Looking to get started with punch needle? The following is an article about my recommended supplies you’ll need for the type of punch needle embroidery done with rug yarn. (If you are looking for the smaller-scale type of punch needle done with embroidery floss, click here instead.)
Punch needle embroidery is a great craft for fiber artists of all ages and skill levels. Punch needle embroidery requires minimal supplies that won’t take up a lot of precious storage space.
There are just a few things you need to get started: A punch needle tool, a few colors of yarn, foundation fabric, and a frame to hold it all together. Check out this guide to learn all about punch needle for beginners, or check out this list of the best punch needle kits.
My Favorite Punch Needle Tool
A punch needle is a very basic tool. In simple terms, a punch needle tool is a type of needle that pushes loops of yarn through an even-weave fabric. With skill and imagination, you can use this simple tool to make beautiful and complex designs.
There are a few different brands on the market, but they all have the same basic design. There is a hollow metal needle with a large eye and a channel through which to thread the yarn. Some tools have thinner plastic handles, some have larger wooden handles. Some tools have a fixed length, some have adjustable depth gauges.
My favorite punch needle tool is made by Amy Oxford. It has a thick, ergonomic wooden handle. It comes in A Regular size thickness to be used with Bulky weight yarn, and a Fine size thickness to be used with Worsted weight yarn.
The Amy Oxford tool also comes in several different lengths for making different size loops. For example, a #8 needle makes loops that are 1/2″ tall. A #10 needle makes loops that are 1/4″ tall.
For my purposes, I like a #10 Regular punch needle.
A less expensive option: If you are looking for a less expensive punch needle tool that you can experiemnt with before upgrading to the Oxford tool, check out this punch needle tool. The handle is plastic and it’s not quite as easy to thread, but it’s a well-liked, less expensive choice.
The Best Fabric for Punch Needle
I get so many questions about the right type of fabric to use for punch needle embroidery — and I completely understand the confusion about this topic.
The type of fabric that you see most people recommend is called Monk’s cloth. Monk’s cloth is my favorite type of foundation or backing fabric for punch needle, and it’s what I recommend to beginners.
Monk’s cloth is a type of woven fabric made of 100% cotton. It’s sturdy, yet flexible.
Monk’s cloth is available several sizes of weaves. The size of the weave is measured by how many holes are in one inch. This is called the fabric’s count. The most common counts in Monk’s Cloth are 7-count and 12-count. For punch needle, choose a monk’s cloth with approximately 12 holes per inch.
But here’s the tricky part! Most craft stores carry a type of monk’s cloth with a much larger weave, usually 7-count. If you are in Joann Fabrics, Michaels, or even on Amazon — you’re probably looking at this more loosely-woven Monk’s cloth. This type of monk’s cloth has a very open weave, which means your yarn won’t be held as tightly and may slip out.
SO! I recommend ordering your fabric from a shop that specifically mentions the count. The description should say something like 12 count, 12 holes per inch, or 24 threads per inch. I’ve found the right type of Monk’s cloth at Dorr Mill and amyoxford.com.
(If you are doing the type of fine punch needle embroidery with embroidery floss, you’ll want a type of fabric called Weaver’s cloth — which is totally different.)
The Best Yarns for Punch Needle
If you are a purist, you’ll want a 100% wool yarn specifically made to be used in rug-making.
3-ply 100% wool yarn is the best type of yarn to use in punch needle projects that will see a lot of wear. It’s spun from breeds of sheep with coarser, stronger fleeces, so that it is durable enough to be used for rugs in high traffic areas. Yes, you’ll be able to walk on your punch needle embroidery rugs!
That said, you can experiment with any type of yarn that will flow easily through the shaft of your punch needle.
I find that “bulky” weight yarns work the best. You can use wool, wool blends, cotton, or even 100% acrylic yarns — just stay away from anything too slippery, lumpy, or bumpy. Anything too slippery is likely to just fall out of the Monk’s cloth, and anything too lumpy won’t pass through the eye of the punch needle tool.
If you have a worsted weight yarn that you want to use in a Regular size needle, try using two strands of yarn held together. I’ve even used tripled sock weight yarn! Feel free to experiment.
The Best Frames for Punch Needle
You’ll also need a frame to hold the backing fabric tight while you do your punching. For punch needle rug hooking, your backing fabric needs to be stretched really tightly!
There are several different types of frames that you can use to hold your punch needle embroidery projects while you are working on them. Here are a few types of frames that work.
Out of all of these options, I usually recommend the Q-snap frame. It holds the fabric well, and it’s a nice inexpensive option for the beginner. Sure, if you end up loving punch needle embroidery, you may want to upgrade to a Gripper Strip Frame — but I love using the Q-snap frames as well.
Other Supplies for Punch Needle
Once you have those 4 main supplies, you’re just about ready to start. You also want to gather up some scissors for cutting yarn, a Sharpie to draw your pattern on the stretched monk’s cloth, and a needle and thread to sew up your project at the end.
Ready for more punch needle tips? Check out this guide about Punch Needle FAQs : Troubleshooting Problems