. 2

    Place your fabric and pattern on a light box or hold them up to a sunny window.

  3. 3

    Secure the fabric and pattern and trace the pattern onto the fabric, using a disappearing ink pen.

    Thread the Punch Needle

  1. 1

    Run the threader through the punch needle, looped end first, until the looped end sticks out of the handle.

  2. 2

    Insert the thread through the looped end of the threader, then pull the threader out from the punch needle.

  3. 3

    Pull the looped end of the threader through the punch needle's eye. The threads should now run through the needle and the eye. Remove the threader.

  4. 4

    Set the proper depth gauge on your punch needle. The depth gauge determines the size of the loops. If you use one strand of thread, the depth gauge is usually about a quarter of an inch.

    Start Embroidering

  1. 1

    Drape the fabric over the inner ring of your embroidery hoop. Center your pattern on the ring's opening. Place the outer ring over the top of the fabric. Tighten the ring as you pull the fabric taut inside it. Keep the fabric as tight as possible to ensure even stitching.

  2. 2

    Hold the punch needle at a 90-degree angle to the fabric. Holding the punch needle like you would a pen, place it just inside the line of the pattern, with the bevelled side of the punch needle facing the direction you will be stitching.

  3. 3

    Push the punch needle through the fabric, straight down, until the depth gauge hits the fabric. Carefully pull the punch needle back up and out of the fabric, but do not take the punch needle tip off the fabric, or you could pull out your loops. Move the punch needle over on the fabric, aligned with the pattern, and punch down again.

  4. 4

    Turn the punch needle so the bevel faces in the direction you wish to stitch next. Pull the punch needle up and continue to stitch.

  5. 5

    Trim any extra threads on the back. Remove the fabric from the hoop, and iron around the design.

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