Punch Needle Embroidery

Modern example of punch needle embroidery. Modern example of punch needle embroidery.

Punch needle embroidery (also known as needle punching, needle punch work, punch needle work, punch work, or igolochky) is a technique involving the punching and looping of a thread or ribbon (c. 2 mm in width) in a particular design through a ground cloth.

To produce this work, a piece of loosely woven cloth, with a design drawn on the reverse, is placed in a tensioning frame of some kind (such as an embroidery hoop). With the help of a punch needle, a series of loops is made on the obverse side of the cloth, using the fingers to hold the loops initially in place. When the design is finished, the cloth is removed from the frame and turned over. The series of loops (the pile) gives the design a carpet-like appearance. Sometimes the loops are left whole, on other occasions they are cut.

The origins of punch needle embroidery are not clear. Some people trace its origins to ancient Egypt, while others cite medieval Europe (especially Britain, Germany or Russia) as its place of origin. In the USA, for example, the term ‘Russian punch needle work’ is sometimes used to describe a particular type of punch needle embroidery that uses a very fine thread, for instance one strand taken from a six-stranded DMC yarn (see for example Harer 1972, p. 253).

See also 'Ancient Egyptian' punch needle embroidery; igolochka; a Russian Orthodox Religious Panel (now in the TRC collection).


  • BIRD, Gail (1981). Russian Punchneedle Embroidery, Mineola (NY): Dover Publications Inc.
  • HARER, Michele Morrow (1972). Big Book of Quilting: Hundreds of Tips, Tricks and Techniques!, Iola (Wisconsin): Krause.
  • STEWARD, Marinda (2009). Punchneedle. The Complete Guide, Cincinnati (Ohio), Krause Publications.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 6 July 2016).



Last modified on Sunday, 23 October 2016 16:57
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