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All About Frames - An Overview of Punch Needle Frames

Posted by Shawna Fosket on
Punch Needle Frame Overview

You’ve been stalking punch needle on IG for months, you finally decide to splurge and buy a punch needle, you learn that fabrics aren’t all the same and finally find the correct type of fabric. You think you can finally start.

But wait, what are all these people putting this fabric into?! Now what?

Punch Needle Frames, the good, the bad and the frustrating. In my opinion, making a frame, getting a frame ready, it’s all the not fun part.

Shawna’s 2 cents would love to skip this part entirely. Unfortunately, that’s not possible.

And because this part is not so easy, you will see several different methods. Even I use different methods each time depending on my level of energy when I start a project.

 

Wooden embroidery hoops

One of my favorite frames. It’s pretty, if glued it doesn’t slip and when you’re done, you’re done!

 

Wooden Embroidery hoop used in Punch needle

Pros

  • If fabric is pre-glued, fabric does not slip.

  • Pretty end product - The frame can be used as part of your finished project. When you’re done punching, your project is done.

  • High quality Nurge embroidery hoops offer a higher end finished look. With sturdy gold screws and brackets at the top of the hoop, they are beautiful in themselves. (Nurge hoops available in the store.)

Cons

  • If fabric is not pre-glued, the fabric will come loose as you work, causing multiple readjustments as you work.

  • A lot of the hoops available in the US are cheaply made, causing extra struggle as you work. (The Nurge embroidery hoops available in the North Shore Crafts store are high quality and very sturdy, however, they can be costly due to this high quality.)

Price

Pricing varies depending on the size and quality you want to use. Local craft stores have cost efficient hoops available, ranging in price from $1.89 (6” hoop) to $3.49 (14” hoop).

These hoops will be low quality, but they work well enough to get the job done. I’ve worked with several and for the most part, they work fine.

I’ve had a few break on me as I tried to pull the fabric tight. However, the majority of them held up fine.

You will want to pre-glue these cheaper frames. The cheapness of the product makes it almost impossible to hold the fabric tight enough to work.

There are higher end wooden hoops available, mostly online (I’ve never seen one in a craft store as of yet). Nurge hoops are fantastic! My favorite hoop to work with.

Very sturdy, making it easier to make your fabric tight before you start working. They also have a screwdriver head slot in the screw so you can really get it tight.

Pricing for these higher end hoops ranges from $10 (6” hoop) to $13 (12” hoop).

How to prepare for punching

There are 2 options for preparing a wooden or bamboo embroidery hoop for punch needle.

Option 1 - No glue - work with the fabric as you work, possibly readjusting multiple times. You would want to do this option if you want to use your finished punch needle project in something other than a wall hanging.

For instance, if you wanted to make a round pillow, you would want to work with the frame unglued so you could remove the fabric and sew into a pillow after completed.

Option 2 - Gluing fabric to frame - If you intend to use your finished project as a wall hanging in the wooden frame, I highly recommend pre-glueing the fabric to the hoop. It is much easier to punch needle for 2 reasons. One, the fabric doesn’t slip as you work, saving you lots of adjusting. And second, the fabric is much tighter as you work. And the tighter the fabric, the more enjoyable the process.

How to Glue the Fabric to the Hoop (video tutorial at the end)

Cut your Monks cloth so that you have about 2 inches of extra fabric all around. Typically I start with a 12”x12” square piece of fabric for a 8.66” inch hoop.

Insert fabric into the hoop. I find it’s best to leave the outside hoop closed as much as possible to squeeze it over the bottom hoop. It’s a tight fit but it pulls the fabric better giving you a better starting point.

Once hoop is fitted, you’ll work your way around the frame pulling the fabric as you go. I find it works best to start at the top (12 o’clock), move to the opposite spot on the bottom (6 o’clock), then right (3 o’clock) to left (9 o’clock), making a cross pattern. This cross pattern helps make the fabric tight.

After the first cross pattern is pulled, move in between the points you just made following the same opposite side pattern. For instance, pull the fabric at the 2 o’clock position then move to the 8 o’clock position.

Follow this pattern until the fabric has been pulled all the way around the hoop. The Monks cloth needs to be very taut. So keep pulling until the fabric feels like a quarter would bounce off it.

Once it’s tight, trim the fabric around the hoop about 3/4”. You will want just enough fabric to reach the bottom of the hoop edge, but not go over the edge into your working area.

I use my finger to press down the fabric and gauge where I need to cut.

Now use a hot glue gun to glue the fabric to the hoop. I like to place a bead of glue in 2 places, along the inside of the hoop and also under the fabric where the top and bottom hoops meet (see photo for visual aid).

