Tutorial: How to Punch Needle

by Lesley Hill January 13, 2020

Tutorial: How to Punch Needle

So you’ve bought yourself a punch needle and are ready to get started. Wohoo - welcome to the wonderful world of punch needle rug hooking! This tutorial will cover the basics of getting started with your punch needle including threading your needle and making stitches. Looking for more info? Check out my FAQ about punch needle and my favourite resources for beginners.

Threading your Punch Needle

To thread the needle, start by holding the needle so the side with the slot is facing up. Push the yarn through the metal hole at the tip, then pull the yarn through until the yarn rests in the slot of the punch needle. Pull it back and forth a few times to make sure it flows easily through. Leave the yarn tail hanging out by an inch or two, and unwind a bit of the yarn from the roll so it’s nice and loose as you start to punch. 

How to thread your punch needle

Starting to Stitch

With punch needle, it's best to begin by outlining your main shapes before filling them in. Try to choose a straight or almost-straight line to start punching. I prefer to hold my punch needle the way I hold a pencil, but do what feels most comfortable to you. 

To start, insert the punch needle all the way down into the cloth with the slot side of the needle facing the direction you’re stitching. For your first stitch, make sure to pull the yarn tail through the cloth so it is hanging out the back side of the canvas. Hold onto the yarn tail with your other hand as you pull the punch needle out, so that you don’t accidentally pull the yarn out with the needle. You only need to hold onto the yarn tail at the back for the first stitch.

Starting your punch needle stitches

Next, gently glide your punch needle a few holes over and repeat the process. Try not to lift the needle up off the fabric in between stitches. Just skim the needle over the top of the cloth until you get to the next hole. Make sure that you push the needle all the way down into the foundation material with each stitch, so that the wood handle touches the material.

Keep repeating the process, turning your canvas as you go so that the slot in the punch needle always faces the direction you’re punching in. After you've outlined the shape to be punched, fill in the shape by spiralling inwards. 

Making stitches with your punch needle

Ending your Stitches

To stop stitching, push the threaded punch needle all the way down into the cloth. Turn the frame over so the back is facing up, and cut the yarn between the tip of the needle and the cloth. Hold onto the yarn tail as you pull out the punch needle, so that you don’t accidentally pull out the yarn tail with the needle. Trim the yarn tail so it’s flush with the surrounding loops. 

How to punch needle- ending your stitches

That’s it- that’s all there is to making stitches with your punch needle. Keep in mind that this process is the same whether you’re creating flat stitches (the grey circle in the image below) or loop stitches (the beige circle). The only difference is whether you're punching from the front of your piece for a flat, smooth look or from the back for a plush, loopy look.

While punch needle is simple to do, it does take time and practice at the beginning to get your stitches just the way you like them. Have patience with yourself and remember to take a break if you’re feeling frustrated.

Looking for an easy pattern to start with? Download my free evergreen or grapefruit pattern or purchase a kit (like my bunny or penguin wall-hanging) with everything you need to get started. Have fun and happy punching!

Punch needle tutorial- flat and loop stitches

Lesley Hill
Lesley Hill


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Covid-19 Update: Punch needle orders are shipping within 1-3 business days, but expect delays with postal delivery and customs clearances.