Waste Canvas

I have a fear of waste canvas. Perhaps it is the name-waste-or because you have to pull threads or visions of 8-count pink bears on an old sweatshirt. Whatever the reason, I cannot remember using this product at any point in my life. However, I have seen some lovely stitching on tea towels that had to have been done using waste canvas. I can see where this might be useful in my crazy quilt blocks. In fact, I am planning a block filled with memories of the 2103 retreat. So, today, let’s find out how to use waste canvas.

What is waste canvas? This product creates a stitching grid on non-evenweave fabric like towels or clothing. It is designed to be removed once the stitching is done. Water soluble glue keeps the threads together. Once your stitching is done, you remove the threads. The canvas comes in different fabric counts. Nordic Needle carries waste canvas with no blue line in 8.5 count (500-034) 14-count (500-056) and 18 count (500-070).

How to use it

First decide on your design and cut the waste canvas a little larger than the design. For my crazy quilt block I chose a tea cup design from the 80+ Cross Stitch Kind Thoughts book (105-497-3995). From that design, I determined the stitch count and made sure the cup would fit. The waste canvas I chose is 14-count white waste canvas without lines (500-056). You want to cut the waste canvas a little larger than your design. Since I wasn’t exactly sure where I would start stitching, my piece was a little larger than necessary.

For something that you plan to wash like clothing or towels, you should pre-wash your fabric. Since this won’t be washed, I skipped this step. Next you baste the waste canvas onto your fabric making sure that the basting stitches don’t go through the area you plan to stitch. Now you stitch the design just as you would any other cross stitch. Here is my piece in the beginning stages of stitching.

Here are some tips for stitching on waste canvas.

  • Use a crewel needle instead of a tapestry needle.
  • Don’t stitch through the canvas or you will have trouble pulling out the threads. (I learned this the hard way!!!)
  • Take your time and place your stitches in the center of the holes in the grid making sure that your stitches touch each other. I found it was easy to have a little gap between the stitches because I am used to stitching into the hole created by the fabric weave. There isn’t a “hole” in regular fabric.
  • Depending on your fabric, you may want to put a stabilizer on the back of the fabric.
  • To hoop or not to hoop? You can use a hoop or frame just like you were doing a regular cross stitch.

Because I was running close to the newsletter deadline, I rushed through the project. The original tea cup was in pinks and yellows so I changed the threads to match the purple color theme. The multicolored floss is from the DMC tie-dyed pack (DMC001). Several solid colors of DMC floss were used to do the highlights and backstitch. I don’t like how it turned out, but it is totally my fault. However, since this will be a highly embellished piece, it will work out fine!

When your design is finished, it is time to remove the waste canvas. The instructions say to moisten the canvas and remove each strand individually with tweezers. In talking with others who use the waste canvas, a majority of them do NOT moisten the canvas. Some were using specialty threads and were afraid the threads would be damaged. Others said it was just as easy to pull them out dry. Remove the basting threads. Trim the waste canvas leaving enough canvas length to be able to grasp it with tweezers. I could have trimmed mine a little closer. For the non-stitched areas, the canvas is easy to pull out the threads. When you get to the canvas under the design you want to take your time. I placed my thumb on the cross stitches when I pulled out the threads. There were apparently several stitches where I stitched through the waste canvas. (Note to self, review the tips, especially the second one, before stitching your next project on waste canvas!) One spot I must have stitched through the canvas thread every time and I couldn’t pull it out. So I used my Star De-Tailor (300-133-0001) to bring the canvas thread out next to that stitch and clipped it as close as I could. It was easier for me to pull the threads that run vertically than horizontally. I found when I pulled those out first the horizontal threads were much easier to remove.

Tendrils of steam completed the design. Rather than embroider them, I decided to create the steam with Color Infusions Memory Thread #6240. I had wanted to do something with that thread since reading DMC’s new book Emma Broidery’s Memory Thread How-To Guide (2344). Here is the finished design.

DMC also has a Water Soluble Canvas (8482).

From their website: “DMC Water Soluble Canvas is an innovative clear canvas that allows you to stitch a design on to almost any fabric. Soluble Canvas is perfect for customizing home décor items such as cushions and pillows, as well as almost any clothing garment. The 14-count Soluble Canvas is used in exactly the same way as Aida when stitching. Choose a design, tack the canvas to the item or material and cross stitch as usual. Place the finished design in a bowl of hot water and the canvas disappears leaving you with a customized unique piece of clothing or home décor item!”

The pieces are precut at 8″ x 8.5″ and do not have any blue lines. This water soluble canvas resembles perforated paper with the little holes rather than woven threads. DMC recommends using a size 26 needle. A larger needle will not pass through the holes cleanly. Also, if the design has quarter stitches, it may be easier to add them after you dissolve the canvas. Your threads and fabric must be washable because you dissolve the canvas in hot, soapy water.


We hope this guide makes your stitching easier and more enjoyable!

For those interested in using this article or others published by Nordic Needle, Inc., please use this copy when referencing the information:

“The following article was written by Debi Feyh of Nordic Needle and published in their weekly e-mail newsletter. Permission was granted by Nordic Needle to share this article in (name of your publication). For information on subscribing to their weekly e-mail newsletter, visit www.nordicneedle.com. A free mail-order catalog is available to you upon request if you live in the USA or Canada.”

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