The following is a modified excerpt from the left-handed version of my eBook, The Punchneedle Handbook: Miniature Punchneedle Embroidery Basics & Beyond, now available for purchase from my online shop in a new 2nd edition, which comes in both right-handed and left-handed versions, so you can buy whichever you need!
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.
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:
It’s a lot of fun and very simple to master. I hope this brief overview has tempted you to try punchneedle yourself!
This is a brief excerpt from my eBook The Punchneedle Handbook, which covers everything you need to know to get started in punchneedle, from equipment advice to detailed instructions on how to punch, with tips, techniques and troubleshooting solutions that will help you to create beautiful punchneedle embroideries in no time. For more details, or to buy the eBook, click through to the PlanetJune shop, where you can also find all of my punchneedle designs!
I have answers! Although I can’t answer specific questions (unless they’re about PlanetJune patterns, in which case email me for customer support), check my Punchneedle FAQ for answers to the most common questions I receive. And if you have further questions about the punching technique, materials, finishing, etc, you’ll find all the answers in The Punchneedle Handbook 🙂
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