a punch needle project
Give punch needle embroidery a whirl for a fuzzy explosion of colour.
40x40cm piece of monk’s cloth 25cm diameter wooden hoop textile pen punch needle with threader 25g of yarn for each colour embroidery scissors sewing needle cotton thread
A NOTE BEFORE YOU BEGIN
Punch needle is a type of embroidery inspired by traditional rughooking – it’s sometimes called ‘painting with thread’. Essentially, you’re using a ‘punching’ motion to create a continuous series of loops through a fabric backing – the pressure of the tightly packed loops holds your design in place. It’s important you don't pull on the thread as you go, or you may accidentally tug out a looped stitch. Let the yarn run as freely as possible through the punch needle, checking for knots and making sure it doesn’t get stuck under your hands or feet.
HOW TO PREPARING THE FABRIC
Stretch the piece of monk’s cloth onto the wooden hoop, then screw the hoop nice and tight. You can draw your pattern directly onto the cloth with a textile pen if you fancy, or sketch it on a circular piece of paper cut to the size of the hoop, then place it under the cloth and trace the drawing.
Note: before you begin punching, check the fabric is as tight as possible on the hoop. Stretch it again if needed; you’ll have to check the tension regularly while you work.
THREADING THE NEEDLE
Some needles, like the Oxford punch needle, are super-easy to thread, but if you have one with no slot along the length of the handle, you’ll need to follow these steps. Insert your threader into the punch needle at the needle point, pushing it completely through the barrel of the handle until it comes out the opposite end. Insert your yarn into the threader loop and pull the threader back out the top of the needle. Release the yarn from the threader, then pass it through the eye of the needle from the inside out. Leave about 5cm hanging.
LET’S GET PUNCHING
Position the needle on a line of the pattern and push it into the cloth until you reach the handle. Gently pull it out without taking the tip off the fabric. Then, drag it about 1cm across and push it in again. Continue on, making regular stitches about 5mm apart. The slot of the needle should always be facing forward as you go. Play with the size of your stitches – bigger stitches will leave some empty spaces on the loopy side of your artwork, whereas small stitches will keep the loops full and tight. Fill in the pattern colour by colour, working from the outside of a shape to the inside. Fill the smaller shapes first; punch the background last.
For the outlines, always punch two lines very close together – almost as if you’re pushing the previous stitches inside. When you’re finished with a thread, gently pull the needle out towards the loopy side and cut the thread to 1cm (it helps to pinch the thread while you do this so you don’t accidentally pull out all the loops!). The dangly threads can later be pushed to the back of the cloth with the tip of your scissors.
When your pattern is totally filled and you’re happy with the outcome, flip the hoop over on its back. Roll any excess fabric from the outside in, creating a hem and sewing it in place with large stitches, using a sewing needle and cotton thread.
Bravo! You now have a colourful, fuzzy artwork to decorate your wall.