How to Do Punch Needle on Denim | Tutorial + Video

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Did you know you can do punch needle on denim?  You totally can!

How to Do Punch Needle on Denim

It’s a fun way to add some fun color to your jeans, or you can use a piece of denim as your foundation fabric for a cool looking background.

Today’s project is kind of a DIY upcycle type of thing because you can cut up your old jeans to use as foundation fabric, or you can decorate your still wearable jeans.  

Punch Needle Heart on Jeans tutorial

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I used a pair of my husband’s old 100% cotton Levi jeans for this tutorial.  If your jeans are a blend of cotton and other stuff I’m not sure if this will work as well, especially if they are very stretchy. 

Use 100% cotton jeans to do this punch needle project

I recommend sticking to 100% cotton because I know it will work.

Another awesome option would be to do this on a denim jacket!  If I had a denim jacket, I’d be trying that right away. I’m going to keep an eye out for one so I can try it out.

Are you wondering if you can wash your jeans after you punch needle embroider them?  Yes, you can!

Make sure you add a layer of washable fabric glue on the back like I show in the tutorial. 

Punch needle embroidery is surprisingly sturdy, but if it’s going to be thrown in the wash a bunch of times, the glue is pretty important.

I made a punch needle sweatshirt a while back and at first, I turned it inside out every time I washed it.  Besides that, I just washed it with everything else (laundry is not my strong suit).

It’s held up perfectly fine and now I’m even lazier about washing it and I haven’t even been turning it inside out.  It’s for science, that’s what I’m telling myself. The glue keeps all the stitches nice and secure.

Make sure your embroidery floss is colorfast if you’ll be washing it. 

DMC is what I used and it works great. You can find DMC floss at most craft stores and on Amazon.

I used the Ultra Punch for this tutorial and I recommend you do the same.  It has a nice sharp needle that easily goes through the denim and it’s just a great punch needle that won’t let you down.  

While we’re here, do you want a free printable punch needle pattern? Grab yours by signing up for my weekly newsletter down below!

Alright, let’s get started!

Supplies You’ll Need to do Punch Needle Embroidery on Jeans:

Punch Needle on Jeans Tutorial:

Step 1: Hoop Your Jeans

Decide where on your jeans that you want to do your punch needle embroidery.  Turn the jeans inside out.

Separate the rings of the small embroidery hoop and secure the part of the jeans where you’ll be punching in the hoop.  Tighten the fabric as much as you can.

If you’re using a wooden hoop like I am, it’s difficult to get it super drum-tight so you’ll have to retighten it a few times.  Since this is a small design it works alright.

Step 2: Thread Your Punch Needle

If you need help with this part, check out my Punch Needle for Beginners post. 

(PS– I also have a video showing how to make your own DIY punch needle threaders!)

I used the largest needle in my Ultra Punch and set it to a stitch height of 2.

Step 3: Draw Your Design

Draw the punch needle design on the denim

I decided to keep it simple and do a cute little heart design. You can do the same or draw whatever design you like. 

Remember, the finished design will be mirrored, so plan accordingly.

Step 4: Outline the Shape

Punch around the outline of the shape. 

Keep these stitches close together so the border of your shape will be nice and neat.

Step 5: Fill in the Shape

Fill in the shape punch needle on jeans

After the outline is done, start filling in the shape.  Make these stitches a little farther apart than the outline stitches. 

Punch around and around in a spiral until it’s totally filled in.

Step 6: Check for Bald Spots

Flip your design over and check the front for any bald spots that need to be filled in.  Add a few more stitches to those areas.

Step 7: Trim Any Long Ends

Trim the long ends | punch needle on denim

Trim any long ends on the finished side even with the loops. 

Now’s a good time to use the end of your punch needle to poke all the loops into their proper place.  

Step 8: Add Glue to the Back

Fabric glue to put on the back of the punch needle so it can be washed

Flip your design over and spread a generous layer of fabric glue on the back. 

Let it dry (or if you’re feeling impatient like I was, use a hairdryer.)

Step 9: Take off the hoop and marvel at your handiwork!


Finished punch needle on jeans design

When you remove the hoop, you’ll probably notice a circle imprint around the design.  That will go away if you wash your jeans or you could even just wet them down and let them dry.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial showing how to do punch needle embroidery on your jeans! 

Please take a moment to subscribe to Marching North on YouTube to make sure you never miss any new tutorial videos. I post a new video weekly! 

You’ll find several punch needle videos, and I’m working on some beginner crochet tutorials and macrame tutorials, and I have lots of other fun fiber craft posts in the works. 

Anything that involves yarn, thread, or string is my favorite! If you feel the same way, be sure to check it out.

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  1. very good video and tips.. Got to try that with denim.. Can you do the design on the Right side of Denim or other fabric??

    1. You can either have the loops as the right side or the flat stitch side. If you’ll be washing the finished item, I recommend sticking with the loops on the front because it’s easier to apply a layer of washable fabric glue to the flat side just in case.

      Here’s another post on my site that shows how to do embroidery style stitches with a punch needle you can check out next!

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