The first rule of camping: you've gotta bring your stargazing A-game. That means having a cozy blanket, preferably one with needle-punched constellations. This design features the Big and Little Dippers on wool fabric — follow our template or go wild and punch the whole Milky Way.
Punch Needle Camping Blanket
Measures: Star template is approximately 1½” across, pattern is 36” x 42”
What You Need
- Big and Little Dipper pattern and paper stars template (get them when you sign up for free )
- Wool fabric
- #14 fine “mini” Oxford punch needle (will make a ⅛” high loop)
- 2-ply rug yarn
- No-slip hoop
- Embroidery floss or sock-weight yarn for edging
- Embroidery scissors
- White fabric pencil or chalk pen
- Iron-on fusible interfacing
Good to Know
When using a punch needle with wool fabric, you’ll need a no-slip hoop. A regular embroidery hoop won’t keep the fabric tight enough for the loops to stay in place, while a gripper frame will provide too much grip to work well.
1. Transfer the Pattern
Lay out the wool fabric, right side facing down. Pin the paper stars in place to create the Big and Little Dipper, following your pattern. Remember, you need to lay out the design in reverse, so it reads correctly on the front side.
If you don’t have enough paper stars to map out your entire design, use safety pins to help keep track of your placements.
Trace around the stars using a white fabric pencil or chalk pen. Remove the paper templates.
2. Hoop Up
Once your pattern is transferred onto the wool, hoop up your first section. Then, hold the punch needle with the groove facing up and thread the yarn down through the eye of the needle. Pull the working yarn back until you feel it slide into the groove. (It should move freely through the needle.)
2. Punch the First Star
Flip your hoop so the wrong side of the wool faces up. Begin punching the outline of your star. To do this, you want to punch your needle through the fabric, pushing it all the way down so the handle hits the fabric. Bring the needle back up, drag the tip across the fabric about ⅛”, then insert it again.
As you punch, keep the needle with the groove facing up and punch away from you. Turn your work over regularly to make sure your loops are all the same height on the right side. If they’re uneven, you’re either lifting the needle too high or not punching down all the way.
3. Fill It In
Once the outline of the star is done, fill in the inside. To end, poke the yarn through to the other side with your scissors. You’ll wind up with an end on the other side that is longer than your loops — we refer to this as a “tail”. Simply trim the tail to the same height as your loops, so it doesn’t come undone or show.
When using a #14 fine “mini” Oxford punch needle, your punches should be right next to each other, leaving a row in between your stitches to prevent overpacking, which makes your stars lumpy.
4. Clean Up the Front
After you’re done punching, the front side of your star will look messy with long ends (aka tails) sticking out and some uneven loops. There may even be loops in the wrong place. Don’t freak out — everyone’s work looks a little funky at this stage.
There are two techniques to help clean things up:
Snipping: Before you move your hoop to the next star, flip it over so the front faces up. Use embroidery scissors to cut off all the tails that are longer than the loops. If you have some too-tall loops, cut them to the same height as the others.
Poking: For loops in the wrong place, use the point of your embroidery scissors to reposition them, playing around until your design looks better and the loops are where you want them.
Continue punching stars until your entire design is complete. Move your hoop around as needed. When you’re finished, remove your fabric from the hoop.
6. Steam Press
Steam pressing your stars will make them uncurl and lie flat. Run a towel under cold water, then wring it out. With the front facing up, lay the towel on top of your first star.
With your iron on the highest setting, hold it down over one star for about 15 seconds. Pick up your iron, move it to a different star and repeat until you’ve steam pressed the entire area.
7. Apply the Interfacing
Cut out a piece of iron-on fusible interfacing that’s slightly larger than each punched star. On the wrong side of the punched wool, iron a patch of interfacing to the punched area of each star to make sure the loops won’t loosen over time.
8. Stitch the Edges
Good to Know
It’s totally OK if you decide to stitch the edges before you punch the blanket — whatever order works for you!
Find Your Next Project
Needle punch more accessories with these fun tutorials.