The glue on the inside of the middle hoop is key. It will hold the fabric down. The middle glue placement is to hold the hoop frame together.

Glue about 6 inches of glue, then go back and push the fabric into the glue. I find too much more than 6 inches starts to dry and becomes awkward to work with. Repeat until entire hoop is done.

 


Overview

Wooden or bamboo embroidery hoops are the most cost efficient option. If pre-glued, they work smoothly. And they are a wonderful option if you plan to make a wall hanging.

 

Plastic no slip embroidery hoops

My Morgan No Slip hoop is typically my go to frame when I want to start a project on the fly. No preparation is needed. You’ll see my No Slip hoop in a lot of my tutorials due to this ease of use.

 

 Morgan No Slip Plastic embroidery hoop used in Punch Needle

Pros

  • Holds fabric throughout project - Fabric is held tightly as you work, little to no fabric adjustment is needed.

  • Fabric is very taut - If done right, it pulls the fabric very tightly. I felt it was tighter than my pre-glued hoops and my stapled or tacked wooden frames.

  • Easy to start - with no glueing or stapling, it’s the quickest to start solution for frames. Insert fabric, tighten hoop and start working. It doesn’t get much easier than that.

Cons

  • Not for display - If you want to make a wall hanging, the plastic hoops are not as pretty as the wooden hoops nor cost efficient to do so.

  • Work has to be transferred - When the project is done, you will remove it from the plastic frame and insert into a prettier and cheaper frame.

Price

These can be pricier than the wooden hoops, but if you love the idea of starting a project sooner, it’s well worth the cost. And you buy once and use multiple times.

I highly recommend the Morgan No Slip hoops. It worked much nicer than a cheaper Michael’s version.

Morgan No Slip Hoops prices range from $10.49 for a 5” hoop to $33.99 for a 17” hoop. I have a 9” hoop which works for most of my projects and it costs $14.99. You can buy them online at http://www.nosliphoops.com/no-slip-hoops.html.

How to Prepare for Punching

This will be similar to the wooden embroidery hoop preparation without the glueing part.

 

Cut your Monks cloth so that you have about 2 inches of extra fabric all around. Typically I start with a 12”x12” square piece of fabric for a 8.66” inch hoop.

Insert fabric into the hoop. I find it’s best to leave the outside hoop closed as much as possible to squeeze it over the bottom hoop. It’s a tight fit but it pulls the fabric better giving you a better starting point.

From here, your fabric might already be tight enough to work. If the fabric feels looser than you’d prefer to work, follow the same cross pattern to tighten the fabric around the hoop.

You will want to loosen the hoop screws enough to be able to pull the fabric. Start at the top (12 o’clock), pull fabric out and up to tighten. Move to the opposite spot on the bottom (6 o’clock), pull tight. Then to the right (3 o’clock), pull, move to left (9 o’clock), pull.  

After the first cross pattern is pulled, move in between the points you just made following the same opposite side pattern. For instance, pull the fabric at the 2 o’clock position then move to the 8 o’clock position.

Follow this pattern until the fabric has been pulled all the way around the hoop. The Monks cloth needs to be very taut. So keep pulling until the fabric feels like a quarter would bounce off it.

Once the fabric is tight, you’re ready to work!

Overview

Plastic no slip hoops are great for starting a project on the fly. Quick and easy to prepare your foundation fabric.

 

Wooden frames

Wooden frames are versatile. It works as a ready to hang frame and can also be used if you want to transfer your project to make something else when finished.


The wooden frame has been my go to to make all the other things when it comes to punch needle. I used my wooden frame to make a pillow. And to make an art piece to place inside a picture frame.


My favorite projects have come from using a wooden frame.

 

Wooden punch needle frame

Wood Frame Options

  • Artist canvas - Craft stores often have sales on artist canvas making this a cost efficient option. And they have a wide variety of sizes and shapes. I bought a large oval canvas recently that I’ve been dying to use.

  • Stretcher bars - There are self assemble stretcher bars available in craft stores and on Amazon. Edmunds is the brand I’ve found and loved. Easy to assemble, no removing of staples and they can be disassembled when done and stored away easily.

  • Make your own wooden frame - If you have woodworking expertise under your belt, you could make your own wooden frame.

Pros

  • Versatile for many project options - You can buy gigantic artist canvas and turn it into a punch needle frame (disclaimer: I’ve never used a gigantic frame so I’m not sure how tight the fabric can be pulled), so really the sky's the limit in terms of projects.

