What Materials do you need for punch needle?
I've put together a list of the essential tools and materials you need in order to get started with punch needle. There are four materials that you'll need.
- The punch needle
- Frame or Hoop
I’ll talk you through the main points for each of the materials. If you have any questions or doubts, please reach out and i'll help as best I can.
When deciding what materials you need, I recommend deciding on the punch needle first. Punch needles are available in different widths, sizes and brands, but ultimately, they all work in a very similar way.
The punch needle allows a continuous length of yarn to run through the channel. On the working side, a flat stitch is created, and loops are created on the backside. Traditionally, the loop side is the correct side of the work. In modern punch needle, it's up to you and what you prefer.
Each punch needle uses a specific thickness of yarn. For example, both the Oxford Regular punch needle and the Lavor 5.5mm punch needle use chunky and bulky weight yarns. Thinner needles such as the Ultra Punch and the Lavor punch needle embroidery set use embroidery floss and DK or aran weight yarns.
When considering buying a punch needle, think about the type of project you want to create and thickness of yarn you want to work with.
If you're planning to work on large projects such as rugs or cushions, then its worth considering the wider needles such as the Oxford Regular needle or the Lavor adjustable 5.5mm needle. These are made for thicker yarns such as chunky or bulky weight yarns.
If you want to create an intricate piece with lots of detail, or things like coasters, you will need to use a thinner needle. Thinner needle such as an Ultra Punch or a Lavor Fine punch needle embroidery tool use embroidery floss and thing yarns such as a DK weight or aran weight or tapestry yarns.
Your choice of punch needle will dictate the thickness of yarn you will need to choose.
The most important thing when picking a yarn is that it flows freely through the needle. If you are unsure whether the yarn you want to work with is suitable, I recommend punching a sample beforehand.
The second most important thing is considering what the use of the project will be. If your piece is going to get lots of wear and tear, then a harder wearing yarn, such as rug yarn, will be most suitable. If you're creating a wall hanging, for example, then most yarns will be suitable so long as they flow freely through the needle.
Materials you might want to use:
- wool rug yarn
- cotton yarn
- cotton silk blend yarns
- acrylic yarns
- tapestry wool
- novelty yarns
- fabric strips
- acrylic yarn
You want to make sure the fabric you choose lasts. Fabrics like burlap and hessian aren't suitable for punch needle because they break down over time.
When working with a wider needle such as Oxford or a Lavor adjustable needle, you want to use a loosely woven fabric such as monks cloth or linen.
If you are working with a thinner needle such as an Ultra Punch or a Lavor Fine punch needle embroidery tool, a tightly woven fabric is needed in order to hold the loops of the finer yarns or embroidery floss in place.
Monks cloth is an 100% cotton, loosely woven fabric that has been created especially for punch needle. I recommend using this fabric with the large punch needles. It is a really durable and forgiving fabric, making it a great choice for punch needle beginners.
The monks cloth you use should have 12-14 holes per inch. It's worth pointing out that is other monks cloth for sale which has larger holes and this isn't suitable because our loops won't stay in place. I also wanted to flag that cross stitch Aida fabric is also sometimes miss sold as monks cloth. A lot of monks cloth comes with grid lines every 2 inches which helps with stretching and lining up your piece.
Monk's cloth fabric is prone to fraying. I recommend sealing the edges to avoid fraying. You can do this with a zig-zag stitch or straight stitch on your sewing machine, overlocker / serger, fabric glue or even masking tape.
Linen fabric is another loose weave fabric suitable to be used with the larger punch needles. This isn’t as beginner friendly as monks cloth as I find that if you aren’t used to using a punch needle, you are more likely to pull your yarn out and make a hole in the fabric.
I really like using linen as a backing fabric - especially with pieces where I want to leave some of the fabric untouched.
Like monks cloth, linen is also prone to fraying so I also recommend securing it's edges.
This 100% cotton fabric is a tightly woven fabric and is suitable to be used with smaller punch needles such as the Ultra Punch or the Lavor punch needle embroidery tool.
Frames or Hoops
You want your fabric to be stretched as tight as possible. This will make punching much easier and will also help keep your loops an even size. Amy Oxford says that you should be able to bounce quarter (20p) off of the fabric when it's tight enough. There are a few different frames and hoops that I recommend using.
Wooden embroidery hoop
On its own, the wooden embroidery hoop isn't suitable because the fabric pops out , making it an extremely frustrating experience. What you can do, however, is use fabric glue and glue the monks cloth to the hoop. I don't do this myself, but I have seen lots of punch needlers do this.
Rico plastic embroidery hoop
I think this is a great option for beginners and for those who don't have a big budget and it comes in a variety of sizes. I've tried and tested this hoop, it holds fabric in place quite well. I have found I occasionally need to tighten the fabric, but I think it's a great, entry level hoop.
Morgan No-Slip Hoop
This hoop is available in a variety of sizes and in my opinion, is the best hoop out there. It has a patented tongue and groove design which ensures your fabric stays taut.
Canvas Stretcher Bars
This is the most budget friendly option when it comes to frames. You'll be able to purchase these at art stores. They are available in many sizes, so they are a great DIY option.
This is a great option if you want to work on a larger punch needle piece. You will need a staple gun or push pins to secure your fabric to your frame.
Gripper Strip Frame
This is the best frame option but it is more expensive. The gripper strips are made especially for monks cloth.