Punch embroidery is so beautiful that from a distance it can actually resemble an oil painting. If you already know how to create punch embroidery, you know how easy and versatile this type of needlework can be. If you don't know how to embroider using a punch needle, it's time to learn.
What Is Punch Embroidery?
Punch embroidery, popular in the 1960s and 1970s, is making a big comeback. Though many believe punch embroidery originated in Sweden, this early form of needle artwork was being used by the ancient Egyptians as early as the 1700s. Egyptians are the ones credited with using hollow bones from the wings of birds as the first punch embroidery needles.
In its heyday, punch embroidery gained popularity as a form of decoration for clothing, especially religious garments. Today, punch embroidery is used to embellish many things, including clothing, tablecloths and household accessories.
Getting Started with Punch Embroidery
Punch embroidery is created by using a special tool or needle that is beveled or angled at the eye end and pointed at the opposite end. A punch embroidery needle is unique in that the shaft of the needle is hollow. This type of embroidery or needlework is very similar to rug-hooking, but can be created using any type of thread.
Very fine detail and intricate images can be achieved through punch embroidery, so the end result is often detailed and beautiful. To create masterpieces with punch embroidery, a variety of different needle sizes, thread thicknesses and loop lengths can be used.
Much of the punch embroidery being created today uses rubber stamp designs or cross-stitch patterns. Fabric with a looser weave will work best. Start by stamping the design onto the fabric, pressing it to set the ink, and then carefully placing the fabric into an embroidery hoop to stretch it. Start with a 4" hoop, which is easier to control. Once you have the fabric in the embroidery hoop taut, it's time to get your punch needle out and begin working the threads in and out of the fabric over the design.
With punch embroidery, you will be working from the backside of the fabric. You will always hold your needle like a pencil, with the eye at a right angle to the fabric. The beveled side of the needle should always be facing the direction you are moving. If necessary, mark the beveled side so that you can easily see which end is which. Each punch you make should be straight down through the fabric.
To embellish punch embroidery, you can add pearls or beads as you work. While it is not necessary, interfacing can be stitched to the backside of the fabric to make it stiffer and easier to work.
Supplies for punch embroidery can be purchased at most craft stores. To begin your first project, you will need a punch needle, threads, fabric and a pattern or design. Since needles come in a variety of sizes, you may wish to pick up an entire set and experiment with a variety of fabric types and floss thicknesses before you settle on a favorite.