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Punchneedle PlanetJune logo

I’m so happy to see punchneedle embroidery starting to get more popular (finally!) and thought it was about time I dust off my needle and start some new embroideries of my own. Although it’s mostly the large rug-punch style that’s trending right now, it’s miniature punchneedle embroidery – worked with a smaller tool and standard embroidery floss – that I’ve been enjoying for almost a decade.

Punchneedle really is the easiest form of embroidery – you can draw any shapes on your fabric and fill them with punched loops of colour just like a paint-by-number painting!

Intrigued? Learn more on my Punchneedle info pages.

And now here’s the PlanetJune logo, punchneedle style!

PlanetJune logo in Punchneedle Embroidery

I love the depth that the looped stitches give to the finished piece, don’t you?

PlanetJune logo in Punchneedle Embroidery

I thought you might like to see a little look at the process!

This is the back of the embroidery, and the side that faces you while you punch. You can see it looks like rows of straight stitches. Here, I’ve finished all the red but I’ve only done about half of the white areas:

PlanetJune logo in Punchneedle Embroidery

From the front, you can see the nice even loops that are formed by the punchneedle tool as you punch. The loops are so dense that you can’t even see any spaces in the upper half where the white will define the red sections. But that will all change soon…

PlanetJune logo in Punchneedle Embroidery

After punching the rest of the white stitches and the finishing steps to tidy up any loose threads and messy stitches, here’s the result:

PlanetJune logo in Punchneedle Embroidery

And then the final step – it’s basically finished, but, at this stage of a punchneedle embroidery, you can choose what to do next depending on what you want to do with the embroidery.

You could keep it attached to the backing fabric as in the photo above and frame it like that, fill in the backing fabric with more colours and/or patterns to fill the hoop and use the hoop as a frame, square off the embroidery with more stitches and then frame it, turn it into an applique to attach to something else… Lots of choices!

I decided to mount my logo on a felt backing and cut it out so it became a free-standing ornament:

PlanetJune logo in Punchneedle Embroidery

Isn’t it cool?

Next, I think I’ll return to my punchneedle butterflies project – I want to make a beautiful Monarch to commemorate my return to Canada!


If you’d like to learn more about punchneedle, see my Punchneedle info pages.

And if you’re ready to get started, my ebook, The Punchneedle Handbook: Miniature Punchneedle Embroidery Basics & Beyond, walks you step by step through the entire process of miniature punchneedle embroidery, from selecting tools and materials, to how to punch correctly, and the all-important finishing steps for perfecting your finished embroideries. It’s available in two versions, for right- and left-handers, so you can see step-by-step photos that show you exactly how you’ll be punching.

The Punchneedle Handbook by PlanetJune

Have you tried punchneedle embroidery yet? If not, I’d love to help get you started with this easy and satisfying craft! If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments below 🙂

Comments (6)

Punchneedle Butterfly 3: Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing

I’ve started an ongoing long term craft project to make a group of different butterflies using Punchneedle embroidery – all different colours and shapes but all based on my interpretation of real species – and mount each one individually on a wall so they all ‘fly’ together in a colourful cloud.

It took me the best part of a year to sketch up the design for my next Punchneedle butterfly, and only a few pleasurable hours to transfer my design, punch it, wire the wings, back it with felt, and trim it… You may have seen my in-progress shot a couple of weeks ago on Twitter:

punchneedle butterfly: rajah brooke's birdwing by planetjune

Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing is the national butterfly of Malaysia, and all our attempts to spot one during our trip to Borneo last year were in vain. I decided to make up for that disappointment by creating my own in punchneedle – the bold electric green on black makes for a spectacular design…

punchneedle butterfly: rajah brooke's birdwing by planetjune

Each of my punchneedle butterflies is designed to fit inside a 6″ embroidery hoop, so my collection is definitely not to scale. While my Peacock and Sea Green Swallowtail are both much larger than their real-life counterparts, birdwing butterflies are huge, and my ‘Brooke Butterfly’ (as they called it in Borneo) is actually just about life-sized!

punchneedle butterfly: rajah brooke's birdwing by planetjune

This brings my little collection to three, and I think my butterflies are almost ready to leave the safety of my shelves and migrate to their eventual wall display. I’ll probably get started on that when I’ve completed one more design…

punchneedle butterfly: rajah brooke's birdwing by planetjune

This is a very long-term project for me, but I’m so enjoying seeing my small collection slowly grow with each new butterfly. I think I’ll try to make a Monarch next, although it’ll be fiddly to make: punchneedle is best suited for bold shapes, not fine lines. But the Monarch is my favourite butterfly from my time in Canada, so it wouldn’t feel right to omit it just because it’ll be a challenge.

