Tutorial: How to make a Punch Needle Pillow

by Lesley Hill September 11, 2019

Tutorial: How to make a Punch Needle Pillow

My friend Danielle (who also makes the sweetest art illustrations for kids), came to one of my punch needle workshops this spring. She had never needle punched before, but brought her own sketch and made this adorable little fox. Doesn’t he have the most thoughtful expression on his face? After Danielle was finishing punching her fox on a stretcher bar frame, she asked me to help her turn her project into a little pillow. I though I’d share the process in a blog post, because people can’t get enough of these plush punch needle projects!

This tutorial will show you how to turn a finished punch needle piece into a plush pillow or stuffie. While I’ve used a square shape in this tutorial, this process is the same for any irregular shape including stuffies like my winter animalsgrapefruit, or evergreen tree.

 For this project you'll need:
- Your completed punch needle piece 
- Backing fabric and interfacing (optional)
- Stuffing (polyester batting or yarn scraps)
- Needle and thread in a coordinating colour
- White glue (optional)
- Sewing machine (optional)
- Iron
- Fabric scissors
- Ruler and marking pen
- Straight pins or clips


Step 1: Cut your square of backing fabric one inch larger than your punch needle piece. For this project, the punched area measured 10” square, so I cut the square of backing fabric to be 11” square. Medium-weight fabric is ideal, but if you fall in love with a light-weight fabric, you can add a layer of fusible interfacing for more structure. I used Essex Linen Blend in Metallic Sand and added woven fusible interfacing to the back.

Punch Needle Plush Tutorial

Step 2: Remove your completed punch needle piece from the frame. You may need to use pliers to loosen the staples if you used a stretcher bar frame. Press the punch needle area with an iron to help it lay flat and to shrink any fibres before you cut out your piece. Be sure to use the appropriate heat setting for the type of yarn.

Punch Needle Fox

Step 3: Using a ruler and marking pen, mark half an inch out from the edges of the punch needle piece. Cut along the marked line with fabric scissors or a rotary cutter. My front piece measured approximately 11" x 11" (including the foundation material border).

Punch Needle Stuffie Tutorial

Step 4: To prevent fraying, finish the cut edges of the monk’s cloth with a zig zag stitch on your sewing machine or by dabbing a small amount of white glue along the cut edge. If using a zig zag stitch, try not to catch any yarn loops in your stitches. If you use glue, allow it to dry before proceeding to the next step.

Punch Needle Pillow Tutorial

Step 5: Lay your backing piece and punch needle piece right sides together. Pin or clip the pieces together to prevent shifting. (Tip: sewing clips are amazing for thick pieces like this!)

Punch Needle Plushie

Step 6: Using a backstitch, sew all the way around the border of your punch needle piece, stitching as close as possible to the last row of needle punched stitches. Try not to catch any yarn loops in the stitches. Along the centre of the bottom edge, leave a five inch opening between the starting and ending points of your stitches being sure to securely knot your thread on either side of the opening. (Tip: If you’re making a smaller stuffie, the opening will be smaller. Leave at least a three inch opening between the starting and ending points of your stitches. If your stuffy has an irregular shape, try to place the opening along a straight or slightly curved area of your shape.)

***A little note about sewing: Even if you’re an experienced sewer, stitching together a punch needle stuffy can be a little frustrating. The yarn makes things bulky, the fabric shifts, and things don’t always line up quite right. I’ve had the best results with hand stitching because I can get nice and close to the outer border of the yarn with my needle and thread. You can certainly use a machine to sew your project, but I suggest using a zipper foot to get in close to the yarn border and stitch sloooowly.

Remember- unless you stitch super close to the edge of the punched area, you will see a border of your foundation material between your needle punched area and the backing fabric, which may or may not be the look you’re going for. Another option if you’re having trouble stitching close to the yarn border, is to chose yarn and a backing fabric in a similar colour to your foundation material when planning your project so that it's not as noticeable if the foundation material shows.***

Hand sewing your punch needle stuffy

Step 7 (optional): To reduce bulkiness, use fabric scissors to trim the excess seam allowance from the backing fabric being careful not to cut into your stitches at the corners. Don’t trim the monk’s cloth foundation (to avoid fraying), and leave the seam allowance along the opening untrimmed as well (this will make stitching the stuffy closed easier).

Punch needle pillow- trimming seam allowance

Step 8: Turn the stuffie right side out by pulling it through the opening. You may need to use a long object such as a knitting needle to make sure the corners are fully turned out. With your iron, press the seam allowance of the backing fabric half an inch towards the wrong side. Insert the stuffing through the opening, pushing the batting into all four corners.

Punch Needle Stuffie Tutorial

Step 9: Pin or clip the opening closed, then sew closed using a ladder stitch.

Punch Needle Plushie- Stitching closed

That’s it- all done! Little hands will love to cuddle this guy. 

Winter 2022 Update: I made this pillow larger by sewing a fabric border around my punch needle piece before attaching it to the pillow backing fabric. Find the pattern for my punch needle pilea plant here.

Punch Needle Pilea Plant Pillow

Want to make your own pillow? Try my bunny or penguin pattern and check out my punch needle FAQ post for more info. Learn more about getting started with your punch needle here. Thanks for reading!

Punch Needle Fox Pillow

Lesley Hill
Lesley Hill


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