Get in a Needle Punching Mood With a Beginner-Friendly Pillow Sham

In the mood to hang, or just want to be alone and give yourself some TLC? Say it with a pillow! Punch an enthusiastic "yes!" on one side and a "no" on the other to tell everyone your mood, then flip and display as needed.

Punch Needle Mood Pillow

Level: Easy

Love is in the air! Christie and Isa are crafting romance-themed pillow shams with lots of texture using punch needle techniques.
Valentines Day Pillows
Valentines Day Pillows
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What You Need

Good to Know

When using a punch needle, you’ll need a no-slip hoop or gripper strip frame. A regular embroidery hoop won’t keep the fabric tight enough for the loops to stay in place.


1. Get Ready to Punch

Place your Y-E-S letter stencils so they face backward on the wrong side of one piece of wool fabric. Place your N-O letter stencils backward on the second piece of wool fabric. Using a Sharpie or chalk pen (if the fabric is too dark for the Sharpie), trace the letters.

Good to Know

If you use the pattern instead of stencils, you can use a lightbox or fabric transfer paper to transfer the design to your fabric.

Once your letters are transferred onto the wool, hoop up one piece of fabric. (It’s OK if all the letters don’t fit in the hoop — you can move the hoop around.) 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 Letter Outline

Flip your hoop so the wrong side of the wool faces up. Begin punching the outline of your letter. 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.

Pro Tip

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 letter is done, fill in the inside. To end a color, 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”. Trim the end so it is the same height as your loops so it won’t come undone or show.

Pro Tip

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 letters lumpy.

4. Clean Up the Front

After you’re done punching, the front side of your letter 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 letter, 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. When you’re done, remove your letter from the hoop (if you need to move your hoop).

5. Repeat

When you’ve finished your first letter, hoop up the second letter (if needed) and repeat steps 2-4. Keep repeating until all of your punch needle letters are complete.

6. Steam Press

Steam pressing your letters 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 letter.

With your iron on the highest setting, hold it down in one spot for about 15 seconds. Pick up your iron, move it to a different spot and repeat until you’ve steam pressed the entire area. Continue until you’ve steam pressed all your letters.

7. Trim

Using scissors, trim all the way around the wool, leaving a 1½” seam allowance to make the pillow panel.

8. Prep the Back

Cut your backing fabric to match the size of the punch needle piece. Pin the punched panel to the backing, right sides together.

9. Stitch It Together

Stitch the outer edges of the pillow, leaving a 4” gap along one edge.

10. Flip and Stuff

Turn the pillow right side out by bringing it through the unsewn gap. Stuff to desired fullness. Close the gap by hand sewing a neat row of whipstitches.

Find Your Next Project

Keep on punchin’ with more fun home decor projects.

Whether you're hosting a whole crew of friends or simply serving your favorite dishes for a relaxing night in, there's nothing cuter than setting said meals on top of trivets that totally speak to your personality. These pig's head and lamb's tongue designs from our Maker Knows Best series are easy to make using basic punch needle techniques. Grab the templates, thread your needle and start punching!
Forget run-of-the-mill pet beds — your furry friend deserves a custom design. Whether you're making one for Ollie or Spot or Freckles, this needle punched bed is so comfy and cozy it's sure to be put to good use.
Craft worlds collide, and it's never been cozier. Pay homage to a traditional wedding ring quilt block with a punch needle pillow sham. It adds a DIY touch to your bed and makes a romantic gift for your partner on Valentine's Day. So the only question is: why wouldn't you stitch it?

February 10, 2020
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Get in a Needle Punching Mood With a Beginner-Friendly Pillow Sham