The Avid Embroiderer Presents – Intro to Bunka Embroidery - It is an art form of great beauty.

Bunka Embroidery is like painting with thread! And, there is good reason why. 

Every detail about Bunka must be taught and practiced for perfection.  This embroidery is not for the faint of heart.  There is nothing like it in machine embroidery because Bunka is completed with four optional sizes of thread – from a single skein.

Before you think I have lost my mind, here is how that is done. 

Bunka is actually a tubular knitted chain, and most commonly comes in skeins but it can also come on larger spools or bobbins. Unless it is being used in tassels or the link it usually is "unchained" to a degree for embroidery use. The end is worked loose, and then gently pull - it unchains itself very much like when one had to open a bag of potatoes or onions that were in the heavy paper bags and "sewn" closed at the top (birdseed is probably more common in today's world). I personally have not seen anything with this closure for YEARS!  This is a diagram from vintage Bunka that shows the process:

I cannot translate Japanese, but this diagram is pulling a single thread, then 2 threads, with the next pulling out 3 threads and lastly, the knitted chain.  This reminds me of opening a bag of sugar, it seems like that was just yesterday.

When I started to research Bunka Embroidery, I thought I was going to teach it in a blog.  Well, I can honestly say that a dozen blogs cannot describe everything you need to know.  I have already spent 4 hours gathering information and I am less than half done on this blog.  When you need a video instruction on how to thread the needle, it is not a simple process. . . Whew!!!

Delicate/advanced Banka Embroidery -


From the original skein (as in hand embroidery, you will use 2-15 depending on your design), create your working bobbin.

Planning the density-to-fill ratio in a drawing that will be followed as you punch your design.

Punching the design using the hand-drawn sample as a guide.

The fluffing stitch (demo in Video) is simple and creates a third dimension for animals that is terrific.  Did I mention that there are NO KNOTS IN BUNKA???

Lastly, Bunka is also done in this round version.  You can see it here.  YouTube is full of Bunka Videos to help you along your way.  This is the site where I felt I got the most and easiest to understand instructions.  My information was gleaned from there and if you are interested in trying this embroidery, videos and helpful data are available at no charge. Is the site where the round ball style was shown.

You may also want to see my blog on Sashiko, it is much easier than this technique.   

April is Autism Awareness Month. 

The eighth annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2015. Every year, autism organizations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events. How will you celebrate? 

Use #LIUB to share your experience across social media and help light the world up blue this April! 

Join us to Light It Up Blue! Visit 

If you want to see some really beautiful and caring photos, check Google, LIUB (light it up blue) for stunning pictures.  Here is a couple of my favorites.

May you be blessed in ways you have not yet imagined. 


Comments (6) -

Hi,  I was so thrilled to see the article on Bunka Embroidery.  I was introduced to it by my husband's secretary.   She was clearing out a bunch of collected crafts from years traveling with her military husband.  While in Japan she took up Bunka and bought probably 40-50 designs with threads for each.  She got tired of them and asked if I would like to try, so I purchased a video and several hooks and got started.  But the best part of the story, is that I was keeping my young grandaughter for her school teacher parents.  Allie wanted to do everything I did, so I let her choose which picture she wanted to do , made a frame for her ,too and showed her how.  Well, little 4 year old Allie took to Bunka like a fish takes to water.  She'd crawl up on the couch and sit for hours working on her project.  It was amazing to watch that baby.   This was one proud grandma.  Also, your comments and info on autism month is very dear to our family.  My younger daughter became involved with some autustic children while working as an occupational therapist.  She then wanted to spend all her time with the children.  Over the years she has gone back to school completed her masters and last year took her boards for National  Board Certified Autusm Specialist.  She absolutely adores what she does.  I know this is not an easy job nor is it easy for a parent to have to face.  Thank you for being and advocate of autism.         Jackie Heath

Jackie - thank you for your heart felt comments.  

What a joy to be able to not only do this art form, but share it as well.  Some day, she will share it with her daughter and say "my grandma taught me."  That is the joy of passing any craft from one generation to another.  Bunka is amazing.  After checking it out, I am seriously considering giving it a try too.  

Today, my friend put up my blue porch light.  My grandson has so many beautiful things about him and I love to be with him as he works through things.  We swim a lot because he loves the water.  He is close to swimming by himself and I am so proud.  He is my champion for so many reasons, he does not need to be a super star to be my pride and joy.

Autism has taught me to be more caring for others.  I learned that not all disabilities are visible, some are well hidden.  We are all disabled in one way or another.

Pat, The Avid Embroiderer

jaimebeth1 4/2/2015 3:18:33 PM

I recently got an embroidery machine and was really excited to learn that I could also use it for cross stitch patterns.  But  all of the cross stitch patterns that I find are in PDF.  My embroidery machine software will not accept PDFs and I have not gotten any digitizing software yet.  Do you sell any cross stitch patterns in the traditional embroidery design formats (xxx, art, emb, etc.)?

Thank you,

I have transferred your question from the blog in 2008 to this current blog.  It makes it easier to find.

Yes, .pdf is a file document for computers and not for machine embroidering.  Some of the common machine ones are .pes, .dst, .sew and others.  Check your manual for the right file for your machine.  

May I suggest that you use this link to find some cross stitch designs right here?
In the Blue Header, the white area is for searches - use 'cross stitch'.

About 300 came up, some of which are free which helps when you are learning to use your machine.

Another place to help you is my beginners tutorial.
You will create, using any design you want, something with step by step instructions.

Hope this helps!  May you be blessed in ways you have not yet imagined.

Pat - See more at:

I would like to learn more about the Bean/Triple stitch sewing, are there any designs for my embroidery machine?

apr1658 - you bet there are designs for most embroidery machines.  There may be some unique machines out there, but you can do the bean/trip stitch.  Here is my blog on that stitch -  

Many of the available bean stitch designs don't even mention that they have the bean stitch in the design.  Then again, they don't mention if they have satin stitches either. . .

Pat, The Avid Embroiderer

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