Embroidery on Canvas: Fall in Love with Needlework

Embroidery on canvas is one of the most traditional forms of needlework. 

Canvas is great for embroidery for a couple of reasons:

    • It’s easy to work with,
    • It’s sturdy, and 
    • It works well with a cutaway stabilizer, which is a permanent embroidery stabilizer, i.e., it stays in the garment after you finish embroidering; you simply cut away the excess backing around the design—explains All Stitch.

Canvas is rugged material able to stand up to heavy use. You can use this textile to make a colorful tote for summer trips to the beach, but also a tent!

The article below describes how to do embroidery on canvas fabric and shares hacks useful for this engaging activity.

If you are already deep into needlework, i.e., work done with a needle, different from plain sewing—be it embroidery, needlepoint, tapestry, quilting, or appliqué—visit the Super Label Store blog and tackle with us:

Read also “5 Embroidery Tips from Leading Contemporary Artists” by Alina Cohen on Artsy:

    1. Buy the basics (check out our list of embroidery supplies),
    2. Consult the experts (Super Label Store blog is there for you 24/7),
    3. Start with the simple subject matter (go through the embroidery library and embroidery patterns to explore your design options), 
    4. Pay attention to your stitch tension (we explore embroidery stitches here),
    5. Embrace your mistakes;

Can you embroidery on canvas?

When we think of “canvas,” what typically comes to our minds are artworks; oil on canvas has been the most common art method throughout the centuries. 

Today, oil paint, with its thick, gluey consistency, still works beautifully paired with canvas. Curious about “Painting on Canvas Tips and Tricks”? Check them out on My Reeves.

Apart from painting, there are many ways to surprise your guests with extraordinary interiors using only plain canvas. Check them out on “DIY: 5 Easy Canvas Decor & Gift Ideas”:

Get familiar with a couple of handy tips by We Heart to learn how hanging canvas prints can transform the style of your home.

What about needlework? Can you do embroidery on canvas?

Canvas is such a great material to embroider on that you can literally embroider any type of design—advises Pam from The Birch Cottage

Canvas comes in a variety of 

    1. weights,
    2. colors, and 
    3. prints;

The most gracious type of canvas for embroidery is a lightweight canvas. You can also come across tightly woven fabric known as a duck. Another material that embroiderers often use is outdoor canvas, treated to withstand the elements better than ordinary fabric. According to Emblibrary, this textile features many cheery colors and prints, so keep it in mind for indoor projects as well.

We list different types of fabric here. We also elaborate on types of cotton fabric

Mounting embroidery on art canvas
Image source: How Did You Make This

All types of canvas are renowned for their sturdiness and strength. Modern canvas is typically made of cotton, but in the past, it’s been made of other fibers such as hemp and linen; the word “duck” comes from the Dutch word for linen canvas.

Note: Before kicking off with your breathtaking embroidery project, pre-shrink your canvas to ensure your design stays flat and pretty after it’s washed. Your canvas is probably made of cotton, so it is prone to exhibiting substantial shrinking. We describe types of cotton fabric here. 

Hand embroidery on canvas
Image source: Stitch Floral

Making embroidery on canvas painting is a great way to spice up your embroidery project.

Check out this exciting idea of embroidery and paint on canvas published on Skillshare for the exciting idea of a whale “Hand Embroidery: Watercolor on Fabric.” It will pump up your enthusiasm for embroidery right away!

A guide to hand embroidery on canvas
Image source: Skillshare

Watch “How to start embroidering on canvas | DIY | Embroidering Tutorial” to draw inspiration for another fancy idea of embroidery on painted canvas:

Just as the canvas is traditional background material, embroidery is an ancient form of needlework. “It’s used worldwide to embellish textiles for decorative and communicative purposes,”—explains Love to Know. 

Embroidery on canvas
Image source: Skillshare

Embroidery adds:

    1. color, 
    2. texture, 
    3. aesthetical richness, and 
    4. dimension

to your projects;

If you have it all and want to enrich your project with professionalism, reach out to Super Label Store

If you decide to use your embroidery designs on canvas on clothing or other accessories (read our list of the types of clothes to tackle this topic fully), one sure way to pump up their professionalism is by using:

Suppose you are looking for a super easy, super quality, super 100% custom, and available in super low quantities way to distinguish your projects. In that case, Super Label Store is happy to make it all.

