author of this informative article on Waste Canvas has been a participant
on the usenet group rec.crafts.textiles.needlework (RCTN). A professional
seamstress, Mary has been asked so many times to print out the instructions
that I offered to put it on line so that others could avail themselves
and she didn't have to keep reposting the information.
Waste Canvas (WC) info
types of fabric can be used as WC. There is the fabric specifically
made for this purpose. This specialty waste canvas fabric can be purchased
in precut lengths but is not usually of very good quality and it is
difficult to remove when your project is finished. Most fabric stores
now sell WC yardage and that is often the best quality. You can also
use any even weave fabric, such as linen or lugana. Many people prefer
this to the fabric sold as WC and feel that it is easier to remove
after stitching is complete.
Finding Center Front Lines
Vertical Center Front, Garment
On garments that have NO side seams, put one
sleeve inside the other, wrong sides together, matching underarm seams, armhole
seams and shoulder seams. Fold garment out along center front and mark with
straight pins or disappearing ink from the neck opening to the bottom
of the garment.
Horizontal Center Front,
line should be at a 90-degree angle to the center front line. It
will be the center front line for the design, NOT the entire garment.
Determine the desired location of the TOP of the design (usually
approximately 2- to 4-inches below the neck band) and mark with a
straight pin. Find the horizontal center point of the design and
measure from the top of the design to this center point. Then, on
the garment, measure this same distance down from the pin and mark
the desired top of the design by placing another straight pin. Fold
at this point, matching the vertical center front lines. Mark your
horizontal center front line with straight pins or disappearing ink
Preparing Waste Canvas
on fabrics that are not washable, you might want to thoroughly rinse
the WC to remove all of the starch and/or sizing and let it air dry
before basting it to the garment.
of a backing fabric is a personal choice. I always use
a backing on knit garments like T-shirts or sweatshirts to stabilize
the knits. If you are stitching on something made of a closely woven
fabric like muslin, denim or canvas, then a backing is not needed.
If you use a backing, be sure you use a woven fabric when stitching
on a knit garment.
Cut WC and
backing approximately 4-inches wider and longer than the finished design.
WC in half lengthwise and again in half crosswise, marking the fold
lines at the edges and at the center point. Pin the WC to the garment
front, matching center point and the edge at the two vertical and two
horizontal fold lines.
If you are
using a backing, on the wrong side of the garment, lay your preferred
backing so that it covers the pins that were placed on the front. Now
pin the backing it to the garment at the four corners through all fabric
and WC layers. Now, go back to the front of the garment and pin all
three layers together so that they make a smooth sandwich. You don't
want any bumps or looseness between the WC and the garment. The backing
is not as critical, but it is wise to get everything as smooth as possible.
Basting WC and Backing to Garment
With a good
quality normal sewing thread and a sharp needle, baste the three layers
together along the vertical and horizontal center lines. Then baste
horizontal lines about every two inches on either side of the center
basted horizontal line. Repeat vertically. The last thing is to baste
around the entire piece. This keeps the edges of the WC from raveling.
Some people also like to baste diagonal lines. This is up to you.
Remove all straight pins after basting
is complete or as they get in the way of your basting.
The white area is the waste canvas
on a pink ground fabric. The red lines are the basting lines, the
thread cut and dangling at the outer edges. The blue lines show where
you would baste diagonally if you desire this extra step.
Attaching to the Hoop
It is very difficult
to do quality cross stitch on any garment without the use of a hoop.
Try to use a hoop that is larger than your design so that you do not
have to remove it during stitching.
Center the design area
in the hoop so that the face of your garment is lower than the top
of the hoop. In other words, the top of the hoop will be on the wrong
This is backward from the way most of us have used a hoop. However,
by doing it this way, it keeps the face of your work much cleaner.
Once the hoop is attached,
roll the garment up and around the edges of the hoop so that it looks
like a big round fabric "sausage" encircling the hoop. Now,
baste around the hoop, going through the garment on the inside of the
hoop, coming around the outside of the fabric "sausage" and
back into the garment on the inside of the hoop. Do this all the way
around the hoop so that you have basted all the garment fabric to the
edge of the hoop. This way, you will be keeping the majority of your
garment clean and it is much easier to work your design without the
bulk of the garment hanging down and getting in your way.
Stitching the Design
a cross stitch design with WC is the same as regular stitching. Some
people prefer to use a sharp needle to pierce the fabric and backing,
others prefer a more blunt needle (tapestry needle) used in such a
way as to slide between the threads of the fabric. Use what works best
for you. Some people also knot the floss on the back side, while others
just anchor the end by going back and forth through several previous
stitches. Once again, this is personal preference.
best to work from the center out, or from one edge to the other. This
helps to prevent any puckering of the WC during stitching. I leave
my basting stitches in until I have completed the area around the basted
line. Remove all basting once the design is completed. If you use a
regular WC and find that your stitches are uneven, try stitching from
the small hole to the small hole, stitching OVER the larger hole. The
size needle and number of strands of floss used will depend upon your
WC size. The higher count the WC used means a smaller size needle and
fewer number of floss strand used. Generally, I use two strands of
floss and a size 26 needle on 14-count projects.
Removing Waste Canvas
This is where using the
best WC you can afford pays off. The cheap brands of WC are difficult
to remove, so get the very best you can afford.
There are two schools of thought on how to remove the
WC. Some prefer to dampen the stitched area and remove the WC threads.
Others feel that, after stitching is completed and the garment is removed
from the hoop, it should be thoroughly washed and dried. This removes
the starch in the WC and makes it much easier to remove.
Whichever method you
choose, the next step is to cut the backing fabric close to the edge
of the stitched design but DO NOT cut the WC. You will need the excess
to grab onto when pulling it out. Some people use tweezers or hemostats
to hold onto the WC threads. Again, this is a personal choice. I simply
pull them out going around and around the design area. Don't be tempted
to pull more than one thread at a time. It only makes a big tight nest
If you have a densely
stitched area, it will be difficult to get the WC thread out. I use
the blunt end of a tapestry needle to grab onto the WC in the middle
of the stitched area and pull it above the stitched area a little,
then you can grab it with tweezers and pull it loose. Work very slowly
or the WC threads will break.
Once the WC threads are
removed and the garment washed and dried, you may want to put an iron-on
interfacing on the back side of the stitched area. I always do this
if the design has a lot of metallic threads, as they tend to be itchy
against the skin. As with most "rules", it is one of personal
preference. If it makes you feel better to use the interfacing, by
all means do so.
Questions or comments: e-mail