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punch basics Q&A


What exactly is punchwork and how does it work? 

Any advantages to punch on an embroidery module?

Q & A aqua links
or just scroll on down the page

What are the steps to set up Rotary Punch?

Materials especially wonderful for  punch?

When can punch be added to projects?

What's the wash and wear on punch?

how punch works

how punch works

needlepunch is machine needle felting

Special BERNINA punch needles work beautifully on CB and Rotary Punch Tools. Some of the magic is in the needles. Some is in the foot and outer guide too.


Note! Rotary Punch foot images appear cloudy in a few images here because they're a prototype of the final. I worked with BERNINA to enhance and refine Rotary Tool capabilities.  It offers highly special needle capabilities, two types.

See?  It's crystal clear.

CB and Rotary barbed punch needles collect materials under barbs while on their way to the special throatplate below.


Both CB and Rotary style needles offer a wide range of artistic effects... while remaining kind to many types of base fabrics. 

The height adjustable foot has convenient markings.

There are additional technique advantages to having the two needle styles compatible with the Rotary Punch Tool. Plus there's an outer guide. See outer guide here... LEARN pro tips

Once the needle barbs are full, materials collected in the barbs are enmeshed into the materials below.

Some travel all the way through to the underside producing soft color blending there.

Why not flip the fabric over and call that the "right" side? Punch it from both sides? Add crisp shapes to a blurry background, etc.? 

I  simply love a day when I don't need to know which end is up.

SO much color and textural fun~

PURCHASE technique videos

I wrote a creative technique guide especially for the Rotary Tool. Some techniques are also CB friendly.
view my tutorial for punching set

BERNINA Set Up Guide (multilingual)

Barbed needles withdraw clean and empty,
ready to gather and deliver more color below!

The BERNINA CB and Rotary Punch are both very fine tools for enhancing creativity and learning, especially about color and textural effects. Punch tools add enjoyment to the sewing mix! See them both here

materials for punch

recommended materials

There are many punch-friendly materials to explore over time. By beginning with just a few base fabrics and toppings, plus a quality stabilizer, you can master some of the most versatile techniques and begin to color away~~~    PURCHASE technique videos

  1. Base fabrics - quilting cotton, wool and one of my favorites...raw silk (silk noile)

  2. Toppings - fiber, silk dupioni and yarn

  3. Stabilizer - OESD Aquamesh

set-up rotary punch

set-up rotary punch

project punch time

project punch time

When can you add punchwork? At the beginning of a project, all along and right up to the end. Here are some scenarios...

punch in-the-hoop

punch with an embroidery module

Speed and consistency in punch density frees you. It is truly fast. As to the evenness and thoroughness of the punching, this is performed spectacularly for you. Whether a digital file is intended for making custom-colored felt, pre-felt or to specifically punch certain toppings, the recommended amount of punch density for the materials and effects is included in the design file. It just does it for you, consistently each time. In BERNINA DesignerPlus Software, you can adjust these settings yourself. So instead of manually punching generally evenly across an area to an approximate density, which is do-able, you simply relax and take in the color view of in-the-hoop PunchWork happening before your eyes. And that is always joyful. :-)

Stitching is lovely atop the soft visual effects of punch. Detail stitching is easily added to in-the-hoop punch, precisely aligned to punch design elements and with many intriguing embroidery stitch options. Add in BERNINA DesignWorks tools... CutWork saves you time and energy delivering accurate and convenient shape-cutting results, even in felt. A CrystalWork tool ensures precise placement of crystals on punch elements. Sparkle is a nice accent for many punch effects. Digital punch has many in-the-hoop companions that add to the fun!