  • Projects can transfer well - If you want to make a pillow or slippers or a purse, this is a great option. Punch away, remove from frame and make the best damn purse you’ve ever seen.

  • Relatively easy to set up - If you splurge and get the removable tacks, you can have a frame set up in a matter of minutes.

  • Can be used as a ready to hang frame - Since the fabric folds over the frame, it is beautiful to use as an end product. Staple once, hang when punching is complete.

  • Fabric is held tightly - If done right, the fabric in a wooden frame is very tight making a pleasurable working experience.

  • No fabric adjustment needed while working - Since the fabric is held by staples or tacks, the fabric does not loosen over time thus preventing adjustments as you work.

Cons

  • Can be labor intensive to prepare - If you are using staples to hold your fabric, some good ole bump and grind is needed to prepare the frame. I always like it when my husband helps me staple just because of the force it takes to get the staples in good. With that said, girl power go time, it can be done! :)

  • Removing staples from an artist canvas is not fun - While it’s relatively easy to remove staples from an artist canvas, some staples can be stubborn. I have hurt myself while trying to jam my screwdriver into the staple.  

Price

Artist canvas - Largely varies on the size. Anywhere from $4 for a 10”x10” canvas frame to $11 for a 24”x24”.

Stretcher bars - Edmunds has a large variety available. 10” bars are $6 for 2, you will need to purchase 2 packs of 2, so total price is $12. 20” bars are $11, for a total of $22.

How to Prepare Fabric (video tutorial at the end)

Artist canvas - Remove the canvas material from the wooden frame.

Use a flat head screwdriver to pry the staples up and out. For stubborn staples, a plyers or wire cutter tool works well to finish removing the staple.

Stretcher Bars - Assemble stretcher bars by piecing together each piece at the corners.

Once wooden frame is assembled or canvas removed, you can now prepare the fabric for the frame.

Cut your fabric 3 inches wider than your frame on each side. This is to account for the fraying of the material and to ensure you have enough fabric to be able to pull it tightly.  

There are two options to hold the fabric to the wooden frame. Staples or tacks.

Staples - Some force is needed. Staples work well if you desire to use the frame for hanging when completed.

Tacks - Easier to insert into the frame. Tacks are a better option if you wish to take your project out after you are done and turn it into something (i.e. pillow or purse).

Once you have decided which method to use for holding your fabric, it’s time to pull your fabric onto the frame.

Start at the top of the frame. Pull the Monks cloth fabric over the frame in the middle of the top side and insert staple or tack.

Move to the exact opposite spot on the bottom of the frame, pull the fabric as tight as you can and insert staple/tack.

Now you will insert staples/tacks on the right and left sides. To staple/tack the first side, pull the fabric in both hands on the right and left sides. Hold the fabric in place on the right side and insert staple/tack.

Move to the left side, pull fabric as tight as you can and insert staple/tack.

From here, you’ll go halfway in the middle of each staple, pull fabric tight, insert staple/tack and then do the exact opposite side.

Continue until you’ve stapled/tacked the entire frame. You’re ready to start punching!

Here is a full video tutorial showing the Artist Canvas turned to Punch Needle Frame process. It is showing the stapling process, however, the tacks would follow the same process. If you want to remove the fabric to turn your project into something, do not trim the fabric at the end. Leave the fabric as is and then remove the tacks when done punching.  

 

Overview

If you have the time, a wooden frame is a wonderful option. It is versatile, allows for a large working area and thus a larger project, and if stretcher bars and tacks are used is relatively easy to set up.

Carpet tack wooden frames (not pictured)

There are some frames that use carpet tack on the edges to hold the fabric, these tend to be expensive. But I’ve been dreaming about them lately so I totally understand the splurge! :)   (Example: Oxford Gripper Frame)

I had planned to make a carpet tack frame for this post, but after some research, it was more intensive than I originally thought. I felt the detail needed to show such a task definitely needed an entirely separate post. So look for that one coming in the future! Now that I’ve researched these bad boys, I’m pretty stoked to make one for myself.

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2 comments

  • Shawna Fosket on

    Hi Kelsey!! That’s so great to hear! You will have to let me know how the other frame options work for you. And I’d love to see what you’re making! Warmest, Shawna

  • kelsey on

    thank you SO MUCH for this post!! I was exactly as you described: had the monk’s cloth, had the punch needle, had the wool and an embroidery frame… and it just wasn’t working. I was starting to get despondent, but this gave me some inspiration to give it another go – and gluing the monk’s cloth into the frame was perfect. I’m already investigating the other frame options for when I get better at it. THANK YOU for providing this — it was such a gap in the internet! xo

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