How to use plastic canvas

New to cross stitching and wondering what else you can stitch on to as well as aida? Welcome to the wonderful world of plastic canvas! This versatile material allows you to add stitches to all sorts of items, from plant pokes to cake decorations and 3D designs. Here's how it works.

How to use plastic canvas

Plastic canvas comes in a range of different counts and you can stitch on it using any thread that you like. When choosing a motif, go for one with a simple outline, to make cutting it out easier.

Before you begin, check that your pattern is suitable for stitching on to plastic canvas. Choose a design that contains whole cross stitch and backstitch only, as you can’t work fractionals or French knots on plastic canvas.

How to stitch with plastic canvas

For most designs you’ll need 14-count plastic canvas and a size 24 tapestry needle, as normal.


Step 1

If you don’t want to use the whole sheet of canvas, cut out just enough for your design, leaving a minimum 5cm (2in) all the way around to give you something to hold on to – you can’t put plastic canvas in a hoop or frame. When using two strands of stranded cotton on 14-count canvas, start off with the loop method and work over one bar of the canvas. Finish as usual by working your needle through a few stitches on the reverse side.

How to use plastic canvas for beginners

Step 2

It’s difficult to mark plastic canvas with a cutting guide, so just cut freehand. Always leave one whole square of canvas around the edges, making sure not to snip into any holes with thread in them, so your stitches don’t fall out. Don’t use fabric scissors (keep those sharp!), and just snip slowly and carefully. For a neat finish, trim off any bumps along the edge of the plastic.

Step 3

For a neat edge, you could overstitch the edges of the plastic canvas using coordinating threads, if the design suits it. You can also join several pieces of plastic canvas together to make 3D projects.