Let's start with the needle. There are many different needles on the market. There are needles shaped like the traditional Russian punch needle - that is a hollow needle coming from a short tube. The brass handled needles are this type of needle. There are also various modern variations on the needle with mechanical mechanisms that will change the length of the loop that is made (gauge). The Cameo needle is this type of needle, as are others. Needles come in different sizes. The size is the width of the needle that will result in the number of strands of thread that will fit through the needle and the size of the hole that is made in the fabric when the needle is punched through. While one two to three strand needle will do many projects, some patterns require several needles to achieve the effects of the pattern. There are six strand needles that will punch four to six strands of thread and some small ribbons. There are one strand needles that punch just one strand of thread that will punch fine details in a pattern. It is possible to punch one strand with some two to three strand needles on weaver's cloth which will close up nicely around the larger hole to capture the stitch. It is often cheaper to purchase a set of needles than purchase the needles individually. Most needle companies offer discounted sets.
The next thing needed is a hoop. Punch needle embroidery requires that the fabric be very tightly hooped. When the fabric is in the hoop you should hear a drum sound when you flick the fabric lightly with you finger. The hoop that is required is a hoop with a small lip on the inner ring. This is not a hard hoop to find. It is a hoop for general embroidery and cross stitch. It will not say anything about punch needle on the package. Just look at the inner ring for the little lip sticking out. The Susan Bates Hoopla hoops found at Wal-mart, A.C. Moore, and many craft and sewing shops are this type of hoop and come in assorted sizes and pretty colors. A six or seven inch hoop is a good hoop to start with. They come larger and smaller. You want a hoop that will completely encircle the pattern with room around the sides. New on the market is a very different hoop - a design borrowed from rug punching. This hoop is actually a frame with strips of tiny needles on the sides. The fabric is stretched over the frame and gripped tightly in place by the needles. Many needle punchers find this an easier way to hoop their fabric and claim that it improves their end results. The Hoopla hoop will get you started and it is inexpensive.
Then you will need a punch needle kit. This includes the pattern pre-printed on cloth, a photo to follow, and complete instructions for the pattern. You will get everything EXCEPT the floss. You will get a list of the floss that you need to purchase on your own. Our patterns use DMC floss which is sold in almost every craft and sewing store, as well as some of the discount stores. One of the nicest things about all of packages is that if you do not like the colors that we have chosen you can change them to different color flosses of you choice. If you purchase a pattern only package you are not getting the cloth and you need to transfer the design to your own cloth. Weavers cloth is the best for punching. See below for instructions on how to transfer a pattern.
NOW TO BEGIN...
You are going to want to print out this page!
HOOP YOUR FABRIC -
The first step is to hoop your fabric. Take your hoop and unscrew the screw almost to the end. Seperate the two rings. Put the inner ring down flat on a table. Place your fabric with the pattern showing face up on the smaller (inner) ring with the lip. Center the pattern on the ring. Open the outer ring and push it gently over the inner ring and fabric. Push down and you will hear the lip snap under the outer ring. Tighten the screw most of the way - but not tight, yet. Pick up the hoop and start to pull the fabric gently to tighten it in the hoop. Pull at the two sides together first, then top and bottom. Try not to distort the shape of the pattern - you will be able to tell by looking at the border sides. As you stretch, tighten the screw. When you tap the fabric it should sound like a little drum. Tighten the screw down all of the way. Some say that the round hoop will become oval when it is tightened properly - I think that is too tight and the pattern is distorted. If the hoop becomes an oval and the pattern has no distortion then fine, but if it is distorted, lessen the tension a little and straighten it out while still keeping that little beat. (This is why people like the gripper type frames - the fabric is gripped tight without the pulling and tugging and with no distortion.)
PREPARE YOUR NEEDLE -
Now you will prepare your needle. The length of the loops that you punch is determined by how long a needle is passed through the fabric. To make shorter loops some needles use a peice of tube slipped over the needle to shorten the length. Other needles have a mechanical device that will make the needle longer or shorter. In your instructions this will be referred to as GAUGE. The smaller the gauge, the smaller the loop. The gauge is measured from the eye of the needle to the end of the tube or on the mechanical needles, the end of needle where it enters the handle. The size of the loop will measure half the measurement of the gauge. A detailed, illustrated instruction page is included with each Pop Goes The Needle pattern or kit that explains all about setting the gauge on your needle. Set the gauge to the measurement specified in you pattern. You may change the gauge several times during one pattern if the pattern uses a mix of long and short loops.
