There’s something satisfying and deeply therapeutic about needle punching: It’s easy, repetitive, and immediately gratifying. Plus, with a small project and simple design like the ones below, it only takes a few hours to end up with something wearable, frameable, or giftable. We asked one of Hallmark’s resident textile design experts, Keda M., to teach needle punch basics. Follow along to create your own adorable, fuzzy punch needle patches to adorn jean jackets, tote bags, and more.
Here’s what we used for our project. If you do embroidery, cross stitch, or needlepoint, you probably have most of the supplies handy. If not, they’re easy and pretty inexpensive to find (or order).
SUPPLIES FOR PUNCH NEEDLE PATCHES
- Size 13 Oxford needle
- 5 oz. yarn in your desired colors
- Fabric scissors
- Embroidery hoop: You’ll want one bigger than your patch on all sides.
- Fabric marker or Sharpie
- Monk’s Cloth: You can use many different materials for needle punching, but evenweave fabrics make it extra simple. Wash and dry your fabric before starting.
- Lightweight fusible interfacing: It makes the fabric easier to punch through and gives you a smooth surface to draw the pattern. We used this one.
- Iron-on adhesive or Fabric Fuse sheets
- Design ideas: Line art without lots of tiny details. We did simple, iconic images—rainbows, flowers, coffee cups.
How to make needle punch patches
First, prep your fabric.
- If you’re tracing your design, you can do it right onto the fusible interfacing. (If you’re freehanding it, draw it after you’ve stretched the fabric in the embroidery hoop.) Important: You’ll be needle punching through the back of the fabric—so the loops of yarn don’t get crushed—so remember your finished patch will be a reverse image.
- Following the instructions on your product, iron the interfacing to your Monk’s Cloth.
- Put the fabric in your embroidery hoop with the design (which will be the back of your patch) on top facing up. Make sure it’s pulled tight and even.
If your design is too intricate, you might lose some detail. Especially when you’re starting out, keep it big and simple.
Now thread your needle.
Oxford needles are really easy to thread. Starting at the bottom, thread your yarn through the metal loop, towards the slot in the handle. Pull it through the slot and through the eye of the needle.
Thicker yarn means you’ll need a bigger needle—and fabric with a more open weave. And vice versa, obvs.
Get to needle punching.
- To start, hold about an inch-long tail of the yarn down with your thumb, and punch the needle through an opening in the weave of your fabric. You’ll want the slot on the needle facing the direction you’re moving.
- Lift the needle back up through the fabric, slide it to the next opening, and punch it through. Don’t let the tip of the punch needle come off the surface of the fabric as you move from one punch to the next.
- The direction you move to fill in your design is up to you, based on the design and whether you’re right- or left-handed. You can outline and fill it in, or go row by row. Whatever helps you feel the flow.
- To change colors, cut the yarn—leaving about a half-inch tail—and move on. There’s no need to knot or finish anything off.
Make punch needle patches.
Take your design out of the embroidery hoop and trim any straggly yarn.
Before you cut the cloth, follow the instructions to carefully adhere the iron-on adhesive or Fabric Fuse sheets to the back. Added benefit: It’ll secure your loops so they don’t pull out.
Cut out your design. Don’t get too close to the needle punch loops—you’ll need a little fabric around the edges to hold it all together.
Peel the backing off the iron-on adhesive and iron it on your jacket or bag. If you’re heat-fusing it, iron on the garment or tote—not the yarn—so you don’t crush the beautiful loops you created.
If you’re framing your lovely creation, you don’t have to add the iron-on adhesive. But you probably figured that out.
HOW. CUTE. IS THIS. TOTE.
What new art or craft will you try this year? (We are here for you if you need ideas.) Tell us all about it—or better yet, show us. We’re on Instagram and Facebook.
Photography by Erin M.