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Punch Needle Thread and Supplies

To try the needle punch embroidery method, you need to know what kind of punch needle thread to look for and what other supplies to find, such as needles, fabric, and hoops.

Punch Needles

Needles come in three common sizes:

  • Small -– 1 strand of floss or #12 pearl cotton
  • Medium -– 2 or 3 stands of floss or #8 pearl cotton
  • Large –- 6 strands of floss, #5 pearl cotton, or 2mm ribbon

There is also a special rug size needle that uses 3 or 4 ply yarn (baby/sport weight or worsted weight). It's harder to find.

I own a Ultra Punch Cameo 3 Needle Set. I like it because it came with two needle threaders and three interchangeable needles in the different sizes to accept various punch needle threads. It's very easy to use.

The size needle will affect the spacing of your loops since thicker strands require more space between them. Some needles, like Cameo, also have a gauge to determine the loop size for Russian punch needle.

Punch Needle Thread

As stated above, you can use typical 6 strand embroidery floss or perle cotton as punch needle thread. You can use yarn on large pieces with a rug needle. Bunka requires special rayon knit cording that is unraveled to the desired thickness just before stitching.

For Bunka, do not overstretch the rayon. It should only be pulled until it forms what looks like a single crochet chain. Be careful that your nail does not run along it (as you do with scissors for curling ribbon) or it will remove the natural curl.

Fabric

Do not use stretchy fabric or something too thick such as denim. The fabric needs to be tight enough to close back in around and secure the punch needle thread somewhat after you've removed the needle.

A 50% cotton, 50% polyester blend known as Weavers Cloth is ideal. DMC manufactures Weavers Cloth now. Charles Craft recommends their 22 count Hardanger or their Irish Linen in 20, 28, or 32 count. Large work with a rug needle can be done on Monks Cloth.

For Bunka, a 100% polyester fabric can work even better, but it must not be stretchy.

Hooping or Framing

You absolutely must have a strong hoop or frame for punch needle thread. The fabric should be as tight as a drum as you work so that you hear the needle pop. A good frame will hold your fabric tight without pulling it unevenly to cause distortion in your design. Personally, I use Susan Bates Hoop-La Embroidery Hoops since they have the grip lip.

Some people like to make their own special frame.

Make a Sturdy Frame

  1. Make the inside frame dimensions 1/8th larger than the size of your pattern. In other words, multiply the length by 1.125 to calculate what the inner frame length should be. Repeat to find the width. This will give you room to work to the edge of the pattern.
  2. Use a soft wood such as pine because you will be sticking tacks in it later. Nail or glue the wood together.
  3. Pin the fabric with your pattern outline onto the frame using thumbtacks. Follow the order pictured below to ensure that the fabric stretches evenly and without distortion. Tacks should be spaced an inch apart. Pull tightly and strech the fabric before placing each tack.
punch needle or bunka frame tacking or pinning order

Tacking or Pinning Steps

  1. Place a tack at points A and B.
  2. Pin along row 1.
  3. Do point C.
  4. Row 2.
  5. Point D.
  6. Row 3.
  7. Point E.
  8. Row 4.

You can test whether the fabric is drum tight by sitting a quarter on it. If the coin causes any sagging, tighten the fabric.

...or you can buy an awesome frame that swivels!

Round-About Punch Needle Frame-

This Round-About Punch Needle Frame makes punching safer, so you're less likely to stab yourself, and it helps reduce eyestrain. It also reduces hand and arm tension. The best part is that it's designed for punchneedle, so it has a nice tight grip on the fabric!

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