How to Use a Punch Needle

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Embroidery using a punch needle has often been called "thread painting" because of its intricacy and style. Embroidering with a punch needle using beautiful and complex patterns and details can result in works that resemble oil paintings. The final products often have the texture and three-dimensional appearance of hooked rugs, and the embroidery is beautifully constructed. Knowing how to properly use punch needles can add more dimensions and style to your embroidery work.

Things You'll Need

  • Punch needle
  • Needle threader
  • Threads
  • Pattern
  • Embroidery hoop

Thread the Needle

  • Feed the looped end of the needle threader through the pointed, or beveled, end of the punch needle. Push it all the way through so that it pokes out the other end.

  • Insert the required number of threads for your project through the loop sticking out of the end of the needle. Pull the threader back through the punch needle so that the threads are exposed at the beveled end of the needle. Release the thread from the threader.

  • Feed the looped end of the needle threader through the eye of the needle (the small hole in the beveled end of the needle).

  • Pass the thread through the loop of the needle threader.

  • Pull the threader back through the eye of the needle so that the thread now passes through the eye. Remove the threader from the thread.

Complete the Pattern

  • Attach your patterned fabric to an embroidery hoop so that you can use both hands to work, without having to hold the fabric in place.

  • Hold the needle like a pencil, perpendicular to the fabric. Face the beveled side of the needle in the direction you will travel across the pattern.

  • Punch the needle straight through the fabric until the entire tip of the needle is submerged to the depth gauge (plastic area under the metal of the needle).

  • Gently pull the needle back out, pulling straight up, never at an angle. Pull until the needle is out of the fabric, but do not disconnect the needle point from the face of the fabric. This can cause breakage of the loops.

  • Slide the needle two to three threads forward on the pattern and punch again. Continue along the row. Turn the beveled side of the needle to face the next direction when you reach the end of the row. Continue to punch and turn until the pattern is complete.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can purchase ready-made patterns for punch needle embroidery, or iron on your own for a specific design.
  • When punching, keep the end of the thread that is loose free, instead of wrapping it around your fingers. This allows more access for the thread to flow into the fabric.
  • Remember that, as with any exercise, practice makes perfect. As you do more punching, you will receive a more consistent loop shape and size, as well as spread of threads over the pattern.
  • Punch needles are extremely sharp; always handle them with care.

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