Punch needle embroidery is worked on a foundation of tightly woven fabric, preferably 50 percent cotton and 50 percent polyester. The fabric holds the thread loops in place. There is no knotting in punch needle, so it is very important to stretch the foundation fabric tightly in an embroidery hoop; otherwise, the weave will not hold the loops in place when the fabric is removed from the hoop. The type of fiber used in the punch needle determines the weight of the foundation fabric.
Weaver's cloth is a polyester and cotton blended fabric that works well for punch needle designs embroidered with one to three strands of embroidery floss or buttonhole thread. Commercial punch needle kits most commonly have designs printed on weaver's cloth.
Denim is a tightly woven cotton fabric that provides an excellent base for punch needle designs. Several different weights of denim fabric are available. The heavier weight denim works better than the lightweight kind. Denim that contains stretch polyester should not be used for punch needle projects. Use a heavy denim when embroidering with 4-ply yarn or ribbon and medium-weight denim if embroidering with 2-ply yarn or three to six strands of embroidery floss.
Twill is a fabric made with a tight diagonal weave. It's sold in both solid and printed versions in several weights. Medium- or heavy-weight twill provides a solid foundation for punch needle designs. Use heavy twill when embroidering with 4-ply yarn or ribbon and medium-weight twill when embroidering with 2-ply yarn or three to six strands of embroidery floss.
Aida cloth is most commonly used for cross-stitch embroidery, but it is sometimes used successfully as a foundation for punch needle. It is available in different counts, which represent the number of cross stitches per inch the fabric will hold. Do not use Aida cloth with less than 14 stitches per inch, or 14-count cloth. The weave is more open in lower count Aida cloth and does not hold the punch needle loops in place. The higher count cloth, such as 18-count Aida, may provide better results.