Note: This FAQ is a work in progress - please contact me with any questions that aren't addressed below, and I'll add them here!General Punchneedle Questions
Why won't my stitches stay in place?
There could be several reasons for your problem. The most likely culprits are that you're holding the punchneedle facing the wrong way, you're sliding the needle too far between stitches, or you're lifting the needle away from the fabric after a stitch. For further assistance, The Punchneedle Handbook explains the correct punching technique with close-up photos, and has a detailed troubleshooting section for when things go wrong like this.
How do I secure my stitches?
There's no need to tie any knots with punchneedle - you can just cut the floss after making your last stitch. As the stitches are all formed from the back side of the fabric and locked in place by the weave of the fabric, there's no way to pull them out from the front of the fabric.
If you're going to use the piece as a wallhanging or frame it, there's no need to do any further finishing to secure your stitches. If the back of your embroidery will be exposed or you wish to launder it, or just for added security, I recommend that you spread a thin layer of washable fabric glue over the back of your finished work (the side that faced you while you were punching, not the front side with the loops!) to permanently lock all the loops in place.
See The Punchneedle Handbook for further details and technique info, and all my advice on creating punchneedle embroideries.
What type of fabric can I use for Punchneedle?
Punchneedle needs a tightly-woven non-stretchy fabric as a base, as the weave is the only thing that holds your stitches in place when you remove the fabric from your embroidery hoop.
Note: You definitely can't use cross stitch fabric for punchneedle, as the holes in Aida fabric are far too large to anchor the punched stitches in place!
If you want to punch onto any other type of fabric, you'd need to stabilise the fabric first. You can also make a punched piece and attach the finished piece as an applique to a different fabric, or piece it together with a different fabric to make it into a larger fabric piece.
My fabric recommendations and stabilising instructions, applique and piecing instructions are all included in The Punchneedle Handbook (available for instant download, in both right- and left-handed versions).
What tools/accessories do I need for Punchneedle?
You don't need much to get started with punchneedle! A tool and threader, fabric and a pattern, and an embroidery hoop and floss. See my Punchneedle Supplies page for my recommendations and tips :)
Can I use cross stitch patterns with Punchneedle?
The short answer: not really.
While you could use a simple cross stitch pattern for punchneedle - just fill in the areas of each colour from the pattern with punched stitches - you definitely can't use cross stitch fabric (as the holes in Aida fabric are far too large to anchor the punched stitches in place) so you'd have to transfer the cross stitch pattern to a suitable fabric before you begin to punch the design.
If you have a cross-stitch kit, you'd also need to buy additional floss, as punchneedle uses much more floss than cross stitch.
What needle size do I need?
Punchneedle sizing information is very unclear, and the packaging rarely tells you exactly which sizes you're buying! The needle sizes are as follows:
EXTRA SMALL (1 strand of floss)
SMALL (2 strands of floss) = 1.2mm
MEDIUM (3 strands of floss) = 1.6mm
LARGE (6 strands of floss) = 2.2mm
EXTRA LARGE (used with rug yarn or ribbon)
The MEDIUM tip (highlighted in bold, above) is all you need for the standard miniature punchneedle embroidery that I cover on these pages.
Are there larger Punchneedles?
The type of punchneedle embroidery I cover in these pages is miniature punchneedle embroidery. There are also much larger punchneedles which are used with yarn (instead of embroidery floss) as an alternative to making latch-hooked rugs. If you see any references to the Oxford Punchneedle tool, Monk's Cloth or burlap fabric, Rug Punch, or yarn used in punchneedle, these all refer to the scaled-up version of this craft!
However, the punching technique is exactly the same: you punch through the back of the fabric and end up with looped stitches on the front of the fabric; the stitches, and the end result, are just much larger with a rug punch than with a floss punch.
Can you keep me updated about Punchneedle?
Yes! Please sign up for my Punchneedle mailing list, and I'll send you occasional email updates when I have new punchneedle patterns or information for you.
Which edition of The Punchneedle Handbook do I own?
If you ordered before July 10th, 2014, you'll have the original version (the first edition). The PDF file and book cover are named The Punchneedle Handbook, with no mention of right-handed or left-handed.
(See below for how to upgrade your first edition to a FREE copy of the second edition.)
If you have the second edition, the filename and book cover will specify which version (right-handed or left-handed) you ordered. The second edition is also fully revised and updated, with a clean, space-saving layout, larger photos throughout and additional content.
Can I upgrade to the 2nd Edition for free?
Yes! If you bought the first edition of The Punchneedle Handbook, 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) and your choice of the right-handed or left-handed version, and I'll add a download link for the second edition to your order at no additional charge.
Please contact me with any other questions and I'll add them to this FAQ!
If you're having difficulty with your punch technique, I recommend you pick up my ebook, The Punchneedle Handbook - with its clear step-by-step photos, it'll be your go-to reference for punchneedle instructions, techniques, and troubleshooting tips. Download it now and find the answers to all your questions!