PREPARE YOUR THREAD-
Next you will prepare the thread. The floss comes with six strands twisted together. You are going to separate the strands to the number needed for the stitches in each section of the pattern. You are going separate one strand at a time and then put them back together when you use multiple strands. Cut a length of floss about three to five feet long. If it is a small section cut less. Keep in mind that this length will give you from one to six times what you will need (1 strand to 6 strands). Take the cut length of the color floss that you need and hold it by one end right at the tip with your thumb and forefinger. Give it a tap on the top with a finger and you will see the strands flower out. Take hold of one strand and now, hold the floss in the other hand between your thumb and forefinger. Pull that strand gently up and out. Do not hold too tightly on the floss and watch for snags or tangles. Keep pulling until you have the single strand completely out of the floss. Pull out as many single strands as you need for the stitch - the instructions will specify how many. Do not attempt to pull out more than one strand at a time as it will tangle and knot. If the stitch calls for two strands, take two strands and place them together.
THREADING THE NEEDLE -
Now you are going to thread your needle. Every punch needle comes with a needle threader. It is a long, fine, twisted wire. Some have paper or plastic disks on one end, others are just wire. The traditional punch needle usually comes with the plain wire threader. There is an easy way to thread these brass needles. Start by placing the straight end of the threader (the end without the small loop) into the handle of the needle. Don't try to find the hollow of the needle. Just let it sit in the handle. Now, give the handle a few taps with your fingernail - just like the docs do on the medical shows with a hypodermic. You will see the threader find the hollow of the needle on it's own and plop right in. The end of the threader will fall down and out the tip of the needle - leaving the loop end still sticking out the top. Just take your strands of floss (together) and pass the end through the loop. Pull a few inches out the other end of the loop. Give the thread a little pull up into the top, smaller loop. Now, pull the straight end of the threader that is coming out the needle's tip and bring the thread down and through the needle until the threader is all of the way out. If there is a snag, stop - something is stuck. This should move smoothly through. Check for knots in the thread. Check that you are not trying to pass six threads through a three strand needle. This is just the FIRST step.
Next, you must pass the thread through the eye of the needle - the needle will not punch the stitch unless the eye of the needle is threaded - and in the right direction. Look at the tip of your needle. You will see a small scoop and a hole. The scoop is the FRONT of the needle. With the thread still in the threader, pass the small loop of the threader with the thread into the scoop and through the hole and out the back.
If you are using a threader that is just a wire with no "handle tab" you can use either end of the threader to go through the eye - it is easier to use the straight end. Once the thread is through, grasp the thread and pull it out of the threader. At this point, leave a few inches of thread hanging down from the tip of the needle.
Some needles such as the Cameo type needles and those needles with the threaders with the paper tag handles must have the threader's first go from the tip of the needle and up through and out of the handle. This is done by passing the small loop of the threader (with no thread) into the tip and through the hollow of the needle. Once the loop is out of the handle you can follow same directions as above to thread the needle - pass the thread through, bring it with the threader back down and out of the tip, and then thread the tip by removing the thread from the threader - pass the tip of the threader through the eye of the needle, from the non-bevel side to the bevel side, place the thread in the threader, and pull it through.
When you are finished the thread goes through the top of the handle of the needle, down into the needle, out the tip of the needle, and through the eye of the needle from the bevel side and out the back. Leave two or three inches of thread hanging from the back of the needle, at this point. Always remember - threading is a two step process - don't forget to thread the EYE of the needle.
Want to learn to thread a long threader in ONE STEP? See Below!
NOW YOU ARE READY TO PUNCH...
Take the punch needle in you hand between your thumb and forefinger. Do not hold it as you would a pencil or pen. It should be held straight up and down. Drape the thread coming out of the handle over the back of the hand holding the needle. The thread must move freely and NOT GET CAUGHT on anything. Check that it is not caught under an arm, leg, edge of the chair, edge of the table, etc. Pull the end of the thread coming out of the handle carefully to shorten the length of thread coming from the tip of the needle. The length should be one to two inches. Pick up your hoop in your other hand. You are going to punch the outline of a section of the pattern first.
Place the needle down on the fabric where you will make your first stitch. Make sure that the scoop of the needle is facing in the same direction as you are going to punch. (Some mark the handle of their punch needle so that they always know where the front (scoop) of the needle is - a small dot of paint or nail polish works well. Some needles now come marked when you get them.) Here we go - PUSH the needle down into the fabric as far as it will go - it will stop on the end of the tube or the end of the needle depending on the type of needle that you are using. POP! You should hear that sound. Gently pull the needle back up through the fabric, but as soon as you are through stop! Do not lift the needle off of the fabric.
