What is Punchneedle?
Punchneedle is a form of embroidery that uses a hollow needle to create loops of thread on fabric. Also known as thread painting for the complexity and texture of design that can be created with this technique, it creates a textured pile surface akin to a miniature version of a hooked rug.
It is worked on the back of the fabric, which is why all punchneedle patterns are a mirror-image of the completed design. When you punch, you form lines of running stitches on the top of the fabric while forming the loops of the stitches on the front of the fabric (the underside as you are punching). The fabric has to be stretched as tight as a drum in an embroidery hoop.
Punchneedles and weaver’s cloth fabric are available to buy from most craft stores (if you’re in the US, I know that JoAnn has a good selection of the fabric).
Hold the punchneedle in the same way you hold a pen, or however feels comfortable to you. The punchneedle should be held upright so it is almost perpendicular to the fabric, and with the bevelled (slanted) edge facing in the direction you are going to punch your stitches.
Note: I am left-handed, so, as you’ll see in these images, I punch from left to right. Right-handers, punch from right to left.
Begin at any point around the outline, or as instructed in your pattern.
- Push the punchneedle straight down into the fabric, until it stops:
- Bring the needle back up slowly, stopping as soon as the tip is clear of the surface of the fabric:
- Slide the needle tip across the fabric by approximately the width of the needle:
Now repeat – punch the needle into the fabric again, lift it to the surface, slide it across the surface. That’s all there is to the basic punch stitch!
As you punch on the back of the fabric, the stitches will appear as a line of running stitches:
If you turn over the work to look at the front, you’ll see the loops:
If you were to look at the underside of the work as you punch, you would see the needle forming the next loop:
When you reach a corner, stop with the needle in the down position, rotate the hoop, and then continue to punch along the new line. This means you’ll always be punching right to left (left-handers: left to right) and the bevelled edge of the needle will always stay facing forwards.
Once the outline is complete, fill in the area by working in a spiral fashion towards the middle of the area, following the contour of the previous row. Leave about half a needle width of space between each row.
Continue working in a spiral towards the middle until the entire area has been filled in:
In this way, you can complete the entire design by first outlining each area and then filling it in. Punchneedle works up very quickly and gives stunning results:
If you want to see more beautiful pictures of PunchNeedle, click here.