Ready to start making punch needle art? First, you’ll need to gather the best punch needle supplies and tools!
If you are wondering what punch needle supplies to buy, look no further! Keep reading to learn all about my top recommended punch needle tools, plus my favorite fabric, frames, hoops, and rug yarn.
Punch Needle Supplies
Have you tried punch needle yet? Punch needle embroidery (also called punch needle rug hooking) is a fun and fast fiber art that’s great for crafters of all ages.
Once you learn the basic technique, punch needle feels like “painting with yarn”, or coloring in a coloring book. Check out this guide to learn all about how to punch needle for beginners.
One of the things I love most about punch needle is that you only need a handful of supplies to get started. It’s very accessible to beginners, as well as people who don’t have a lot of precious storage space to devote to craft supplies.
There are just a few things you need to get started with punch needle:
- a punch needle tool
- a few colors of yarn
- foundation fabric
- and a frame to hold it all together.
I created this resource guide to help new punch needle artists shop around for supplies.
Alternatively, you can save time and money by purchasing a complete punch needle kit that includes all of the materials you need to complete a project. If that sounds interesting to you, be sure to check out this list of the best punch needle kits.
Note: This article discusses the materials you’ll need for punch needle rug hooking — that is, the style of punch needle embroidery done with yarn and a larger gauge tool. (There is a similar craft, also called punch needle, that’s done with a thinner needle tool and embroidery floss.)
My Favorite Punch Needle Tool
The first item you’ll want to look for is the punch needle tool, itself.
A punch needle is a very simple tool. Basically, it is a type of hollow needle that, when threaded with yarn, punches loops of yarn through fabric. With skill and imagination, you can use this simple tool to make beautiful and complex designs.
There are a few different brands of punch needle tools on the market, but they all have the same basic design.
The tool is constructed from a hollow metal needle with a large eye through which to thread the yarn. Some have thinner plastic handles, some have larger wooden handles. Some tools have a fixed length, some have adjustable depth gauges.
My favorite punch needle tool is made by Amy Oxford. It has a thick, ergonomic wooden handle, and works with many types of fibers.
The Amy Oxford tool comes in two widths: one for bulky weight yarn and one for worsted weight yarn.
It also comes in several different lengths for making different size loops. For example, a #8 needle makes loops that are 1/2″ tall. A #10 needle makes loops that are 1/4″ tall.
A less expensive option: If you are looking for a less expensive punch needle tool that you can experiment with before upgrading to the Oxford tool, check out this punch needle tool. The handle is plastic and it’s not quite as easy to thread, but it’s a well-liked, less expensive choice.
The Best Fabric for Punch Needle
The next item you’ll need is a foundation fabric.
I get so many questions about the right type of fabric to use for punch needle embroidery — and I completely understand the confusion about this topic.
Monk’s cloth is my favorite type of foundation fabric for punch needle, and it’s what I recommend to beginners.
Monk’s cloth is a type of woven fabric made of 100% cotton. It’s sturdy, yet flexible.
Monk’s cloth is available in a few different sizes, or “counts”. The fabric count of the weave is measured by how many threads there are per inch. The most common counts in Monk’s Cloth are 7-count and 12-count.
For punch needle, choose a monk’s cloth with approximately 12 double threads (24 individual threads) per inch.
But here’s the tricky part! Most craft stores carry a type of monk’s cloth with a much larger weave, usually 7-count. This type of monk’s cloth has a very open weave, which means your yarn won’t be held as tightly and may slip out. If you are in Joann Fabrics or Michaels — you’re probably looking at this more loosely-woven Monk’s cloth.
So, I definitely recommend ordering your fabric from a shop that specifically mentions the thread count. The description should say something like 12-count, 12 holes per inch, or 24 threads per inch. I’ve found the right type of Monk’s cloth at Dorr Mill, amyoxford.com, and on Etsy.
Note: If you are doing the type of fine punch needle embroidery with embroidery floss, you’ll want a type of fabric called Weaver’s cloth — which is totally different.
The Best Yarns for Punch Needle
Once you have the tool and the foundation fabric, it’s time to pick out your yarn.
Wool Rug Yarn
If you are a punch needle purist, you’ll want a 100% wool yarn specifically made to be used in rug-making. This type of wool yarn is spun from stronger fleece, so it’s durable enough to use for rugs and other projects that will see a lot of wear. Yes, you’ll be able to walk on your punch needle embroidery rugs!
Through wool yarn may be the most traditional choice, you can certainly use other types of yarn in your punch needle projects. You can experiment with any type of yarn that will flow easily through the shaft of your punch needle.
I find that “bulky” and “worsted” weight yarns work the best, depending on your tool. You can use wool, wool blends, cotton, or even 100% acrylic yarns.
You’ll probably want to stay away from slippery yarns because they’ll fall out of the foundation fabric. I also avoid bumpy novelty yarns because they often get caught in the eye of the needle tool.
If you have a worsted weight yarn that you want to use in a Regular size needle, try using two strands of yarn held together. I’ve even used tripled sock weight yarn! Feel free to experiment.
The Best Frames for Punch Needle
Finally, you’ll need a frame to hold your project while you’re working on it.
An embroidery hoop or a wooden stretcher frame holes the foundation fabric taught while you punch the design. For punch needle rug hooking, your backing fabric needs to be stretched really tightly!
There are several different types of frames that you can use to hold your punch needle embroidery projects while you are working on them. Here are a few types of frames that work.
- Gripper Strip Frame
- No-slip Embroidery Hoop
- Q-Snap PVC frame
- Carpet Tack Frame (this can be a DIY option, if you’re handy)
Out of all of these options, I usually recommend the Q-snap frame to beginners. It holds the fabric well, and it’s a nice inexpensive option.
If you end up loving punch needle embroidery, you may want to upgrade to a Gripper Strip Frame — but I love using the Q-snap frames as well.
Other Supplies for Punch Needle
Once you have those 4 main supplies, you’re just about ready to start. You’ll also want to gather up some scissors for cutting yarn, a Sharpie to draw your pattern on the stretched monk’s cloth, and a needle and thread to sew up your project at the end.
Ready for more punch needle tips? Check out this guide about Punch Needle FAQs : Troubleshooting Problems
Sarah Stearns has helped thousands of makers find their next craft project with free patterns and step-by-step tutorials on her blog, sarahmaker.com. Read more.
Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Scientific American, Good Housekeeping, Vox, Apartment Therapy, Lifehacker, and more.