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Craft Box Club – Needle Punch Tote Bag

It’s been a little while since I did a punch needle project so I was quite looking forward to the latest Craft Box Club, embellishing a jute shopping bag with a Spring-themed motif. 

Included in the box was:

  • Jute shopping bag
  • Green yarn
  • Yellow yarn
  • Punch needle
  • Chalk
  • Paper template

Also included was the link to the ‘how to’ guide on the website. As well as the video tutorial they have also started to include a basic step-by-step photo guide for how to complete the project. I find this really useful, especially when I already know how to do the craft technique. However, the video for this project was quite short and worth a watch as the technique was slightly different to normal due to the lack of embroidery hoop to keep the fabric taut. The first stage was to cut out the paper template of the cheese plant leaf and draw round it onto the bag using the chalk.

Then all that was left to do was punch! I did the outline of the leaf and some veins in the middle and then free styled some daffodils around the edge. The instructions said to do five, but that upset my sense of symmetry a bit so I decided to stick to four, one in each corner! Once all the punch needling was complete I ironed it on the back which apparently helps to relax the fibres to keep the design in place.

Although I liked the project in principal (I always like making useful things and being eco-friendly) I did find the execution of it a little bit problematic along the way. I found the jute material very difficult to punch through and without a hoop to keep the fabric taut I found that several of my stitches fell out after I was too far past them to unpick all the way back to redo them. I also thought that the yarn was a bit too thin for this project. It kept falling out of my needle, which was a little tricky as I needed one hand to hold the needle and the other on the reverse side of the fabric pulling the stitches through. If the yarn had been a bit chunkier I feel that the stitches would have stayed in place better. The problem with only doing a single line of stitches is that usually with a larger area of punch needle the stitches on either side will help to hold the whole design in place. Without any neighbouring stitches the design felt a little precarious. I will be interested to see how long the design lasts once I have used the bag a few times.

Nevertheless, it was good to try a different technique of a craft I am already familiar with. I’m always keen to expand my skill set and try new things. And I love the Spring-like feel of the design, it makes me feel joyful and ready for the new season!

craft kit

Punch Needle Embroidery Rainbow

I haven’t done any punch needling for ages, so when I saw this new punch needle embroidery kit from The Modern Crafter (https://themoderncrafter.co.uk/) I just had to buy it! I always really enjoy their kits as the designs are well thought through and the materials are always great quality. This kit was £29 with free shipping (UK based, may be more for international).

Included in the kit was:

  • Punch needle embroidery tool
  • Pre-printed fabric
  • Yarn x 3 colours 
  • Embroidery hoop

This particular kit caught my eye because it was punch needle embroidery using a Lavor needle as opposed to the regular Oxford needle. The Lavor tool has three interchangeable needles and is a lot smaller than the Oxford, meaning you can do more detailed and intricate designs with it. The ladies at The Modern Crafter recommend using an Aran weight yarn with the largest size needle and embroidery thread (all six strands) with the other two smaller ones. I am interested in doing some experimenting of my own though to see what other kinds of yarn and thread work well with this tool.

The pre-printed design is a rainbow with a sun using three different coloured yarns, which is also available in the main punch needle range as well. The guide is really useful and contains plenty of information about punch needle generally and how to complete this kit specifically. I thought that the section on threading the needle was particularly good with clear step-by-step photographs. I also really liked the close up photo of the difference between loop and flat stitches and the trouble shooting page at the back that had lots of handy hints.

The project itself was quite quick to complete. It is smaller than the usual punch needle kits with a 6 inch hoop rather than an 8 inch hoop. As with most punch needle projects (and my favourite thing about it) you could see your progress really quickly, which is very satisfying. 

I’m really keen to have another go with the Lavor needle. It produces a lovely texture that is so soft and tactile and you can get in smaller spaces than you can with the ordinary Oxford needle. As soon as I finish typing this I’m going to be ordering some fabric and yarn so I can have another go!

craft kit

Sunset Punch Needle

I finally got round to doing my punch needle kit! I’ve been wanting to do it pretty much since I bought it but other projects and jobs kept popping up, so it’s kind of been hovering in the background since I got it at the Handmade Festival in the summer from The Modern Crafter (https://themoderncrafter.co.uk/). This week I feel like I’m getting back on top of everything and managed to find time to sit down and enjoy it.

I chose the sunset kit and included in the bag was:

  • Four different coloured balls of wool
  • Wooden gripper hoop
  • Embroidery hoop
  • Fabric
  • Snips
  • Yarn needle
  • Paper template

I also paid extra to include an Oxford punch needle as I didn’t have one at the time.

The first step was to fit the fabric into the gripper hoop. This keeps the fabric really taut whilst you are working on it, which is essential. Previously when I’ve done punch needle I’ve just used a normal embroidery hoop, but I’ve found that I had to keep pulling the fabric tight again. This gripper hoop was amazing! I didn’t have to pull the fabric at all, it just stayed in place the whole time. Once the fabric was in the hoop I then used the template to trace the design onto the fabric.

I started off with the areas of the design that were in flat stitch. To achieve the flat stitch you punch from the front of the work to the back. It’s important to offset the stitches to give stability to the work.