As soon as you come through the fabric, drag the tip of the needle to the next stitch - which is right in front of the stitch that you just made and punch down through the fabric again. POP! You are punching! Take a look at the other side of the hoop. You will see a small loop which is your first stitch and the tip of your needle and thread ready to form your next stitch. Flip it back over and withdraw the needle again - and again do not lift the tip off of the cloth. Keep following the line of the printed outline on the fabric and punch. POP! POP! POP Goes the Needle!
As you follow the line, turn the hoop as you go. Always make sure that you are punching with the front of the needle in the direction that you are going. If you do not your stitches will pull out. After a few stitches take a VERY sharp, pointy pair of embroidery scissors and snip off the tail left by the first stitch. Be careful not pull on this tail or you will pull stitches out.
ENDING A THREAD OR CHANGING COLORS -
If you are getting to the end of the thread in the needle, with the needle in the fabric from the last punch, put your finger on the fabric where the needle has entered and push gently down on the stitch that is last formed, holding that stitch from pulling out. Pull the needle slowly out of the fabric without letting go of that stitch. Let an inch or two of the thread come from the tip of the needle, place the needle down, and snip off the thread right at the fabric. Your work should have no tails coming out of the fabric that you can see. Re-thread your needle and start punching again right after the last stitch.
FILLING IN A PATTERN AREA -
When you finish the outline you are going to fill in the middle of the area. Move the needle over, next to the last stitch, about distance of the width of your needle. The needle is very thin, so this may need to be closer than you think. Punch the next row following that distance from the first row. You will do this every time you need to move in to fill in more rows. As you get comfortable, you will do swirls, circles, waves to fill in to create interesting effects with the thread. The larger the loops that you are making, the more the area will be filled in. Do not punch your rows too close together or your finished peice will pull into the center.
When you finish an area, re-thread the needle with another color thread and repeat, as above.
FIXING MISTAKES (You will rarely have them!) -
If you need to pull an area out you can do so. Weavers Cloth is very forgiving in this way and the holes will close up. Do not use the same piece of thread to re-punch. Use new strands of thread.
FOLLOWING THE PATTERN -
Follow the instructions of your pattern for the order to punch the areas. When you have finished the pattern, hold the hoop up to the light and look through the front of your work. If you see holes, put a few stitches in those areas to fill in. Flip the work over to the front, finished side. If any loops or threads are sticking up beyond the rest, just clip them even with the rest with your scissors.
Take you work out of the hoop and frame it or finish it any way you like. There is NO NEED to do anything to the back. The stitches will stay in without glue or any backing. You can even wash it- the stitches will tighten even more after washing. (If you wash it just becareful that the color floss does not bleed. DMC says it is color fast, but red does tend to run.)
You can finish by framing the piece with the cloth around it by gently steam ironing away the hoop marks (be careful near your loops not to iron them down). Then stretch your embroidery over a piece of mat board, attach it to the back either with heavy masking tape or stitch it, side to side and top to bottom. Mount in a frame and you are done. Don't cover the embroidery with glass. You want to see those loops and not flatten them down.
You can also cut your embroidery out of the cloth and mount it on a contrasting cloth. To do this just cut the embroidery out of the backing cloth leaving one half inch all around. Fold this allowance to the back and stitch it top to bottom and side to side. You could also VERY CAREFULLY glue this back with a fabric glue, but use the glue sparingly. You you may mount this to a complimentary fabric - wool or flannel works well. Mount your work by stitching it down at the edges using one strand of the the same color floss that was used for the loops at the edge of your work - this way the stitching will dissappear. When stitched you may see some of the backing fabric peeking through at the edge - you could cover this with a piece of cord that matches or contrasts the edge. Now you are ready to mount and frame the work - just as was done above.
You could even applique your embroidery to a garment or bag. Follow the same steps as above, cutting the embroidery out of the cloth and finishing the edges.Stitch it down where you like.
See it was not as hard as you thought and in a few hours you have a work of art that is your creation!
HOW TO THREAD YOUR LONG-STYLE PUNCHNEEDLE WITH A LONG NEEDLE THREADER IN ONE STEP
Long handled punchneedles, like the Cameo, the Super Luxo, Dimensions, and others come with a long needle threader with a paper tag glued to one end. These needle threaders require that you thread your punchneedle in two steps. With a simple modification it is easy to use that needle threader to thread your punchneedle in ONE STEP.
First, gently peel off that paper tag. You will be left with the wire needle threader that is basically a long wire bent completely in half and with the two ends that now want to spread out. This is exactly what you want. On some needle threader there is a twist in the bent end. That is there to catch the floss. With or without the twist you are fine.
You are next going to use this to thread your needle.