While it’s a shame that my punchneedle patterns don’t really sell well enough to justify making any more, there’s a silver lining to that too: it gives me the freedom to call this project pure art, with no constraints for making the butterfly designs easy to replicate by others. If that changes at some point in the future, I’d publish all my butterfly patterns as an ebook and grade the designs by difficulty, so it’s still not a bad idea to make my Monarch. And, if not, I’m enjoying making my butterfly collection, and I hope you’re enjoying seeing them!

If this post has piqued your interest in Punchneedle embroidery, take a look at my Punchneedle intro page for information on this craft and how to get started.

Comments (8)

Punchneedle Butterfly 2: Peacock

I’ve started an ongoing long term craft project to make a group of different butterflies using Punchneedle embroidery – all different colours and shapes but all based on my interpretation of real species – and mount each one individually on a wall so they all ‘fly’ together in a colourful cloud.

I finished the design for my second Punchneedle butterfly in September, punched it up over my Christmas break, and backed and trimmed it this week. You may have seen my in-progress shot a couple of weeks ago on Twitter:

punchneedle butterfly: peacock by planetjune

The Peacock is arguably one of Britain (and Europe)’s most beautiful butterflies and one I remember growing up with. I thought its bright colours and bold patterning would make it a good choice for punchneedle. I used the colour-mixing technique from my Punchneedle Handbook to extend my palette and add detail along the tops of the wings and to either side of the body – I think it works well.

punchneedle butterfly: peacock by planetjune

I wired my Peacock’s wings and backed it with felt, as I did with my Sea Green Swallowtail, and I’m enjoying seeing them together in my office/studio. (By the way, they aren’t to scale because each butterfly is designed to fit inside a 6″ embroidery hoop – that allows enough size to capture some nice detail in the wings, but not so much that they take forever to complete.)

punchneedle butterfly: peacock by planetjune

My ‘wall of butterflies’ concept is slowly starting to take shape! I’ll move them to a wall once I’ve made a couple more – they’d look a little lonely at the moment. I’m looking forward to seeing the collection gradually expand over the coming months and years.

punchneedle butterfly: peacock by planetjune

I’m very happy with the way my Peacock turned out. Do you like it too? I wonder which butterfly I’ll try next… maybe a Monarch (my favourite butterfly from Canada), or a Rajah Brooke’s Birdwing (to remind me of our trip to Borneo). I’d like to have a mix of butterflies with personal significance to me, species that are especially beautiful, and an overall variety of colours and wing shapes in the collection, so let me know if you have any favourites I should consider 🙂

If this post has piqued your interest in Punchneedle embroidery, take a look at my Punchneedle intro page for information on this craft and how to get started.

Comments (7)

Punchneedle Butterfly 1: Sea Green Swallowtail

I’ve started an ongoing long term craft project to make a group of different butterflies using Punchneedle embroidery – all different colours and shapes but all based on my interpretation of real species – and mount each one individually on a wall so they all ‘fly’ together in a colourful cloud.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have spotted this in-progress photo of my Sea Green Swallowtail:

punchneedle butterfly wip

With everything that’s happened lately, it’s taken me a while to find the time to finish the butterfly, but now here she is:

punchneedle butterfly: sea green swallowtail by planetjune

I wired the wings so I can bend them back slightly, to add a little dimension, and I bent the ends of the wire into a concealed hanging loop and a hook, so I have the option to hang the butterfly from a nail in the wall, or hook it onto something. Until I build enough of a collection to have them ‘flying’ up a wall, I’ll be hooking them into my wire storage shelves (with my prop fake plants) – and that looks pretty good too:

punchneedle butterfly: sea green swallowtail by planetjune

I’m so happy with how my first butterfly design turned out – bright and cheerful and colourful, just as I’d envisaged!