How to do embroidery on canvas?

Now that you know you can make embroidery art on canvas, such as line art embroidery on canvas (Pinterest), bead embroidery on canvas (Pinterest), and even embroidery on painting canvas, let’s see how to embroidery on canvas.

How to do hand embroidery on canvas?

Let’s begin our adventure with “Amateur’s Guide To Easy Canvas Embroidery // Tutorial” by Thandi Colley:

Sewing Machine Buffs explains DIY embroidery on canvas comprehensively in their step-by-step guide. We use their findings to share them with you below:

Step Description
Prepare your supplies

You will need:

Transfer your design to the canvas Take your flower embroidery pattern or other design and trace the drawing using tracing paper. Then, turn over on the canvas. Brush your finger over the design to leave a pencil mark on the fabric. Redraw the outline again if the pencil mark looks pale.
Get ready to start  Thread your needle and prepare yourself to start, but don’t secure the knot yet. Create a double thread by pulling the needle up to the mid-length.

WikiHow advises: 

    1. If you’re working with a large canvas project, secure the material into a bench hook,
    2. If you’re working with a small canvas project, pin or clip the edges together ahead of time (we describe how to mount embroidery on canvas in the next paragraph);

Ready to start your embroidery on a canvas project? Let’s see the next steps (by Sewing Machine Buffs):

Step Description
Give the first stitch Make your first stitch until the end—then, tie a knot. Keep on stitching, following the lines of your design.

Use pins 

(Check out our quick take on sewing pins here)

Use a pin to make holes for every stitch you will make. This step will ensure your work is a lot easier and quicker. 
Turn the fabric When you are done with sewing all the lines, turn the fabric over. If there are slack threads at the back, pull them carefully to ensure the stitches are constricted enough not to break or create a limp look.

The last thing you should do to call your embroidery stitching a day is to tie the last knot and remove excess threads.

Here you go!

Embroidery art on canvas
Image source: Martha Stewart

Stitches to use for canvas embroidery are:

    1. satin stitches,
    2. brick stitches,
    3. florentine stitches,
    4. cross stitches,
    5. three-dimensional stitches;

On your way to becoming a professional embroiderer, read the list of “20 Common Embroidery Mistakes” on The Spruce Crafts

If you are not so much into hand embroidery and prefer machine embroidery on canvas, watch “Machine Embroidery Canvas Art” on the EdytheAnne channel. This video is a pleasant way to make your first steps in this area.

We write about embroidery machine and Brother embroidery machine on our Super Label Store blog

Pam from The Birch Cottage explains “How to Machine Embroider on Stretched Canvas” on her blog. She claims that if you want to do embroidery on stretched canvas, the canvas’ smooth, tight surface is a perfect material to machine embroider on. 

One of her tips is to use a 75/11 sharp needle or embroidery machine needle. Read more about her valuable tactics on The Birch Cottage. 

Machine embroidery on canvas
Image source: Hatch Embroidery 

How to mount embroidery on canvas frame?

Whether you do machine embroidery on canvas frame or hand DIY embroidery on canvas, there will come a time when you may need to mount your embroidery on canvas frame or canvas board. 

The Spruce Crafts gives you a helping hand, sharing tips on how to show off your embroidery as beautiful art. 

Mind that this method requires some extra fabric around the embroidery to wrap and stretch the fabric. So think about preparing it before you embroider your project. 

To mount your embroidery on canvas frame, you will need:

    1. Tools:
      • scissors,
      • needle,
      • pen or pencil,
      • hammer (if you want to add a sawtooth picture hanger),
      • wooden skewer (optionally);
    1. Materials:
      • your finished embroidery project,
      • blank stretched canvas,
      • a strong thread,
      • wool-blend felt,
      • fabric glue,
      • sawtooth picture hanger (optionally);

The process is also described in Pumora’s article “How to mount embroidery on art canvas.”

Mount embroidery on art canvas guide
Image source: Pumora

    1. First, cut the embroidered fabric to fit

Take carefully pressed embroidered fabric and place the stretched canvas on its backside. Ensure you evenly trim the fabric on all four sides so that the excess fabric can wrap around the back.

