Punch Needle Embroidery: A Complete Beginner's Guide

Punch Needle Embroidery: A Beginner's Guide

More and more craft enthusiasts are discovering this wonderful embroidery technique: punch needle! And that’s not without good reason because it is highly addictive. It’s super fun to do and you can use it to create stunning works of art on canvas with great ease. Discover everything you need to know to get started with this technique. We’ll take you through the basics, how it works, what tools you need and inspire you with beautiful examples. 

Needle punching allows you to transform canvas into gorgeous masterpieces. And thanks to the increased popularity of this technique, we’re seeing more and more punch needle products on the market. How exciting! Rico has published dedicated punch needle magazines and the selection of punch tools and yarn available is truly extensive. And not only can you find all your punch needle supplies at Yarnplaza.com, but we’re also more than happy to help you get started on your punch needle journey. So, read on and explore all this popular technique has to offer!

What is punch needle embroidery?

Punch needle, or needle punch, is a special embroidery technique which uses a (hollow) punch needle to pierce thread or yarn through fabric, then when you pull the needle back out the cloth, it leaves a loop of thread on the other side. By repeating this action, you ‘draw’ across the fabric, creating patterns or pictures or lettering. You can either punch long loops (for a fluffy effect) or smooth, flat stitches (great for small figures or fine details). By mixing up different types of yarn (think colors, material, thickness), you can create all sorts of surprising and playful effects. In other words, you can let your imagination run free and enjoy endless experiments with needle punching!

What all can you needle punch?

Punch Needle Inspiration

Whatever your imagination can come up with! You could, of course, keep things simple and leave your punch needle work in your embroidery hoop to hang up as a picture on the wall. But there are also plenty more colorful and unique home decorations and accessories you could use it for. You could needle punch cheerful motifs on sofa cushions, wall hangings, chair covers, bags, soft toys, pendants, clothing… and so much more!

How does needle punching work?

Our colleague, Monique (you may know her as the designer of our Dream Blankets), has been bitten by punch needle bug and is now our very own in-house expert. So, we asked her to take us step-by-step through the punching process:

  • Stretch your canvas

    Before you can start needle punching, you need a tight canvas to work with. You get this by stretching a piece of cloth or canvas in an embroidery hoop.
    TIP: Use a screwdriver to really tighten the hoop well so the fabric stays in place and doesn’t slide out. Fancy a different shape or size? No problem! You can stretch the fabric over a square or rectangular picture or embroidery frame, for example. The key thing to remember is to stretch it tightly and securely!

  • Add your drawing/pattern

    Draw your design on paper, print one out or choose one from the brilliant Rico Punch Needle magazines. Cut the paper with your pattern to the same size and shape of your embroidery hoop. Place the pattern on the ‘right’ side (i.e. on the display side of your artwork) and secure it in place with some tape. Hold it up against a window or place on a light box and trace the pattern with a fabric marker or pencil.

  • Thread the punch needle with your chosen yarn

    Use the needle threader that comes with your tool to thread it with your chosen yarn. Make sure you leave a long tail of yarn sticking out. TIP: Not sure what yarn to choose? We’ve put together a guide to choosing the perfect punch needle yarn here.

  • Pick your stitch

    You need know which side is the ‘right’ side (the side of your finished piece that will be on display) and then you need to decide what kind of stitches you want. If you want nice big loops on the right side, then turn your work over and punch your stitches from the wrong side. This will create loops on the right side and smooth flat stitches on the wrong side of your work. If, however, you prefer the look of the smooth stitches and want a more 2D effect, then punch from the right side instead. That will leave the loops on the side that won’t be visible. Or combine the two, turning your work over depending on the result you want for each section.

  • Start punching

    Make sure you hold the punch needle nice and straight. Push the needle through your fabric and pull it back out, but without picking the needle off the fabric. Just glide it along to punch your next stitch. The fabric’s tension holds the stitches in place. Repeat these steps until your artwork is complete. To finish, cut your yarn and coat the back of your work with textile glue to make sure everything stays securely in place. You could also weave in and fasten off the start and end tails with a wool needle.

