Punch-Needle Embroidery

I tend to be a little overly ambitious. About a month ago I received an e-mail about an art competition for UW grad students, and I immediately started planning. I decided my technique would be punch-needle embroidery, which was probably a bit silly because it’s a slow process and I only had a month to finish the piece. I spend about 30 hours a week at the VA between my field placement and my part time job, and I’m also taking 5 classes. So not much time for crafting!

The part that takes the longest for me is drawing out the design. I can’t draw very well, so by the time I’m done I’m usually surrounded in tiny eraser shreds. I start in pencil, then go over the pencil with a thin marker for a bolder line, and then try out a few colors for inspiration.



Next, I have to trace the design onto the weavers cloth, which is why the bold line was necessary. This doesn’t take quite as long, but it’s still a slow and not very exciting process. I’m sure there’s a really fast and fancy way to do this using transfer paper and an iron, or a light box, but I don’t have any of those. That’s right, no iron!


Then I stretch the fabric onto an embroidery hoop and I punch away. And I keep punching. And I punch some more, until I get this!


This is my biggest piece to date, being about 13 inches tall and 9 inches wide. The deadline to submit to the art contest is tomorrow. Of course I finished mine about 10 minutes ago, so just in time. My theory is that the judges will either love it because it’s different or they’ll hate it because it’s different. Either way, I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I haven’t done much with shading or blending colors before, and I’m impressed with what I managed to do. If I don’t win then I’ll get to keep it or try to sell it in my Etsy shop, so it all works out in the end.

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26 thoughts on “Punch-Needle Embroidery

  1. That design is gorgeous. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I think you draw better than I do.! It’s really pretty. I’m proud of you.

  2. I’ve never done punch needle embroidery before, but all that punching sounds very therapeutic,
    and the result is spectacular. Good job Alison!

  3. Your Dad, Laura and I have enjoyed seeing this this morning and we wish you the best. We had a house full last 2 days. My best friend from high school who now lives in Houston and her daughter, Laura and the 2 boys all have been having fun. Will sleep well Sundaynight. Made homemade waffles for Kyler thismorning. Yum

    Lynn Blauser Foster Blauser Energy Corporation


  4. Thats really pretty, when you say punch, its that in then back out using a different hole in the fabric, its not something we know a lot about in the UK…..Aunt Lynne….yes both you and Fleur have such nice blogs I thought I would give it ago….just setting up my pages now…..

    • Must be it runs in the family!! All you do is punch the needle in to the fabric, and then pull it back out. The tension in the fabric keeps the loop in place. You punch from the back, and your loop appears on the other side. It takes a special kind of needle that is hollow, and that’s what the thread travels through. That’s not a very good description, but it’s kinda tough to explain.

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