Use a 2-inch border of fabric for standard canvases. Ensure you leave a relatively larger border for thicker canvases.

Read “How to Mount Hand Embroidery on Canvas Board” by Stitch Doodles.

Mount embroidery on art canvas edge
Image source: Pumora

    1. Start lacing the back of the canvas

In step two, cut two to three yards of strong thread—mind that it’s much longer than you would generally work with. Thread the needle and double the thread. Tie a large knot at the end.

Starting in the middle of the sides of your canvas, bring the thread through the fabric, securing the starting point with an extra stitch. 

Begin lacing the back by stitching through the wrapped fabric on the two opposite sides (working from the middle out toward the edge)—suggests The Spruce Crafts. Pull the fabric taut with each stitch. Mind that each stitch should go through the fabric 1/2 inch from the edge (1/4 inch at least).  

When you reach the end of your thread, hold the lacing tight. Take a small extra stitch—it will help hold the lacing. Next, tie a large knot close to the fabric and trim the end. Now, start a new thread like before.

    1. Finish lacing the back of the canvas

When you reach the ends of the long sides of the canvas you work on, stitch across from top to bottom to pull the two short sides taut. Keep the lacing within the framed open area on the back of the canvas. Can you see the loose fabric at the corners? If you do, you’re doing it right!

Stretched canvas embroidery
Image source: The Spruce Crafts

    1. Tuck one side of a corner

In this step, you may need to use one of the optional embroidery supplies we mention on the list (the one that isn’t likely to appear in an embroidery kit).

Tuck the corner fabric on the side under the folded flap at the top. Push the fabric as close to the top edge as possible with a wooden skewer or similar tool.

Fold the top flap of fabric under at a 30-degree angle. Pull the corner fabric tight so there are as few folds on the corner of the canvas as possible. Fold this piece of fabric down again so it lays flat and the fold is not right on the edge of the canvas.

Stretched art canvas embroidery
Image source: The Spruce Crafts

    1. Stitch the folded corner

Since you have the corner pulled tight and the fabric folded neatly, you can go on and stitch the fold down onto the previously tucked corner. 

You don’t need many stitches to be able to hold this folded structure but ensure to stitch along almost the entire fold. Next, thread the needle with a doubled thread and knot the end. Finally, secure the end with a large knot close to the fabric.

When you are done with the first one, repeat the folding and stitching process at each of the four corners. If there is any excess fabric, trim it off to remove bulk.

    1. Trace the canvas on felt

In these finishing steps, you have two options. You can:

      • leave the back of the canvas open and attach a sawtooth picture hanger to the wooden frame, or 
      • add a covering to conceal the lacing; 

If you choose to make the covering, place the canvas on a piece of wool-blend felt. Position the canvas about 1/4 inch over the corner of the felt and trace around the remaining two sides. Next, cut the rectangle of felt. Then, use fabric glue to attach the felt to the back of the canvas.

For a straightforward hanger, cut a thin rectangle of felt and glue the ends at the top of the backed canvas as a hanger. You can also use a traditional picture hanger: hammer or screw through the material and into the wooden frame.

Canvas embroidery back
Image source: The Spruce Crafts

The last step is all about the glory after your hard work! 

Display your finished embroidery on canvas—put it on a shelf, hang it or lean it against a wall. 

Your finished work will look professional and be a pleasant change from framing in a typical embroidery hoop or a standard frame.

Easy embroidery on canvas
Image source: Pinterest

Embroidery on canvas ideas

The good news is, you can embroider pretty much any designs you want on canvas—ensures Emblibrary in the series “Fabrics 101: Embroidering on Canvas.”

Canvas textile is sturdy enough to carry even heavy designs well. Its flat surface makes even light designs like redwork appear bright and beautiful.

Check out our embroidery ideas, such as:

Click on this Pinterest link to let yourself be inspired before you start embroidering!

To gain a broader perspective, also read “Embroidery” of Fashion History by Lindsay Shen and Marilee DesLauriers with paragraphs, such as:

    1. Historical Overview,
    2. Embroidery and Couture, and
    3. World Traditions,

Above shot of decorated fabrics on table
Image source: The Spruce Crafts