Rico Punch Needle Magazines

Punch needle books

Needing some punch needle inspiration? Then look no further than these fun magazines from Rico.

  • Rico Punch Needle No. 1 (1)
    Rico has launched a series of punch needle magazines which they are adding to all the time. They began with this fun magazine which features 11 cheerful patterns with floral themes. The multilingual (German / English / French) patterns are clearly explained and use the popular Rico punch needles and yarn.
  • Rico Punch Needle No. 2 Bunny Hop (2)
    This is Rico’s latest punch needle magazine, inspired by spring and Easter. The 17 unique patterns featuring cute bunnies, lambs and colorful flowers will have you itching to start punching and bring spring indoors. The embroidered designs are created using a finer punch needle on cute mini embroidery hoops and frames. The animal figures are made using a larger punch needle and thicker yarn, such as the Essentials Soft Merino and Mega Wool.

What all do you need to needle punch?

Punch needle requirements

Punch needle:
  • Rico punch needle large (5 mm) 
    A large punch needle (19 cm long) with needle threader that’s suitable for punching with chunkier yarn. This needle is 5 mm thick and has 4 easily adjustable positions for punching different lengths of stitches, depending on whether you want longer or shorter loops. Yarn: The chunky Rico Mega Merino and Rico Soft Merino Aran have been specially designed for use with this particular punch needle. You could use other yarn suitable for a 5 mm punch needle instead. Go for yarn with a sturdy but supple thread.
  • Large punch needle (5 mm)
    This thick needle works just like the previous one, only with a slightly different casing.
  • Rico punch needle with 3 interchangeable needle tips
    This set comes with a small punch needle (13 cm long) and 3 interchangeable needle tips in different sizes (1.3 mm, 1.6 mm and 2.2 mm) and 2 needle threaders. The length of the needle, and therefore the loops it creates, can easily be adjusted. Yarn: This needle is suitable for punching with thin yarn and embroidery floss. You could also use Rico Creative Sport dk with this needle.
  • Clover punch needle
    The Clover punch needle is suitable for thinner yarn and comes with a handy needle threader that helps you to thread your yarn easily through the needle. There are 4 different refill needles available separately for this needle, from very thin to 5 mmYarn: Use thin yarn and embroidery floss with this needle. The precise thickness of yarn to use depends on the thickness of your refill needle.

Embroidery Hoops and Frames

Embroidery hoop / frame

These sturdy wooden embroidery hoops and frames are useful for holding your fabric under tension while you punch. The hoops and frames come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. You could display your finished piece in the hoop or frame or use these wooden poster holders to hang your punched canvas or cloth. So many fun options for framing your masterpiece! Check out all the products here.

Canvas / fabric / cloth
Other tools and materials:

Go to shop!

Punch needle kits

Rico Punch Needle No. 1 Kits

We’ve chosen 8 of our favorite patterns from the Rico Punch Needle No. 1 magazine and put together complete kits for them! The wonderful use of color, the variety of techniques, the fine yarns and lovely motifs make for really beautiful creations! These sunny, cheerful home decor designs are really eye-catching. The kits come with all the yarn you need, a luxurious punch needle canvas and the magazine which contains the relevant pattern. Explore all our punch needle kits here. Which kit is your favorite?

Rico Punch Needle No. 2 Bunny Hop Kits

We’ve also selected the best patterns from the spring 2020 Rico Punch Needle No. 2 Bunny Hop magazine to create complete kits just for you! Explore all the punch needle kits here! Which kit is your favorite?


Have lots of fun with this technique!
And hopefully we’ve inspired you to punch some brilliant projects. We’d love to see your masterpieces, so please share them with us via our Facebook page or Instagram with #yarnplaza.

Leave a Reply

Please wait...