Punch Needle Problem Solved

Four Dollars

Each day I learn something new about punch needle.  Today was no exception, and it started out badly.  Although every book I’ve read describes how you can move the hoop around to accommodate areas of unpunched fabric, you really can’t.  The notion that the indentations in the loops can be “fluffed” up is NOT the problem.  The problem is that if one part of the hoop is filled with thick loops, the other part will not hold tight. Lesson learned.  Whatever hoop you choose for a project, it must be large enough to accommodate the entire pattern.  This isn’t cross stitch.  It just doesn’t work well, and I now realize why most punch needle patterns are quite small.  They have to fit entirely within the hoop.  You can’t move it around with any degree of success.

The perfect solution.

I went online looking for larger hoops, square hoops, hoops with what are called grabbers.  I found them everywhere but at unbelievable, cost-prohibitive prices.  Most were handmade, polished wood, and pretty to look at, but all were over $100, and some were close to $700.

So off to JoAnns, surprise, surprise, to look at their hoops and I soon realized that none would work… until I saw this “hoop-frame” that was further down the aisle.  Yes, it’s plastic, and yes it’s a bit goofy given that its purpose is to not just hold the fabric while you cross-stitch, but also frame it when you’re finished.   I imagine it was made for a child’s first needlework experience, and was simply placed in the wrong area of the store.

It is a large rectangle which eliminates all that wasted curved space of a round hoop, and since I had my piece with me, I was surprised it fit perfectly with plenty of space for error.  But how to keep it tight enough so that it wouldn’t move when I punched the needle through it?  The plastic-on-plastic nature of this provided little if any traction. And then it hit me. Paper clamps; those strong office kind.  So I bought the plastic hoop with my coupon and came home to find the exact clips I needed scattered around my house, and was thrilled to find the tension of using several clips keeps the fabric extremely taut, straight, and requiring almost no adjustment as I punched.  Indeed, this worked better than the expensive hoop I’d made my original projects on.  The “handles” of these clamps can be removed by squeezing them.  Doing so will get them out of your way while working on the project.  Just be sure to place them somewhere safe so you can remove the clamps when you’re finished.

Honestly, those other gripper frames were beautiful, but while I agree that they are craftsman’s works of art, I spent $4 today, and got a similar, if not better, solution that does not require me to sit at a table.  Nor does it take up space in my family room.  Mine is very light-weight and can be turned, tilted, and manipulated easily in one hand, making this perfect for punch needle.

Another better mousetrap.  Say cheese.


About Patsye

I am an older woman and artist. I love to craft. I love to sew and knit and crochet and needlepoint. I love to paint and draw and make art with my hands. Being creative is what gets me up in the morning. Art is my tea, my fresh air, my good book, and my cats all rolled into one. I have much to share and hope you'll visit often.
This entry was posted in Needle Punch, Needlework, Punch Needle, Textile Art, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Punch Needle Problem Solved

  1. Pamela Lioce says:

    I inherited my grandmothers punch needle and some patterns she had collected, and have just begun to learn the craft. I have to say, it’s fun, but there is more to it and I think it will take me some time to master. One thing I noticed right away is the way the fabric starts to pull out of the embroidery hoop almost immediately after beginning to punch. I hope once I try the suggestion of cubbyhole I will have better luck with keeping the fabric in place and may have an easier time of learning this art. I have beautiful visions of what I want to create but being a beginner, just starting to try my hand at this art yesterday, I know I have a ways to go before I’m creating the master pieces I envision.

    • Patsye says:

      Hi Pamela: Two things…. either make the frame smaller so that there is less fabric to stretch, or in the alternative, make the fabric and frame bigger. This way you can use the old standby, carpet tacking strips (sold at Lowes or Home Depot in the carpet section – very cheap per strip.) These strips will not let the fabric go ever. It will hold like a vice. But it also puts small holes in the fabric which is why you need a larger piece so it can be cut off when you finish the project. I use this exclusively for my projects now. Weavers cloth (for punch needle) is self-healing and works very well even with cutting. Monks cloth for rug hooking (punching) will be turned under anyhow, so holes don’t matter on the edges. It is also somewhat self-healing.

      Hope this helps, and please come back with some photos when you finish your first piece. I love to punch. It’s a great, relaxing craft with beautiful, versatile applications. Good luck! Patsye p.s. Be very careful with these carpet tacking strips. Use a thick towel when punching to protect your hands.

  2. Char says:

    Just found myself searching the web for a frame large enough for my piece and found your site! I too was shocked at the prices of the loops and frames but Cubbyholes idea is awesome!! Can’t wait to get to the store and buy my stretcher frames and thumb tacks! May even pick up the frame you describe so I can try both!

  3. cubbyholes says:

    Ok… you need to head to the painting section of Michael’s or someplace that has a good selection of oil painting supplies. You can buy, REALLY cheaply, wooden framing sticks. They are lightweight wooden sticks with slots on the ends so that they slip into one another. You then can thumbtack your cloth all around the wooden frame to hold it taught. The sticks come in all different lengths and once you have a nice selection you can mix and match them for any size your heart desires. I used to use them with counted cross-stitch. They are made of light pine or maybe even a balsa sort of wood so they are soft to tack into, but very lightweight to hold and use. The other thing you may want to look into is a quilting rack. They make small versions, not just the big floor models you always see quilting clubs using. This would be a bit more money, but not sure how much.

    Ok I did a lousy job of explaining these so I went hunting on the i’net. Here is a link to them.
    Of course they make a lot of different types, some more expensive, some less, some very. But you can also get them very cheap and use them over and over and over again practically forever.
    If you are really good with wood projects you could even make your own. 🙂


  4. Northern Narratives says:

    Interesting post. I can’t wait to see your design with the purple thread 🙂

    • I’m going to be putting this pattern up on the new website soon. I’m almost ready to “start business” with the patterns. I’m trying hard to get people interested in this needlework, because once they do one they will be hooked. Many of the instructions found in books are complicated and rigid, when in fact this is a laissez-faire type of needle art where anyone can do it the way they like best. No one looks at the back of the project, so I do not understand the call for such neatness. I say, just try it and see how it works out. It’s way more fun this way.

  5. Glad you have solved your problem – where there’s a will ….

    • And sometimes it’s the easiest, most-efficient, and cost-effective way. I finished this project and may start the next one on this homemade contraption because it truly works better than the round ones which need constant tightening. My paper clamps do not! I’m going to blog soon about another homemade frame for punch needle.

  6. lelia says:

    I agree – hoop has to be larger than the project.
    Punch needle is so much fun. My friend made an ornament for me. I’ll have to remember to take a picture and put on the humble blog.
    She mounted on a stiff red paper – it looks wonderful. I have to remember to ask her what the red paper is!

    • Yes, please take a picture. Anything RED, and I know I’ll love it. I’m really into this art form, and I’m not sure why. I think it is because the designs seem to come alive when they are so three-dimensional.

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