Take your needle threader - with NO floss in it and hold it together in your fingers near the bent end. Insert that folded end into the bottom point of your punchneedle and up into the needle until the threader appears out of the top of the needle. You cannot push it in too far. Now you have the folded end of your threader showing out of the top of your needle. The loop of the folded wire will open enough so that you can pass your floss end through. Allow several inches to hang through the threader.
SO FAR THIS IS EXACTLY THE SAME AS YOU HAVE BEEN USING THESE THREADERS ALL ALONG!
If there is still threader wires showing through the point of your needle just grasp them and pull the threader down and out of your needle, gently. If when you inserted the threader it pushed up and into the needle and you no longer see it - NO PROBLEM. Just smoothly push the threader down from the top - don't lose the floss - and when you see the wires come out of the needle tip grasp them and pull the needle threader completely out of the needle.
MAKE SURE THAT YOUR FLOSS DOES NOT FALL OUT OF THE THREADER.Hold the floss in the threader and pull the threader away from your needle for several inches - maybe seven or eight inches, at least.
NOW COMES THE DIFFERENT PART!
Keeping the floss in the threader grasp the two loose wires at the bottom of the threader and hold them together - not at the tip because you need the tip.Take those wires held together and pass them through the eye of your punchneedle - bevel side facing the threader and push the threader all the way through. The threader will pull the floss through the eye of the needle.
NEVER BEND THE THREADER IN ANY PART OF THIS PROCESS. IT IS NOT NECESSARY. IF YOU FIND THAT YOU ARE BENDING THE THREADER TO MAKE IT REACH THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE YOU DO NOT HAVE ENOUGH FLOSS COMING THROUGH YOUR NEEDLE TO ALLOW YOU DO TO THIS PROPERLY. STOP AND PULL MORE FLOSS THROUGH OR YOU WILL DAMAGE YOUR NEEDLE.
TA DAA! You are threaded.
Do this a few times and all of these steps will become automatic. You will be able to do this without even thinking about it.
HOW TO TRANSFER PATTERNS
It is easy to transfer a pattern from paper to cloth- here are a few ways.
Remember that you need to reverse the pattern on the cloth BECAUSE you are punching from the BACK. This applies to METHOD 1. The easiest way to do this is to flip the paper pattern to the back and using a thin marking pen or pencil, put the paper on a light source (a light table* or tape it to a window), trace the design from the front to the back of the paper and you are set. If you have a downloaded pattern there is an easier way. Open the pattern in any photo or picture software. Windows comes with one included. Use the software to mirror image the pattern. Print it out and you are ready to get it on cloth.
Take your paper pattern (now reversed) and place it under the fabric on a light table* or tape both to a window in daylight. Use a fine black marker and carefully trace the pattern to the cloth. Check that all the lines have been traced and you are ready to hoop.
METHOD 2 SELF-REVERSING...NO REVERSING NECESSARY
Take your paper pattern and use a transfer marker or transfer pencil (found at sewing stores, craft stores, fabric stores, and Wal-Mart) to trace over the lines right on the original paper pattern. Transfer markers make broad lines so be very careful with detail areas. The pencil will give a more crisp, thin line, but is harder to see. Now place that pattern on top of the cloth and with a hot iron press down on the pattern and cloth. Do not move the iron as if you are ironing - just press, lift and move. Put pressure - no steam. Moving the iron across will blur the lines. When you are sure that you have covered every area, lift one corner to see that you havc made the transfer. If not, go back and press some more. All transferred - all done.
METHOD 3 SELF-REVERSING...NO REVERSING NECESSARY
If you have a laser printer - print your pattern on regular printer paper with the regular laser cartridge. Take your printed pattern and place it face down on the cloth. Take a hot iron and press it down on the paper. I have found that moving the iron in this case does not blur the pattern to any extent. Put a lot of pressure and get every part of the pattern hot. Carefully lift one corner and check that the transfer has been made. It is harder with this method to place the pattern back down on the cloth to get it properly aligned to press again, so do a good job the first time. The result will be a light transfer but it is good enough to see to punch. There are special laser cartridges that contain special transfer toner. These will give an excellent transfer, but are expensive. If you do not mind the lighter transfer, a regular laser cartridge works fine.
*HOW TO MAKE A CHEAP LIGHT BOX
Small light boxes can be found at craft stores for around $25 but for a few dollars you can make a suitable substitute so that you can trace when there is no daylight in your windows. Go to an office supply store or discount store and buy a clear acrylic clip board. Get the completely clear one - not the clear, color-tinted ones. Take your pattern and cloth and clip them together in the clipboard. Hold the clipboard up to a bright lamp and start tracing. Works great!
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