How to Learn Punch Needle For Beginners

Once again I’m back on my nonsense learning a new craft and this time it is punch needle. I’ve recently tried it both at normal scale using yarn and in a tiny format as punch needle embroidery. And if you’re looking for a fun, relaxing craft, punch needle might be a good fit for you!

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What is Punch Needle?

Punch needle is a fiber art that uses a special tool, called a punch needle, to create loops and other stitches on a base, usually a woven fabric. It relies on the tension cased by closely spacing the stitches closely together (and frequently glue or another adhesive) to keep the work in place. The punch needle works by pushing yarn, thread, or another material through a tube with a narrow point at the end.

The size of the punch needle determines the size of the material that can be used for punching. The punch needle technique can be used to create anything from small embroidery designs to large rugs. The fabric used as the base for the punch needle design typically needs to be stretched taught in order for the punch needle to work.

Who Would Enjoy Punching?

There are several great reasons to try punch needle. The tool is entirely unlike any other embroidery or fiber arts technique I’ve tried. It’s very open to improvisation. Mistakes are easy to hide or fix.

Punching also seems like a great way to use up yarn remnants. I find the idea of creating cute rug mugs or other small punched items really appealing. As long as you have the right sized punch needles, it would be easy to mix yarns together without a lot of advanced planning.

Punching is also a great idea if you’re tempted by other run making techniques like rug tufting, but aren’t ready for investing in more equipment.

You might not love punch needle if you find the motion hard on your hands. I did find it a little bit harder on my hands than traditional embroidery. It does, however, feel like it uses different muscles and motions than many of my other crafts. So while I don’t think I’ll be doing punching projects constantly, I do think it’s nice to be able to rotate it in.

The other downside to punch needle is that most of the techniques and projects I’ve seen use glue at the finishing stage. This is usually a failsafe to keep the finished project in place, but if you’re someone who really hates working with glue, you may want to skip this one.

Punch Needle Kits

My go-to is always to purchase a kit when trying out a new craft. I like having someone else make all the decisions about materials and tools so that I can concentrate on learning the new techniques.

LM Tweet

I picked up my first punch needle kit from LM Tweet when I saw their booth at the Renegade Craft Fair this summer. I couldn’t resist the cute pumpkin mug rug pattern, especially as the whole kit was only 20$!

The kit had beautiful instructions and was a great introduction to punch needle. I did end up watching a few YouTube tutorials to get the motion right, but the kit was designed well enough that it felt pretty fool proof.

My only issue with this kit is that it uses acrylic yarn. While it might have increased the cost of the kit, I think it would have been worthwhile to upgrade to wool. Acrylic just doesn’t work as nicely, both during construction (for its gripping powers) and after (for its ability to stand up to repeated pressure from hot mugs of tea). Also, I admit it, I’m a fiber snob!

But overall, it was a fun afternoon project that made a good intro to punch needle.

TCB Punch Needle Embroidery

I’ve also recently finished a micro punch needle embroidery kit from The Crafter’s Box. In the Punch Needle Embroidery Workshop, you make a floral patch using a very small punch needle and embroidery floss. While a bit more expensive than the kit above (85$ at last check), it includes a professionally produced video showing the entire process. I’m a regular TCB subscriber and had a lot of fun with this kit.

I did make one substitution while making this kit, because I generally just cannot help myself. I switched out the blue embroidery floss for a similar color of Gist Array, a wool tapestry yarn. I happened to have it on hand and I was curious to see how it compared. Honestly, I think I liked working with the Array more than the embroidery floss, but the floss is defiantly more economical!

They also have a workshop from Arounna Khounnoraj of Bookhou that teaches punch needle at a more traditional scale. While I haven’t taken that class, I’ve been following her on Instagram for years and love her vibe. If I was looking for another punch needle kit this would be at the top of my list.

Etsy

Fruit Coaster Kit from image by PunchyStuff via Etsy.

Etsy is one of my go-to resources for craft kits, and there are a few options that look promising to me, though I haven’t tried out any of these myself. All the knits I’m highlighting here use cotton or wool yarn, because I am obsessed with using natural fibers all day everyday.

If you want a mug rug all of your own, I’d suggest giving this Fruit Coaster Kit from PunchyStuff a try. The kit includes all three designs, which is a bargain in my opinion! And if you aren’t into this version, check out their store for many other options. Also, did I mention that they also work as magnets?!

Abstract hoop kit image by StudioVerSie via Etsy.

I love how many different stitches are used in this cute Punch Needles Start Kit by ChloeArtCrafts. If you’re an adventurous beginner or looking for your second kit to try, this is a great option. And if you don’t like this kit, try browsing through the sellers other options. This shop has dozens of punch needle kits, all of them adorable.

Another great option if you want to play with materials and stitch types is this abstract hoop kit from StudioVerSie. I love how the stitches used show off the versatility of the punch needle. Plus, the abstract nature of the design makes it hard to for anyone to tell if you’ve made a mistake!

