Punch needle vs Embroidery

Punch needle vs Embroidery: The Differences Between Them

Embroidery has been a part of our lives for more than decades; in fact, we can see examples of embroidery and creative stitching dating back thousands of years. Although mostly a domain for women, both men and women have been embroidering fancy designs for as long as they can remember.

Embroidery has gone through numerous changes over the years. From the simplest form of embroideries with needles and thread, we now have faster and more modernized forms of embroidering. With electrical embroidery machines, for example, it is now easy to recreate any design on your fabric, in any style or color.

Other people, on the other hand, prefer the more traditional ways of embroidering by using their hands. For them, the most preferred methods that require direct involvement of fingers and hands include both traditional Embroidery and the use of a punch needle.

What is Embroidery? 

Embroidery is the age-old technique of recreating a pattern or design on fabric using needles and threads. We can see examples of embroidery on blankets, clothing and tapestry from the time of the oldest civilizations, although the patterns and styles varied from culture to culture.

Throughout history, we see examples of stunning embroidery on clothes, coats, hats, blankets and dresses, caps, dress shirts, golf shirts and even stockings. There has been over thousands of different stitches and styles over the years, and many times, embroidery has included the use of pearls, sequins, beads and quills.

What is Punch Needle? 

Punch Needle is a kind of embroidery that’s somewhat similar to rug hooking, a technique that was first discovered hundreds of years ago. Even today, this particular form of embroidery is popular among some people who are comfortable with this technique. There are many patterns and styles to choose from when trying punch embroidery, and the end look is completely different than with traditional embroidery.

Punch Needle Embroidery requires some initial practice to learn, and is more difficult than regular embroidering. However, once anyone masters it, punch embroider can be used to fill up a space much more quickly.

Difference between Traditional Embroidery and Punch Needle 

The difference between these two types of embroidery can be visible in the end result, but there are some other big differences between them.

  • Supplies

As we all know, embroidery mainly requires the help of a needle, colorful threads, and some other additional supplies, i.e. an embroidery hoop, scissors, needle threader, etc. There are a lot of important and helpful tools and supplies available for someone interested in quality embroidering.

On the other hand, punch needle embroidering requires a completely different set of tools, mainly a punch needle tool, thicker yarns, thick foundation fabric, an embroidery hoop and a pattern.

  • Fabric

Traditional embroidery can be done on any kind of fabrics, cotton, silk, linen or nylon. Soft or course, thick or thin – you can use embroidery needles and threads on any kind of fabric you want.

Alternatively, for punch needle embroidery, you need a completely different kind of fabric. This fabric needs to be coarse and non-stretchable, preferably woven. Examples of some good fabrics for punch needle embroidery would be Monk’s cloth, Burlap and Linen, which are all thick and coarse.

  • Needle

The needle for traditional embroidery can be of different size and thickness. They come with a hole at one end for the thread to go through, whereas the other end is pointy and sharp enough to go through the fabric. Depending on the thickness of the fabric, needles are chosen of different sharpness, length and width.

Needles needed for punch needle Embroidery also has a sharp metal tip, but the hole for the yarn is located on the sharp end. The other end comes with a handle, usually made of wood. The thick wooden handle makes it easier for the user to grab the punch needle in their hand to use it.

Punch Needles also come in different sizes, length and thickness to accommodate fabrics and yarns of different thickness. With the difference in thickness of fabrics, you can use yarns and threads of different thickness as well, which requires different needle sizes.

  • Thread

The stitching thread depends on the fabric that you are using, as well as the size of your needle. You can use both fine embroidery thread and coarse yarn in punch needle embroidery, but the coarse threads are used more.

For finer embroidery thread, you need thinner punch needles to work on cotton or silk; for using bulky yarn or wool yarn, you need bigger and thicker needles and coarse materials.

  • Hoop

The hoops for punch needle embroidery are similar to embroidery hoops, but they are usually larger. Since it takes less time to completely fill up space with this kind of embroidery, the hoops are much larger so that you don’t have to change the position too many times.

  • End Result

The end result of traditional embroidery and punch needle embroidery are completely different from each other. While the thread used in traditional embroidery is fine and this, the stitches are usually detailed. You can recreate any kind of patterns, designs, texts or pictures in embroidery, even something as detailed as individual petals of a single flower.

On the other hand, punch needle embroidery uses coarse fabric and bulky yarn, which means that it takes fewer stitches to fill up a particular amount of space.

The stitches are bigger and thicker, and they stand out from the fabric; if you use colorful and vibrant yarns, the end result is quite attractive, but doesn’t have the details that you can find in traditional embroidery.

  • Time

It takes much longer to complete a project using traditional embroidery methods compared to punch needle embroidery, especially if you want to fill up space. With a larger punch needle and bulky thread, you need fewer stitches and less time to complete a design and fill up a space with punch needle embroidering.

  • Texture

The end result of punch needle embroidery, when finished, is highly textured. As the stitches are made of loops, they stand out from the fabric and can be felt with your skin easily.

Even if you are using finer threads, the texture is going to be felt from the outside because of the method used in making the stitches. This is completely different from traditional embroidery, where the stitches are extremely fine and usually hides with the fabric.


Punch needle embroidery is completely different from traditional embroidery, in almost every single way possible. Still, it is one of the most popular styles of creative embroidering for designing tapestries, cushion covers, hats or scarves, and even regular clothes.

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