Once I had finished all the flat areas I then began to work from the back to the front to achieve the loop stitch and create texture on the piece.

When the design was completely filled in I removed the work from the gripper hoop and transferred it to the embroidery hoop for display. I trimmed the fabric to around one inch and then used the yarn needle to whip stitch around the edge, trapping the excess fabric and hiding the hoop. I changed the colour of the yarn for each section of the design. 

I enjoyed the kit so much that I bought their festive kit too, so keep an eye on my Instagram to see how I get on with those during December!

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‘Folksy Punch Needle’ MakeBox

This month’s MakeBox was a punch needle project with a folksy theme. I’ve been quite looking forward to this as I’m keen to try out my newly acquired punch needle skills. I have a few designs of my own I’d like to try soon but it’s always good to practice first!

In the box there was:

  • Embroidery hoop
  • Grey, red and sage green yarn
  • Navy blue thread
  • Punch needle
  • Sewing needle and pins
  • Round cushion pad
  • Hessian fabric
  • Cotton lining fabric
  • Felt backing fabric
  • Paper template and transfer sheet
  • Postcard

The main project was to make a punch needle cushion. I started off by applying the design to the fabric using the waxy transfer paper, tracing over the flower and bird design with a pencil. This left a white mark on the hessian fabric. The hessian fabric was chosen as it has quite a loose weave to allow the punch needle to pass through it easily. Once I had traced the design I fixed the fabric in the embroidery hoop. It needs to be as taut as possible and I found I was constantly pulling it tight again as the process of pushing the needle through easily makes the fabric baggy. I was a little disappointed that the waxy transfer paper was smaller than the actual design which meant I had to do a bit of jigging around trying to line the pattern back up once I’d moved the transfer paper. Although it wasn’t much of a problem I do find small details like this a bit annoying as it seems like something that should be checked and measured when putting the box together.

I really enjoyed the actual punch needle part of the project. It’s a really satisfying craft that gets quick results. You can see the effects of your work straight away and it doesn’t take long to fill in an area. Most of the design was filled in working from the front to the back using the flatter stitch to create the blocks of colour. This meant it was important to be neat and work the stitches closely together. The smaller flowers and anthers of the larger flower were created working from the back to the front to achieve the looped stitches, which gave it a nice 3D effect.

There was the option to leave it as a wall hanging but I wanted to complete the project so I followed the next steps to turn it into a cushion. I marked out the 12 inch circle from the pattern onto each of the three pieces of fabric and then added a 1 inch seam allowance. After cutting out all three I pinned the hessian and lining cotton together and sewed around them. The navy lining cotton is to prevent the white cushion pad showing through the hessian. I then pinned the felt backing to the front of the hessian so that the design was covered over. After sewing these together, leaving a gap to put the cushion pad through, I then trimmed the seam allowance down to 1cm and cut notches in it so that it wouldn’t be bulky when I turned it the right way round. Once I had pulled it through so that the design was showing I stuffed the cushion pad inside, making sure it was pushed right to the edges. Lastly, I pinned the two sides together and sewed up the gap.

There was also a mini project in the box as usual. A ‘peace and dove’ postcard to embroider. There were no holes pre-punched in it, so it was up to me to choose where to place them, which was unfortunate as some of my holes were too close and ended up merging together! It still looked ok in the end though. Another one for the wall!

workshop

Punch needle…at last!

I’ve been to the London Craft Club again! (https://londoncraftclub.co.uk/) This time for a workshop in the craft world’s biggest current trend; punch needle. I’ve been wanting to learn this craft for quite a while now as it’s so popular and I recently bought a kit from The Modern Crafter (https://themoderncrafter.co.uk/). 

The London Craft Club have moved venue from Bedford Square to Holloway Road, but for September when I attended this workshop they were using The Upper House near Highbury and Islington tube station as their premises. The room we were in was nice and spacious with big windows and lovely murals on the walls. There was four of us in the class and our tutor for the evening was Zoe. She had the table laid out with piles of yarn in a rainbow of colours and when we arrived she encouraged us to think about what kind of design we would like to do. There were several examples laid out on the table ranging from rainbows and watermelons to abstract pieces.

Zoe explained about which types of cloth were the best to use for punch needle. We used a type called monk’s cloth which we fitted into the embroidery hoop to keep it taut whilst we were working. She then showed us how to thread the needle using the wire threader. The needle we used was not the famous Oxford needle that has become synonymous with punch needle, but an adjustable one. We talked about the settings and how you could create different effects with the different length loops. After Zoe had shown us the best practice for using the needle we were free to start on our designs.

I decided to make a wall hanging with the initial of my nephew to hang in his room. I chose a range of greens to create an abstract background and an orange for the J to stand out against the background. I started off with the J and then worked around it using the greens to create a random pattern, trying out each of the different needle lengths to produce a range of textures and heights.

The workshop was so relaxed and we all had a great time creating our pieces. Some people had a clear design in mind and others just experimented. I’m really pleased that I’ve learnt this technique and I can’t wait to have a go at my kit. I have a few ideas for designs of my own and October’s MakeBox is a punch needle kit too, so watch this space for more of this addictive craft!