Learn how to add texture and pattern to canvas, pillows, and blankets with just two materials: Yarn and a punch needle.

By BH&G Crafts Editors
Updated March 25, 2020
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Read step by step instructions after the video.

A punch needle and a few skeins of colorful yarn are all you need to create a bright patterned design on any stretched fabric material. We punched a geometric design onto stretched canvas to make wall art, but you can use the same technique to decorate pillows, blankets, and baskets. If you’ve never used a punch needle before, don’t be intimidated; it’s easy to learn! This type of needle allows you to place small, even stitches of thick yarn on a stretched cloth—perfect for geometric or abstract designs that use straight lines. We recommend testing the needle technique on a spare piece of cloth first, so you can get a feel for how it works before creating the final design. Use our free pattern to replicate our design, or sketch out your own art and transfer it to the canvas.

  • Working time 2 hrs
  • Start to finish 2 hrs
  • Difficulty Kind of hard
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What you need

Tools
Materials
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How to do it

Step 1

Stretch cloth

Purchase wooden canvas stretchers (such as these Stretcher Bars, $3.49, Michaels) and use a staple gun to attach the frame pieces together. Glue carpet tack strips to the canvas stretchers, then hammer the strips onto the frame. Cut a piece of monks cloth (such as Natural Monks Cloth, $14.99, JOANN) large enough to stretch over and around the frame. The cloth should be stretched as tightly as possible for the punch needle technique to work properly. Stretch the cloth one side at a time; lift the cloth off the tacks, pull tightly, and set the cloth back over the tacks. Repeat this step on each side, until the cloth is pulled as tightly as possible. (If it's not taut enough, the punches will slip out.) Cover exposed tacks with pieces of carpet pad to protect your hands from the tacks while you work; staple to secure.

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Step 2

Transfer pattern

Print and cut out our free pattern template and use a pencil or pen to transfer the design to the fabric. You’ll be covering the lines later, so don’t worry about leaving dark marks on the cloth. If you’re creating your own design, simply draw directly on the canvas. Keep in mind the final result will be a mirror image.

Get the FREE template!
Step 3

Fill in pattern with punch needle

Thread the punch needle with yarn; we used a size 10 needle (try starting with an adjustable needle, such as this Wooden Punch Needle, $14.68, Etsy) and thick rug yarn. Holding the needle tool like a pen, start at the corner of a triangle and punch the needle through the fabric. Punch through the surface, then bring the needle back up to create a loop on the front. (The farther you push the needle through, the larger the loop). Continue punching the loops as closely together as possible along the outline—be careful not to lift the needle too high, or the stitches won’t be even. Keep the needle’s up and down motions at a uniform height throughout the project to create a cohesive look (and so you don't end up with a loopy, knotted mess on the back of the fabric.) Once the outline is done, continue punching to fill in the design. Keep punching until one triangle is completely filled with stitches of one color. Remove the yarn from the needle and tie in a knot at the back of the canvas, then thread the needle with a new color, punching until the entire pattern is filled.

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Jacob Fox
Step 4

Frame and display

When the entire pattern is filled in, and all stray pieces of yarn have been tied and trimmed, remove the carpet pad and cloth from the frame. Stretch the finished cloth piece around a smaller frame, using a staple gun to attach the cloth to the frame, then choose the perfect place to hang your new creation.

Comments (1)

How difficult was this project?
Anonymous
January 1, 2019
I am wondering what secures the yarn to the fabric.

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