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Full disclosure… I might be a little bit obsessed with punch needle. A while back ago I tried to think up a whole bunch of crafts that I’d love to tackle since we’re all stuck at home for a while. With my first punch needle on order and was anxiously awaiting its arrival, I chucked that craft in the list at #11. Since that nifty new craft tool arrived, I’ve made a whole lot of freehand punch needle designs inspired by marbled pour art. It really was a good way to introduce myself to the tool and feel confident enough to tackle a proper embroidery pattern.
And since I had already ordered my SECOND punch needle that made shorter loops, I decided I wanted to use both in my first patterned project. Fluffy clouds with a shorter, colorful rainbow seemed just the ticket and I’m so pleased to share with you today my rainbow punch needle pattern. And be sure to stick around because I’ll show you how to turn your punched piece into a rainbow applique when it’s done!
Supplies Needed to Make a Punch Needle Rainbow:
- Punch Needle (Etsy | Amazon)
- Foundation Material (more info below)
- Embroidery Hoop
- Cotton Yarn
- Sock Darning Needle
- Iron-On Stabilizer (optional)
- Double-Sided Interfacing
Choosing your Foundation Material
For all of my projects up to this point I have used monk’s cloth from JoAnn. It’s technically a looser weave than what is recommended for punch needle but I’ve found that it works well enough for me for big pieces like rugs or pillows. Since I wanted to eventually turn my punch needle rainbow into a rainbow applique, I knew I needed something with a tighter weave. I’ve since ordered monk’s cloth with a tighter weave from Etsy. I think it will work well but since I haven’t gotten it, yet, to test it, I can’t say for certain.
Using what I had on hand, I used this 14-count Aida that I’d normally use for cross-stitch. With such a tight weave it was a bit difficult to punch the large needle through the aida BUT it held very well and the fabric made an excellent applique at the end. If you don’t mind punching slowly and deliberately, I’d really suggest using Aida because it did a bang up job. However, there is also an 11-count aida that I think would work better, but since I don’t currently have any to test the theory it’s just that, a theory.
If you use any of these materials please feel free to give us a shout in the comments and let us know what did or did not work for you! (Thanks in advance :)
Choosing a Yarn
If you plan on turning your rainbow into an applique, you’ll need to use a natural yarn like cotton or wool. Unfortunately acrylic yarn is basically plastic and it will damage the yarn. I did some tests, to be sure and it’s kind of like it melts into a blob rather than retaining individual loops. Acrylic yarn just flat out won’t work for a rainbow applique.
If, however, you’ll make your punch needle rainbow to be framed or something where you don’t need to apply interfacing to the back, you can use any yarn you darn well please! :)
For this project and all of my coming punch needle projects in the near future, I’ve used I Love This Cotton from Hobby Lobby. I am really happy with the results and color selection. For this rainbow I used these colors… Mango, Rosey II, Banana, Apple Green, Stonewash, Amethyst, and White.
Free Printable Punch Needle Patterns Are Available to Our Newsletter Subscribers
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How to Make a Punch Needle Applique
Place your foundation material in an 8″ embroidery hoop. Pull the fabric to be as taut as possible within the frame.
Print your free PDF pattern and trace onto the material within the hoop. I just printed my pattern and placed it on a sunny window and traced straight onto the fabric already hooped and ready to go. You can also trace the pattern and then add the material to the hoop. For some reason my OCD was going nuts and I needed the design centered JUST SO. Feel free to do this in whatever order you please :)
Load up your punch needle with purple yarn and begin working from bottom center ring of the rainbow upward. Next will come blue, green, yellow, orange and red.
If you need some more help, please check out this post for learning punch needle.
Fill in the clouds with white stitches to finish the design. Go back anywhere in your arches and fill in any empty spaces with a few extra stitches (this makes the backside not so pretty but it’s the back for a reason, right?!? :)
Variations of Stitches
If you are new to punch needle and only want to purchase a single tool, I’d suggest grabbing the #14 fine Oxford Punch Needle. Use it to embroidery the clouds as described above. When punching the arches of the rainbow, however, punch from the other side. Instead of loops, you’ll have running stitches that are quite pretty. And you won’t need to go back and add any stitches so it will be neat as a pin, too!
How to Prepare Your Design for an Applique
Turning any embroidery item into an applique is super easy…
With the front (pretty) side of the embroidery piece on your work surface, apply Iron-On Stabilizer according to the package directions. Allow to cool completely, then check to make sure it is well adhered to the rainbow AND the surrounding 0.5″ of backing material. Apply more heat, where needed to fully fuse.
Using sharp scissors, trim the rainbow from the backing material. Leave approximately 0.25 inch all around the design as you trim.
Using a needle and yarn or embroidery floss, whip stitch around the rainbow to hide the raw edge. Continue until the edge is hidden all of the way around.
I first started using embroidery floss but I was having a hard time with my arthritis and I wasn’t happy with my stitches. I decided to pull out the embroidery floss and stitched with yarn instead. The end results are still a bit messier than I’d like but I was happy that I could match the yarn perfectly to the arches. And since the color does blend my imperfections aren’t noticeable when viewing the finished rainbow applique from the front (huzzah!)
How to Make a Rainbow Applique from Your Design
Cut a small piece of double-sided interfacing that is slightly larger than your applique on all sides.
With the shiny side down on the back of the rainbow, trace along the whip stitching. Using sharp scissors trim the interfacing out in the shape of your rainbow.
Apply shiny side down and adhere the interfacing according to your package’s directions. You can now store the applique for later use or…
peel away the paper backing and place the applique onto your project. Add heat according to the interfacing’s directions to set in place.
And you’re done! Isn’t that the cutest denim jacket?
Turn Embroidery Into an Applique
- If your embroidery piece is punch needle or if it is on aida cloth or another material that easily frays, apply stabilizer to the back of the applique and the surrounding material according to package directions.
- Using sharp scissors trim the excess cloth around the applique leaving approximately 0.25" all around the design.
- Using a needle and yarn or embroidery floss, whip stitch around the applique to hide the raw edge.
- Place a piece of double-sided interfacing shiny side down on the back of your applique. Trace the design on interfacing and cut out.
- Leaving the paper backing in place, apply the double-sided interfacing to the back of the applique according to package directions. Go around the design to ensure that the interfacing is fully adhered. Apply more heat where necessary until flush.
- When ready to iron the applique onto another surface, remove the paper backing and secure in place using heat.