A blog about my interests, which include crazy quilting and various and assorted other artsy pursuits and sometimes known to contain mumblings of a random nature.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Waste Canvas (a tutorial, of sorts)

Today I thought I'd share a little bit about the use of waste canvas with you.  I'm by no means an expert but there are some tips I've learned along the way that might prove helpful.

First of all, the waste canvas I purchase is made by Charles Craft ( and I always buy 14 count.  I find anything with a larger grid than that is simply too big for most crazy quilting applications.  The packages come with a piece of canvas 12"x18" which is sufficient for a lot of crazy quilt seams.

I think the first use of waste canvas was to apply designs onto the front of t-shirts (probably back in the early 70's or so) and at that time it was recommended that, once you had your design stitched, the waste canvas be moistened to make it easier to remove.  I find just the opposite to be true for crazy quilting and that moisture is definitely NOT your friend.  It turns the canvas threads into a gummy mess and makes them nearly impossible to remove.

To begin, choose the design you would like to create and count the number of stitches in both directions.  The most important count is the stitches from top to bottom.  Cut a piece of waste canvas, plus a margin of at least five squares on both top and bottom, a little more than the length of your seam.  At this point I fold the canvas in half in both directions and mark the centre with a permanent fine point marker.  Center your canvas on your seam using the mark as a guide.  Baste around the outside edges of your canvas to hold in place (you can pin it, but then you're constantly having to untangle your threads as you work - too much angst for me!!).

Find the centre point of your design and begin stitching it at the centre mark you've made on the canvas and work your way to the end of your seam.  Return to the centre and work out in the other direction.  Try not to catch the canvas into your needle as you stitch.

Remove your basting threads and then, using a pair of tweezers, start pulling each strand of canvas out one at a time. I always pull the short strands out.  Taking your time with this step is important.  Pull each thread carefully, keeping them straight as you pull.  Pulling sideways (or upwards) will result in distorted stitches.  If you find a strand difficult to pull out, try pulling it from the opposite side.    After you remove all the short strands just grasp the edge of the remaining long strands and pull gently.  Voila - they will slide right out and you're left with a beautifully stitched seam. 

I hope you find these tips helpful and will give waste canvas a try!

Today the quote is from Georg Christoph Lichtenberg.... "Everyone is a genius at least once a year.  The real geniuses simply have their bright ideas closer together"


  1. Thank you. I've been reading all your refs to waste canvas and wondering wtf this was about...I've heard of it, but had the vaguest notion of how to use it. I know more now, thank you.

  2. Good description of waste canvas. I used it many, many years ago to embroider a cute sheep on the front of an apron. I still have it and the apron looks worse for wear but the sheep is still great!

  3. Waste canvas is SO helpful with some seams. Great advice and info!

  4. Thanks for a refresher!! Yes...I used waste canvas all the time in the 70s/80s. It was the perfect way to cover a spot that could not be removed on my daughter's clothes. Madam Samm has renewed the cross stitch craze and I'm sure I'll be joining along the way!
    xx, Carol

    PS: Besides, I LOVE that little cabin in your banner!!

  5. Thank you :) I have some and must give it a try one of these days.

  6. I do remember stitching on sweatshirts with waste canvas. Good tips you passed on. Thanks!

  7. Thanks MA! I've pinned this to refer to later. I'm sure I'll learn a lot from this.

  8. as you know, I worship waste canvas!


Thank you so much for leaving comments! I appreciate you taking the time out of your busy life to talk to me. It's wonderful to know that someone is actually reading my mumblings and even more fun if I can connect with you and visit your blog.