When it comes to punching, unless you’re sculpting your rug using different sized needles, the finished textile you’re looking to create is a smooth surface of tight, even loops. But if you’re just getting started, this may be easier said than done!
Below are 5 basic tips to keep in mind, that will help you achieve beautiful, even punch needle loops every time!
Tip #1: Make sure your backing fabric is stretched tight on the frame
No matter what type of frame you use, the first step to even punch loops is to prepare your backing fabric properly. Stretch your backing fabric as tight as you can on your hoop or gripper strip frame — and then stretch it even tighter! Most beginners think they have stretched their fabric tight enough when it looks smooth, but there should be almost no ease in the fabric at all when you press down with your hand or your needle. It should be as tight as a drum, and make a similar sound when you tap it with your finger. Or, as Amy Oxford says, “you should be able to bounce a quarter off it”!
Tip #2: Always face the needle in the direction you are punching
You want to hold the Punch Needle like a pencil, with the channel facing up. When you punch into your backing fabric, the channel (the top, open part of the needle) should always be facing in the direction you are punching. If you want to turn a corner, turn the needle only once it is pressed all the way down in the fabric, so that your channel is again facing in the new direction that you are punching. Facing the needle another direction can tangle the thread or cause the loops to pull out.
Tip #3: Make sure to Punch all the way down into the fabric
The loop you create will be half the height of your needle length. You are pushing yarn to the other side, and the needle is folding it in half as it brings it back up through the same hole. Punching down all the way ensures you are creating a loop with yarn the full length of the needle. Pushing only part of the needle through means you will be creating a smaller loop. The bottom of the punch needle handle acts as a stopper, so don’t be afraid to push all the way down until the handle hits the monkscloth! That way you know you’ve sent as much yarn through to the other side as possible.
Tip #4: Don’t lift the needle up too high when beginning your next stitch
Just as important as punching all the way down, is not to pull the needle up too high when beginning your next stitch. You want the tip of your needle to only graze the surface of the fabric before going into the next hole. Just drag it gently along the top before pushing it down again. If you pull up too high when beginning the next stitch, you will be pulling the yarn up from your previous stitch, and possibly even out of the fabric.
Tip #5: Constantly check your work
We can get so concentrated punching on the back of the piece that it’s easy to forget to flip the frame over and take a look at the loops you’ve created! Especially when just starting out, you’ll want to check your work constantly to make sure that the loops you’re creating are of even height. If they’re not, don’t worry! It is very easy to pull your stitches out and redo them — but you’ll want to catch it early enough so that you’re not pulling out row after row of good stitches just because of a few missed loops.
So there you have it, the Top 5 Tips for creating even loops when punching. I hope these tips help you create beautiful, even stitches!
Check out our YouTube video on this same topic, to see demonstrations of each tip!