Tufting Gun and Punch Needle FAQs

All Things EFFY Help & Support

Rug Tufting is a brilliant shiny world of creating your own rugs at home using manual tool or electronic handheld Tufting Guns.

Why have Tufting Guns specifically become so wildly popular? In my opinion it is because it is something almost anyone can do and it provides instant gratification. Within 15 minutes you can see your design take shape and you can make your own wee rugs in a couple of hours. Brilliant eh?

Within Tufting Guns, Punch Needles, and Speed Tufting tools you are not limited to just making rugs, you can make pillows, wall hanging & wall art, stool covers, chair covers....just thing of any surface you can attach a fluffy tufted piece to...the sky is the limit. 

You don't need to be an artist to get into rug tufting. Just pick a design from something you like or one of our available patters, trace it to the fabric and "paint by numbers with yarn". Just keep in mind copyright laws and respect other artists original works!

 

Rug Tufting is used to produce a hand-tufted rug. 

Fabric is stretched on a frame, a design is applied and a tufting gun is used to shoot yarn through the fabric while passing either horizontally or vertically. 

As you move the gun it leaves a yarn loop (or cut loop) at the back and a stitch on the front for every cycle of the gun. These cycles happen quickly approximately 5-40 stitches per second depending on the Tufting Gun you are using.

Here is what you 100% Need:

  • Foundation Fabric specifically designed for Rug Tufting that can withstand the force of the gun.
  • A Tufting Frame to stretch your fabric on. Your cloth should be tight as a drum.
  • A Tufting Gun or/and a Punch Needle or/and a Manual Speed Tufting Tool.
  • Yarn
  • A Design
  • Latex Adhesive (to seal the back of your rug)
  • A Secondary Backing to make the back of your rug more aesthetically pleasing.
  • Spray Adhesive to apply the secondary backing
  • Fabric Glue to attach your rug binding
  • Rug Binding

Some optional but very handy tools are:

  • Curved scissors for trimming 
  • A Rug Carver for evening out your rug
  • Rug Yarn - For a durable, lasting rug

Cut pile:

  • Cut pile guns have scissors that cut off the yarn/wool after the needle on the gun has punched the yarn/wool through the cloth, resulting in hundreds of single tufts.
  • The finished rug has a cut finish that is soft and fluffy.
  • The cut pile threads have a higher pile (height) than the loop pile threads.
  • The cut pile rug can be further shaped with either scissors or a rug carver.

Loop pile:

  • Loop pile tufting guns create little loops with a continuous thread.
  • The pile (height) of the loops are half the height of the cut pile tufts.
  • The finished rug is soft and very durable but not as fluffy as a cut pile.

Consider mixing the two textures!

Make a square timber frame

  • It is best made out of timber and screwed together for stability.
  • It needs to have feet either side at the bottom for clamping to the table.
  • Make sure the frame is slightly larger than the finished work to allow for finishing off the edges (and also so you don't scratch your hands on the carpet tack or gripper strips on the edge of the frame)
  • More than one rug can be made on the one larger frame.
  • The frame requires the addition of carpet edging strips around the whole frame to secure the cloth. The little nails need to point outwards.
  • You can also use gripper strips that hold your cloth in place beautifully! 
  • An eyelet needs to be secured above the tufting gun for the yarn/wool to thread through - this ensures the yarn flows properly through the gun.
  • I sell everything you need in my Ultimate Rug Tufting Starter Pack
  • Or I sell the frames separately.

Two different cloths are required:

The primary cloth:

  • This cloth is attached directly to the frame.
  • It needs to be strong enough to withstand the pressure of the tufting gun. This means it need to be either 60% polyester or 100% polyester.
  • The Primary Tufting Cloth I sell is perfect for all tufting machines! It also has yellow guidelines, especially helpful when stretching the cloth over the frame to keep it horizontal.


The secondary backing cloth:

  • This cloth is also known as the backing.
  • It is applied to the back of the finished work after sealing the rug with glue.
  • It is specifically chosen to be soft  and durable for foot traffic.
  • For the most professional finish use the cotton and polyester mix backing Backing cloth I sell with rug binding.

There are two different ways most people use


1.  Drawing directly onto the back of the cloth with a marker pen (I prefer starting with a water soluble marker!), either making it up as you go or copying a drawing you have designed yourself.

2.  The second way is to project the design onto the back and trace around with a marker pen.

3. Print the design out on paper and tack it to the back of the cloth and trace the pattern by putting a bright light behind the paper/fabric.


N.B. If you have writing in your design remember to have it as a mirror image on the back so it reads the right way on the front.

Also we would like to remind you to respect copyright  and if you are using some one else's design that you have permission to do so.

For a beginner I also suggest that you make the design simpler for your first few pieces until you get the experience to tackle more complex designs.

Getting this right is important

  • Cut the cloth 3 or 4 inches (10cms) larger all around.
  • Using the yellow guidelines on the Monks Cloth level the lines up with the top of the frame and hook into place on the carpet tack strips or gripper strips.
  • Pull the cloth firmly to the bottom and then work around the sides.
  • It needs to be tight like a drum skin to withstand the pressure of the tufting gun.
  • Test by tapping the cloth with your finger. If it needs to be tighter make adjustments by unhooking the cloth, pulling hard and hooking back in place.
  • During the tufting process as you use the gun it may become a bit loose. Just unhook sections, pull firmly and hook back into place, making sure to keep it level. 
  • If you are using gripper strips you don't have to re-stretch you cloth while tufting!
  • A firm cloth helps to avoid other issues when tufting.