Last, I can’t resist adding in this kit from TinaHouseBoutique. Does it bother me that it’s called the Tiger Punch Needles Start Kit when it clearly is some sort of spotted cat? Yes. A lot. But I love it so much (especially the pink version) that I’m willing to let that slide so I can share it with you.

Online Punch Needle Classes

There are a wide range of different online classes depending on your budget and learning goals. Below are some of my favorite in no particular order.

School of SweetGeorgia

One of my new favorite online platforms, the School of SweetGeorgia has a great class for beginners: Modern Punch Needle by Sahm Jalbert. This course is the only punch needle course in the schools catalog currently, but it is defiantly worth subscribing for a month to watch. After introducing the craft, Jalbert covers the tools and techniques, then has students work through two projects: a sampler using a wide range of materials and a functional coaster. This is an ideal class for someone who likes to have a strong foundation whenever they start a new craft.

Craftsy

If you’re looking to learn from a master of the craft with a great aesthetic sense, I’d recommend Punch Needle Basics to start and the mini course Punch Needle Tote if you’re looking for a project idea. Both are available through Craftsy, and taught by the textile artist Rose Pearlman.

SkillShare

There are over half a dozen punch needle classes on SkillShare, but a few stand out. I’m very interested in Punch Needle Yarn Sculpting by Annie Solar. She promotes it as an intermediate level course and recommends that you take something like her Punch Needle Basics class first if you’re new to the craft. I also love the idea behind Punch Needle Using Fabric Scraps by Rawyah Sami. As a multi-modal maker, I get excited any time I can use a waste product from one craft to learn another.

Domestika

There are about a dozen punch needle classes on Domestika, all taught by artists with very different aesthetics and end products. You can learn how to make Embroidered Portraits with Punch Needle or create a cute stuffed animal. There’s a course on combining punch needle with weaving and embroidery and another one on making accessories. I would probably recommend them more as a second or third class to take; once you have the basics down and are looking for something more specific.

Punch Needle Acadamy

If you’re looking for a school dedicated entirely to punch needle, Punch Needle Academy from Punch Needle World. While I haven’t tried it myself, the course is advertised as taking 5-8 hours, during which you’ll get a solid background in punch needle and create a sampler.

Punch Needle Books

There are a lot, and I mean A LOT, of books about punch needle and punch needle designs available. Honestly it can be a bit overwhelming. The great thing is that no mater what type of punch needle you’re interested in, there’s probably a book aimed at you. The downside is that it is easy to get overwhelmed by the options.

The list of books below doesn’t cover every single punch needle book available, but should help get you started on this hobby if you’re new, or give you some ideas for new directions if you’re an experienced puncher.

Punch Needle Extravaganza!: 27 Projects to Create Paperback by Laetitia Dalbies

If you’re looking for a book full of projects with a strong modern aesthetic, this book is great choice. I wasn’t able to get my hands on a copy, but I may need to as some of the projects look really tempting. I mean, who wouldn’t want to make a punch needle sleep mask!? Amazon/Bookshop

Simply Stitched with Punch Needle: 11 Artful Punch Needle Projects to Embroider with Floss by Yumiko Higuchi 

Ok, I know I wasn’t super in love with using embroidery floss to punch needle in my TCB kit above, but I’d be willing to give it another go given how cute the cover of the book is. The tiny, brightly colored fruit is just too cute to handle. I love it. Amazon/Bookshop

Punch Needle Rug Hooking: Your Complete Resource to Learn & Love the Craft By Amy Oxford

If the idea of making your own rugs appeals to you, this is great place to start. It has full chapters covering all the basics, as well as a handful of projects to practice your skills. I also love that there’s a chapter on cleaning and repair. As someone who lives in a house full of cats that’s frequented by visiting small children, I can’t imagine making a rug without a plan to keep it looking good! Amazon/Bookshop

Intermediate & Advanced Punch Needle Rug Hooking: Techniques, Projects, and Inspirations Amy Oxford and Louise Kulp

This follow up to the above book will guide you through advanced techniques like shading and sculpting. As much as I love a good beginner book, it’s nice to know where to look when I want to move on to the next level! Amazon/Bookshop

Punch Needle: Master the Art of Punch Needling Accessories for You and Your Home by Arounna Khounnoraj

I saw an Instagram post not too long ago that Arounna Khounnoraj’s book Punch Needle: Master the Art of Punch Needling Accessories for You and Your Home is out of print and may soon be hard to get. That’s a shame because it’s a beautiful and well written guide to the art. As of now, it looks like there are still some copies floating around out there at reasonable prices, but if you’re interested, I wouldn’t recommend waiting on this one! Amazon


Have you gotten into punch needle lately? Let me know in the comments below or over on Instagram!