Plastic canvas is doing needlepoint on a stiff plastic grid. This is a great craft for someone unfamiliar with needlecraft. I’ve worked with girls from first grade and up on simple plastic canvas projects.
1. Plastic canvas.
Plastic canvas can be in sheets or specific shapes. Normally, it is referred to by the size . . . 5-count, 7-count, 10-count and 14-count. The “count” is actually how many squares there are per inch. So, a 7-count would have 7 holes per inch. 7-count is the most commonly used plastic canvas. The larger count sheets can be stitched with cords and yarn. For the smaller, you may want to look at thread, embroidery floss and other finer strings. It also comes in a variety of colors. Explore different kinds of canvas. See what you like the look of and will work with your projects the best.
NOTE: Do not use colored sheets unless the pattern specifies that you need to do so.
There are two ways of working with plastic canvas. Some people like to cut the pieces out first and then stitch on them. Some like to stitch and then cut off the unused material. Each has its good and bad points. As you look through the rest of the steps and experiment, keep this in mind.
NOTE: If you plan to cut first, you may want to mark your canvas with dry erase markers. Be sure to remove the marks before you stitch.
3. Cutting canvas.
Be sure to use sharp scissors when cutting plastic canvas. The “size” is normally in holes . . . so 10 x 10 means you need 10 holes each way. It is easier to cut diagonal along the plastic canvas and it will give you a smoother edge when you are attaching the seams on a project. Keeping each box straight will give you a stronger edge, but won’t look so smooth. This is another choice you’ll need to make.
NOTE: If you happen to make a mistake, cutting through a piece you didn’t want to, use a bit of hot glue to put it back together.
4. Threads and yarns.
Different kinds of thread and yarns can be used depending on the size holes in your plastic canvas. You want to make sure your yarn has good coverage. You don’t usually want to see the canvas. You’ll want to work with about 18” pieces (so they don’t become too tangled as you work). Make sure your needles will hold the yarn or thread you intend to use as well as fit through the holes in the canvas. I purchased plastic needles, thinking they would work for the girls only to find out they wouldn’t fit through the canvas holes.
5. A few stitches.
The basic stitch is called “continental” or “half cross stitch”. You merely stitch diagonally across one “x”. To see how it will look as well as a few other basic steps, check out the link listed.
6. No knots.
You will not be using knots when starting or stopping your stitching. Instead, you will wrap around the tail on the backside when you start or pull it through the end when you’re finished. This will hold the ends down without the ugly look of knots.
As you stitch, the yarn / thread will become tangled. When it starts, merely drop your needle and let it untwist. When it’s done, start stitching again.
Usually, a plastic canvas pattern is a grid with the stitches drawn over the bars. The pieces are often drawn to size and shape. It’s easy to see the stitches needed to be made. Do a search online for free plastic canvas patterns and see some examples of patterns.
9. Flat designs.
Flat designs are the most popular and easiest to make. Explore these and find one to try. These might include:
- Fridgies (refrigerator magnets)
- Door hangers
- Wall hangings
Check out the trefoil Grab ‘n’ Go sheet as a free pattern to try. You can make it as a fridgie or a coaster. Try this pattern or any fl at plastic canvas pattern.
As you get more comfortable with plastic canvas, you may start looking at more three dimensional patterns. The die below is one such pattern. Another you can experiment with are tissue box holders. These go over a tissue box to cover the box itself. Try a tissue box pattern.
There is a pattern for a six-sided die that goes with this badge program. Unlike most patterns you will find, this is not full coverage. It is to get you familiar with cutting, stitching and assembly. If you feel intimidated with the patterns you find online, start with this one. I like using the die for super-size games.
12. Save the scraps.
You can use the scraps, so don’t throw them away. This includes both the canvas and the yarn. You don’t have to stick with plastic canvas crafts either, so look at these carefully before just “pitching” them.
13. Staying organized.
Zip top bags are great to keep pieces, needles, scissors and fiber together. You can work on your project any time you wish. Be sure to keep your thread pieces of the same color in a bag and mark it . . . especially if you have pieces that are similar in color. Also, you want to keep a “trash” bag for the extra pieces you cut off .
14. Finishing the edge.
You may find that doing a single whip stitch isn’t covering your edges. Try doubling it. However, be aware that too many stitches through the same hole can cause the plastic canvas to break. Experiment with your materials to see what you like best.
Spraying your final project with Scotchgard® will help keep them clean. However, sometimes you still need to “clean” your projects. DO NOT put them into anything hot as it will melt the plastic. You can soak them in the sink with cold water and mild detergent, put your washing machine on delicate and cold or any other method that doesn’t damage the canvas itself.
Sites to Explore