I’ve decided on a constraint for all the butterflies in this project: I’ll scale all my designs so they fit nicely into a 6″ embroidery hoop (as I did for this first one), for ease of punching. And, to suit the strengths of the Punchneedle medium, I’ll be looking for butterflies that don’t have too much fine detail, but that have varied wing shapes, colours and patterns, so I can build a stunning collection.

punchneedle butterfly: sea green swallowtail by planetjune

My next butterfly design will be a beautiful Peacock, and, after that, I’m not sure! I know I’d like to include at least one butterfly from each country I’ve lived in as part of this project, but they don’t all need to have personal significance to me. Do you have a favourite type of butterfly? Let me know, and I may add it to my butterfly collection!

(As I’ve already been asked this question, let me add: I have no specific plans to publish my butterfly designs, but I’m not ruling out the possibility of one day publishing them, either as individual patterns or as an ebook collection, if there’s enough interest. For now, I’m just enjoying the slow process of creating without any pressure to publish.)

buy The Punchneedle Handbook by June Gilbank

If this post has piqued your interest in Punchneedle embroidery, take a look at my Punchneedle intro page for information on this craft and how to get started.

And I know of an excellent ebook if you’d like to try your hand at it – my own Punchneedle Handbook! My punching skills are a little rusty after my 3-year hiatus, but I used all the fix-it tips from the Troubleshooting section of my book to perfect my butterfly, and now you’d never know (if I hadn’t just told you). 😉

Comments (9)

The Punchneedle Handbook, 2nd edition

An exciting announcement today: I’ve just published the 2nd edition of my punchneedle embroidery ebook, The Punchneedle Handbook: Miniature Punchneedle Embroidery Basics & Beyond.

The new 2nd edition is fully revised and updated, with a clean, space-saving layout that allows for larger photos throughout and additional content. And, most importantly, it’s now available in 2 versions: right-handed and left-handed.

punchneedle by planetjune

New to Punchneedle?

If you’ve yet to experience the joys of punchneedle embroidery, read my Punchneedle FAQ to get an idea of what this underrated craft is all about and why I find it so appealing.

punchneedle by planetjune

Then allow me to guide you through the learning process with The Punchneedle Handbook ebook, in which I show you step-by-step how to create beautiful, colourful, textured embroideries with just a punchneedle tool and one simple looped stitch.

punchneedle by planetjune

You’ll learn how to perfect your technique and experiment with colour effects, and how to finish your embroideries. My invaluable troubleshooting section shows you examples of every problem you may encounter as you punch, with instructions for how to fix problems in your existing project, and how to prevent them from happening in future.

Launch Discount!

For one week only, you can buy the 2nd edition of The Punchneedle Handbook at 15% off – that’s only $8.50! (And you also have the choice of adding any one of my punchneedle patterns to your order for half price, so you can practice your newfound skills.) To take advantage of my launch special, just use the discount code PUNCH at checkout.

planetjune punchneedle patterns
All the PlanetJune punchneedle patterns

Existing Customers

If you bought the 1st edition of The Punchneedle Handbook, as a thank you for your past custom, I’d like to offer you a copy of the 2nd edition (version of your choice) absolutely free! If you’d like to take me up on this, please email me with:

  • The 5-digit order number of your original order (you’ll find it in your PlanetJune account and in your original order confirmation email)
  • Your choice of the right-handed or left-handed version

I’ll add a download link for the 2nd edition to your existing order and email you a confirmation when it’s ready for you to download 🙂

Note: I’m keeping this offer open indefinitely, as the current anti-spam regulations mean I don’t think I can email past customers – even to offer you a free upgrade with no strings attached – without your explicit consent. So I hope you’ll all find this post eventually and take me up on the offer!

(I’ve also reformatted all my existing punchneedle patterns into my new layout, but the changes are only cosmetic, and there’s probably little point in you downloading the new versions of any you’ve already purchased. But, if you do want to grab the reformatted versions, the download links are active in your previous orders in your PlanetJune account.)

I Love Punchneedle!

I haven’t had a chance to make any punchneedle art for far too long, but that’s all changing…

punchneedle art by June Gilbank
My punchneedle art: 3D sculptural globe embroidery and 2D ‘Musicians of Bremen’ thread painting

I’ve been really enjoying my return to punchneedle – it’s like paint-by-numbers with embroidery floss: fast, relaxing and satisfying. I’ll have the first butterfly from my new project ready to show you soon – it’s so exciting to work on something completely new, and I think this butterfly project is going to yield a gorgeous collection.

buy The Punchneedle Handbook by June Gilbank

I’m so happy to be able to relaunch my ebook with this new 2nd edition, and especially that I can now offer you a book that’s tailored for you as a right- or left-hander, with large, clear photos so you can see exactly how the punchneedle tool and stitches should look at every step of the process.

