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Waste Canvas Tutorial (Cross Stitch)

I was preparing to put a small cross stitch motif on a crazy quilt block when I remembered I had promised to do a tutorial on doing this with waste canvas, so here it is. You need to find a small cross stitch pattern you like that will fit in the space you have and figure out how large a piece of waste canvas you will need. Most cross stitch charts are graphed into 10 X 10 squares like the ones above. Waste canvas looks like needlepoint canvas except a little lighter-weight and is marked off in 5 stitch divisions by the blue threads. It comes in several sizes, 14 count being the most common and what I am using here. The canvas has double threads between each hole but you treat them as one unless you are doing a quarter or three-quarter stitch - they come in handy then as you can put your needle between the double threads to make the half stitch.

I allowed myself half an inch on all four sides beyond the outer edge of where the motif will reach. Center the waste canvas on the spot you want your motif and baste around the edges to hold it in place.

Cross stitch the design from the chart as usual, except where you would usually be counting the threads in your linen or other cloth, you will be using the holes provided in the waste canvas much the same way you do with Aida cloth. One note I would make is that I use a sharp embroidery needle instead of a cross stitch or tapestry needle. The sharp needle will make it easier to needle through the underlying fabric of the block. Take care not to pierce the threads of the waste canvas with your needle. It will make it more difficult to remove the canvas threads later.

Complete your cross stitch design, including any backstitching required and remove your basting thread.

You can now start pulling out the threads of the waste canvas, starting on the outer edges and working in. The picture above shows the threads removed until the cross stitched area is reached. Some instructions tell you to moisten the waste canvas before pulling out your threads but I have not found this necessary and I am reluctant to try it in case the water spots the silks or other fabrics in the crazy quilt block.

Continue pulling out the threads under the cross stitch design one at a time. This is where it is much easier if you have not pierced any of the threads of the canvas. I find it helpful to hold my thumb on the cross stitches as I pull out the threads. You can start to see your design more clearly as the canvas is removed.

And here it is - my finished motif! I did cross stitch for years and years and sometimes it is nice to do a little again. Since I became obsessed with crazy quilting I have left cross stitch behind for the most part.
Waste canvas can be used to do counted cross stitch on any fabric that is not evenweave. I have used it on socks, baby clothes and many other items.


Anonymous said…
WOW, Kerry thanks for the tutorial. I love Cross stitch and is what i did before crazy Quilting. I had no idea this could be done. Thank you so much for sharing this:)
CarolynPhi said…
Hi Kerry:

WOW!!! That is really cool!!!! I've been wondering about "waste" canvas for a while now, but couldn't for the life of me figure out what it was or where you got it?!!! And/Or, why do you call it "waste?" LOL! Is it called "waste" because you were going to throw it out anyway? Can you tell I'm not a cross stitcher? I think this is something I'd like to try!

Can you use just any canvas that has the proper thread spacing, or must you use this particular canvas because the threads release easier?

Thanks so much,
Connie said…
Kerry - thanks for the tutorial -- I didn't know you could do this either. I will definitely have to try it as I just picked up some crossstitch designs. (-:
Anonymous said…
Nice work on this tutorial, and also the cute cross- stitch. I always love those elements in your CQ. Lynn, SoCal
Anonymous said…
It was very interesting for me to read that article. Thank author for it. I like such topics and anything connected to them. I would like to read a bit more soon.
Unknown said…
really a nice idea.. but seems to take a lot of time

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