The yarn/wool needs to be durable

  • Using tufting guns puts a lot of pressure on the yarn/wool and the finished rug needs to handle the wear and tear of being on the floor.
  • Therefore the yarn/wool needs to be spun well. Carpet yarn/wool is the best for this purpose.
  • The yarn/wool needs to be wound on a cone for the smooth consistent feeding to the tufting gun.
  • The yarn/wool can also be a cake if used on a spinning yarn holder to allow for the smooth feeding needed.
  • Skeins are not suitable because the yarn/wool doesn't flow smoothly and will cause the thread to come out of the tufting gun.
  • I have found pure wool to be the most durable yarn for tufting.
  • I recommend our Romney 8ply carpet wool made in New Zealand.
  • If using our Romney wool, use two strands are recommended to ensure good thickness, but you can also use one strand for detailed areas.
  • Pure wool has the added benefit of being fire resistant and a natural fiber.
  • In addition during the tufting process bit of your yarn get into the air. It's much nicer to be breathing in a natural fiber as opposed to a synthetic one.
  • You can use acrylic but be aware most acrylic yarns are slippery and will be harder to tuft with. Acrylic rugs will also not last very long.


  • Firstly make sure the yarn/wool is flowing freely, either on a cone, or cake on a spinning yarn holder. Make sure the cord of the tufting gun is out of the way and it is turned off!
  • The yarn/wool goes through the eyelet at the top of your frame, so the yarn is fed to the tufting gun from above.
  • It then goes through the eyelet on the gun (the small wire spring that sits up from the gun) from the handle side.
  • Finally the yarn/wool is thread through the needle, this is the trickiest part and is best accomplished with a needle threader or piece of wire like a paper clip.
  • Remember to pull out about 2 inches (5cm) of yarn to hang down before starting to tuft.
  • Now you can turn the gun on!

There are several reason why this may happen:

  1. You are not using cloth that can withstand the force of the gun. We recommend sticking with the cloth we sell here that is 70% Polyester and 30% Cotton.
  2. It is also possible your cloth is not stretched tight enough! Make sure your cloth is stretched tight as a drum!! Also keep in mind that on a carpet tack frame as you work your cloth can start to sag and will need to be re-stretched as you work.
  3. Don't overwork an area. The cloth is only so strong so if you spend too much time tufting in one area it will break down. This is also why we suggest to do small areas first.
  4. Make sure you are moving the machine in the right direction. Always tuft upwards or toward the closed side of the needle!
  5. Until you have a feel for the gun avoid doing curves as this can chew up the cloth if done incorrectly. Curves and shapes can easily be made with horizontal or vertical lines. 
  6. If you have tried all the above and you are still having trouble check the foot placement on our gun. sometimes moving it forwards or back just a smidge can make all the difference in the world! - This can particularly happen if you have tried to alter the pile height of your gun.

If you have tried all the above, then feel free to contact me at hello@allthingseffy.com for more help

Once your have an area that is ripped - STOP TUFTING IN THAT AREA

Finish the rest of the piece and then create a small patch on a different section of the cloth. This patch can then be sewn in or glued in.

Another option if the hole is small enough is to take a curved needle and a string of your tufting cloth. Sew the hole up gently and tuft gently as much as you can around the hole.

Here are some reasons why this might be happening:


  1. You aren't pushing hard enough! - Tufting guns can definitely be daunting when you first start and beginners can often feel quite tentative. You need to push firmly into the cloth and ensure the foot is always in contact with the cloth. If you are using the right cloth you can apply a lot of pressure to the fabric and cloth! and I mean a lot!
  2. Make sure you are tufting in the right direction! - Always tuft up or in the direction of the closed side of the needle.
  3. You are using inferior fabrics - using the right cloth can solve a lot of problems! 
  4. Make sure your cloth is stretch as tight as possible and remember to re-stretch your cloth as you tuft! It will loosen as you work on the fabric.

To avoid having to re-thread your tufting gun:

  • Check that nothing is interfering with the smooth flow of yarn/wool from cone to gun.
  • Is the cord of the gun getting in the way of the yarn/wool?
  • Has the cone fallen over? Or are you using a skein and it keeps getting caught? Make sure the source of the yarn/wool is free for a smooth consistent flow. We recommend a cone or a cake on a Spinning Yarn Holder
  • Is the yarn/wool tangled at the eyelet on the frame?
  • If all the above issues have been sorted then it may be that your yarn/wool is too thin and falls out because there is not enough weight.
  • We recommend two strands of our Romney 8ply.

A little trick to avoid having to re-thread your gun a lot is to pause before you pull your gun out of the fabric. Pull the gun out slowly and catch the ends of the yarn with your fingers. This keeps the yarn from slipping out and needing to re-thread! Also once you have grasped the ends give a little tug on the yarn coming from the cones to ensure nothing is stuck. I'll provide a video link for this soon!