I hope The Punchneedle Handbook will help you to enjoy punchneedle as much as I do!

Comments (1)

a plan to make butterflies…

I’m really enjoying butterflies at the moment. I love sitting in the sunshine and watching the butterflies float over my garden, but they almost always refuse to land and let me capture them in a photo. Here’s my favourite photo I’ve managed to take so far, thanks to the lure of my pretty Pompom Tree:

butterfly photo
I think it’s a Common Zebra Blue (it was blue on top!) but don’t quote me on that…

We’ve visited Butterfly World in the Cape Winelands – a butterfly house makes it much easier to see all sorts of butterflies close up and take photos, and we’ll definitely be going back – but it somehow feels like cheating once you know they have to import 300 chrysalises every week to keep the tropical butterflies on display, so it’s not exactly a natural environment… Anyway, here’s one of my favourite Butterfly World pics:

butterfly photo
No idea what type of butterfly this is (Butterfly World is a bit lacking in info), but just look at those markings!

And, in my downtime, I’ve been enjoying playing Flutter: Butterfly Sanctuary on my phone – it’s a beautiful, non-competitive, casual game where the goal is to attract and raise different species of butterflies in your own little patch of rainforest. It’s even educational, as all the butterflies are based on real species and there’s a fun fact to discover about each species! (Yes, this is the kind of game I’d be making if PlanetJune ever expanded into game design!)

flutter: butterfly sanctuary
If you’re looking for a relaxing casual game for Android or iOS, I can recommend Flutter!

Naturally, my thoughts turned to making some butterflies of my own – bright, beautiful butterflies to display in my house and inspect whenever I want, many-coloured and patterned after real species. I can’t achieve that level of detail in crochet without tiny stitches (my hands say no thanks) or lots of surface embroidery (to me, that’s ‘cheating’ – it’s not my design style) and then I remembered my old friend punchneedle embroidery

Punchneedle is the perfect medium for the butterflies I want to make! Using multiple colours doesn’t increase the difficulty the way it would in crochet, and I can choose from hundreds of shades of embroidery floss to make each butterfly just right. I haven’t had a chance to do any punchneedle since before I left Canada, and now I’m going to make time to play – it’ll be healthy to have a fun ongoing non-work-related craft project. I’ll be making them in a similar fashion to my Punchneedle Poinsettia design, so I’ll cut each one to shape after I finish the embroidery and there’ll be no background around the wings:

punchneedle poinsettia by planetjune

My vision is to make a group of different butterflies – all different colours and shapes but all based on my interpretation of real species – and mount each one individually on a wall so they all ‘fly’ together in a colourful cloud. The great part of my plan is that each butterfly will be its own mini work of art, so there’s no pressure to complete the project – I can just design a new butterfly whenever I feel like it, buy the right shades of floss, make the embroidery, and then add it to the group. The project will be finished when I get bored with it, or my swarm of butterflies may continue to grow forever…

Isn’t this a great idea? My first punchneedle butterfly will be one of my friends from the Flutter game: a Sea Green Swallowtail – I’ll share the results with you soon!

Comments (6)

Musicians of Bremen punchneedle

I’ve been waiting for a very long time to be able to show you this piece! I was commissioned to make some punchneedle-embroidered artwork in 2009 for a book about stories told through needlearts. Recent years have created an uncertain climate for traditional print publishing, and (to make a very long story short) the book never made it to print. So, after years of waiting, I’m finally free to show you what I made…

Musicians of Bremen punchneedle embroidery by June Gilbank (PlanetJune)

I chose the folk tale of the Musicians of Bremen for my design for several reasons: the story spoke to me; it’s not an obvious choice of story, so it hasn’t been overused or Disneyfied; it features animals; and there’s the iconic image of the animals standing on each others’ backs that I thought would translate well into my artwork.

If you’re not familiar with the story, the four abandoned animals find each other as they each set out alone to seek their fortune as musicians in Bremen, but ultimately they discovered all they needed to be happy when they found a home and the companionship of their friends. I like this moral of simple comfort and happiness.

Musicians of Bremen punchneedle embroidery - detail - by June Gilbank (PlanetJune)
Fine detail in the cockerel and silver mackerel tabby markings.