As your studio assistant, punch in-the-hoop delivers both embellishment and full project capabilities. Create alluring offsite embellishments in quantity to use on something else. Create an entire project in-the-hoop. You can even create larger works, like a felt scarf made from fiber on stabilizer and with no re-hooping. You just move it along. Watch for these techniques on LEARN punch. This is walk-away anti-fatigue precision, all while colorfully punching away~~~

Add a fresh look to ornaments, two-dimensional embroidery motifs and punch projects with the confidence of an embroidery file. Watch color happen. As punch tool files mix color for you, natural color harmonies are created. Anything goes and it all seems to work. Meanwhile, as you watch, your eye for color becomes more informed, sensitive and expressive. Do you wish to learn punch? Digital punch is also a starting place. Create beautiful textural effects and explore color …via fiberella digital files. I can bring you some exciting techniques, direct from my studio to yours. Collections will begin appearing under PURCHASE digital designs.

punch wash and wear

wash and wear

Enhance Durability 3 Ways

Willing & Unwilling materials, those that needlepunch securely or not, actually have three characteristics at play. Each affects durability: looseness of structure, fiber content and the stacked layering location in-the-mix at your punch needles. Many types of fiber, even synthetics like Tencel, are punch friendly because punch needles more easily engage with its loose structure. Fibers made of wool, silk and nylon play extremely well. Plus, you can blend Willing & Unwilling together to increase performance, as in the case of Merino-Tencel blends ...adding a beautiful luster into the mix. Used as the first material the punch needles strike, wool fiber even as yarn, truly is the crazy glue of punchwork. Fabric made by punch needles out of fiber is extremely durable too.

  1. Include loosely structured materials 

  2. Use fiber content reactive to punch needles, wool, silk, nylon, etc.

  3. Position these materials up top in-the-mix at times during punchwork

Fabric is another story. There's fiber content, which we can't always be certain of. Also in play is the thread count or knit gauge, which really just means the tightness or looseness of weave or knit structure. There is something else a bit less obvious, but very important. Twist of the construction yarns that make up the fabric is hidden in the weave or knit. Tight twist does not punch. The easiest and fastest thing is a simple punch test. I rate my materials in three categories: Highly Willing, Somewhat Willing and the Unwilling. Again, general rule of thumb is to make sure your Willing materials are placed up top at times; so that the barbed needles can drive and enmesh those into the materials below.

Testing is informative and fast. This test works for fabric and toppings too. Simply cut two pieces of the same material and see if these will fasten together using your particular punch needles. Punch it from both sides. Can you pull it apart easily? With some force? Or not at all? Good info. The more difficult to pull apart, the more you may wish to include that material; especially when the project type requires more wash and wear. There are many successful combinations for durability in needlepunch. You can use Willing fabrics as a base and/or as toppings. Same is true for the Somewhat Willing & the Unwilling. Use any less willing-to-punch materials with Highly Willing materials placed above and closest to the punch needles at times. You can also just add some stitch.


Easier is sometimes better!

It's fun to try out a stitch experiment. Stitch is ideal for detail, developing texture and for some color tweaking. Feel free to stitch on top of any punchwork for artistic effects and increased durability. The BERNINA BSR was used in the image here.

Laundering &/or Vacuuming

Punch a sample with materials and techniques you plan to use for your intended project x 3 (or create one larger sample and cut into 3). If you think stitch might also be included, add some now. 1. Machine wash one …maybe in a net bag, gentle wash, cool or warm. Then cut the washed sample in two. Machine dry just one half and air dry the other. 2. Hand wash the second …cool or tepid water and air dry 3. Vacuum the third …with or without screen material over the work, or a nylon over the vacuum wand, suction reduced Compare results. Are the materials secured? Can you pull them apart at all? Which do you prefer visually? Make adjustments. Could you add a little more fiber up top, or stitch? Adjust selection of materials and techniques for your intended project. Depending upon the materials and techniques, anything is possible with punchwork in terms of washing and drying, including a hot machine wash & dry for 3D wool embellishments!

My general guidelines for wash and wear may work for you too.


If a project is in need of...

  • Frequent washing, my sample should machine wash and maybe even machine dry

  • Occasional cleaning, hand wash and air dry is fine


  • Items such as decorative pillows should withstand routine vacuuming or laundering

  • Textiles for the wall and not under glass should at least withstand vacuuming with a mesh screen over the work, or a nylon over the vacuum wand, suction reduced

  • Anything more delicate than that will be under glass in a shadow box frame style

Learn by doing! Create alongside...

Fiberella technique videos & digital designs include suggested materials and methods for wash and wear

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