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  • Writer's pictureRhona Norrie

How to stitch on plastic canvas

Stitching on plastic canvas is fun and easy, but just a little bit different than stitching on aida or linen fabrics. You may wonder why you’d want to stitch on plastic canvas rather than using aida - well, for some things such as 3D objects or plant pokes, you need the finished product to be a bit more rigid than aida or evenweave will allow.

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Here are some examples of my designs from The World of Cross Stitching and Cross Stitch Crazy magazines that have been stitched on plastic canvas:

Plastic canvas is also great if you are teaching little ones to stitch… it’s less floppy in their hands and the holes are easier for them to find. You can even use plastic needles (which tend to be longer than regular cross stitch needles making them easier for their little hands) so it’s totally safe for them to try - with adult supervision of course!

Plastic canvas can be bought in regular rectangular sheets and also fun shapes such as hearts and circles (take a look at these ones!). Just like aida, plastic canvas comes in different counts. The most commonly available size is 14 count, and for this you would need to use a size 24 tapestry needle.

Any design can be stitched on plastic canvas as long as it is made up of only full cross stitch and back stitch – fractionals don’t work as you can’t pierce the plastic! Try the free designs in our Beginner's Guide (heart, tulip, fox) as they use only full cross stitches, so they are perfect for trying out stitching on plastic canvas.

Since you can’t put plastic canvas in a hoop or a frame, it has to be held in your hand while stitching.

The fun part about using plastic canvas is that you can use any kind of thread. If you're using regular six stranded embroidery thread, you may want to use three or even four strands of thread for better coverage (sometime two strands doesn’t quite fill the hole in the plastic so three or more strands looks better).

If you're using an even number of strands of thread you can start with the loop method, but if you're using an odd number of strands then you'll have to start using a waste knot like this…

Tie a small knot at the end of your thread (I used a larger than normal knot so that it would show up clearly on the pictures – any size of knot will work! As long as it’s big enough not to be pulled through the hole in the aida or plastic canvas). Then, starting on the front of your stitching, push your needle down through one of the holes about six or seven holes from where you want to start stitching. Bring your needle up at the point where your first stitch will be made, and then continue stitching towards the knot making sure that the length of thread from the waste knot is being ‘caught’ by the stitches.

(back view)

When you get close to the knot, simply snip the knot with embroidery scissors and ensure that any little ‘tail’ that's left is pulled to the back of the canvas.

Trimming your plastic to the shape of your design is super easy, all you need to do is snip the canvas leaving at least one square from the edge of your stitching. Small sharp scissors work best (your trusty kitchen scissors are not your friend here :) ) and you can snip off any bumps left along the edge of the plastic.

Why not try stitching our Cute Fox free chart on plastic canvas? And if you’re feeling bold, try our Snowman advent countdown which combines stitching with regular fabric and stitching on plastic canvas - the chart is available for purchase in our Etsy store.

Share your project on social media with us using #TangledThreadsAndThings and submit your work to our Crafters' Corner, too!

Happy stitching!

This post contains affiliate links to cross stitch products. If you make a purchase using the links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!

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