I designed my piece to be set in the forest at night, showing the animals looking through the window of the cottage that would ultimately become their home. The visual impact comes from the color of the animals and the warmth of the lighted cottage window against the cool, dark background of the forest. I used a palette of 29 shades of embroidery floss in this piece, including a colour-blending technique to add depth to the forest floor.

Musicians of Bremen punchneedle embroidery - detail - by June Gilbank (PlanetJune)
Awww, donkey! Plus some of the colour-blended background.

It took a couple of months to complete the embroidery. The finished piece measures 7 3/4 x 5 1/2 inches (19.7 x 14.0 cm) and is stretched over felt-covered board so it doesn’t need a frame and can be propped on a mantelpiece or hung on a wall. The Musicians of Bremen is my second-largest punchneedle project after my globe (pictured below, with my crocheted orangutan):

punchneedle globe by planetjune

I haven’t had time to make any new punchneedle projects since the globe, but looking at my Musicians of Bremen piece makes me hope I can find some time to start punching again – it makes for such colourful, textural, satisfying projects!

punchneedle embroidery patterns by planetjune
If this post has you intrigued about punchneedle embroidery, please see my Punchneedle FAQ for more info, a tutorial, lots of patterns, and my ebook, The Punchneedle Handbook.

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punchneedle globe revealed!

Ah, this post has been a long time coming… (Previous update posts are here: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.)

I’m not quite sure when I embarked on this project as I didn’t keep any notes; all I know for sure is that my Illustrator design file was last modified in December 2009, so it’s taken over a year to take this project from a 2D pattern to a 3D completed piece. But here, finally, it is: the Punchneedle Embroidery Globe! Click the pic for the larger version:

punchneedle globe (with crocheted orangutan) by planetjune
Hey – it’s PlanetJune personified! Maybe this should be my logo 🙂

Thank you to my orangutan for posing with the globe for these photos 😉

Stitching the two halves together was quite a challenge. I used a curved upholstery needle but it was still really tricky. When I’d stitched 11 of the 12 segments together, I started stuffing. And stuffing, and stuffing, and then stuffing some more. In the end it took about half a standard bag of fiberfill to keep the globe in shape. And I was very glad to have my Detail Stuffing Tool for the final stuffing additions as I stitched the opening closed.

But finally, it was finished! Here are some more views (again, click for the larger version):

punchneedle globe (with crocheted orangutan) by planetjune
Asia and Australia, Europe and Africa, N and S America…

You can see from the above pictures that my globe isn’t a perfect sphere – it looks slightly narrower in the middle picture than in the 2 outer pics. There’s a reason for that: although I did account for the fact that my base fabric (weaver’s cloth) has stretch in only one direction, which changes the aspect ratio of the finished piece, I didn’t realise that by punching so much more densely than usual, I’d change the amount of stretch significantly, so I didn’t distort my pattern enough to compensate for that before I transferred it to my fabric. My finished globe has a circumference of 18″ at the widest point and 17″ at the narrowest. Not perfect, but considering I had no idea if my idea of a 3D punchneedled piece would even work at all, I can live with it.

I’m a geek…

I decided to put on my science geek hat and come up with some estimates of how many stitches went into this project. I came up with two methods for the estimation; both are very rough, but taken together they at least give us some idea.

Method 1: floss length. I counted how many stitches I made with a known length of floss. I kept track of how many skeins of floss I used (28) and the length of each skein, to extrapolate the number of stitches in the whole globe. Result: 55,000 stitches.

Method 2: surface area. I counted how many stitches I’d made in a typical square centimetre on the back of the embroidery, and then used the average circumference of the finished globe to calculate its radius (C=2πr), subtract the stitch loop length (to give the size of the backing fabric) and then its surface area (SA=4πr²). Result: 63,000 stitches.

So I feel fairly confident in saying that there’s somewhere in the region of 60,000 stitches in my globe – and even at punchneedle speed, that’s a lot of stitches!

2011 is almost here

The coming year is going to bring some big changes for me (and Dave and Maui). I still can’t really get my head around this idea of moving, especially to the southern hemisphere – what a change that’ll be! But now, at least I have a way to visualize it:

punchneedle globe (with crocheted orangutan) by planetjune
Canada to Cape Town… it’s even further away than I’d realised!

Thanks for accompanying me on my journey to complete this globe! I hope you like the result. It’s funny that I had no idea how relevant it would be to me when I embarked on this project…

Comments (36)

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