12.4.12 What a Waste
I've had a packet of waste canvas in my stash for years, but I've always been intimidated by it. I don't know if it was the limited range of stitch sizes that troubled me, or the fact that it would have to be basted on... (horror! extra work!) In any case, I am sorry I wasted so much time avoiding what is now my very favorite thing.
I want to show you how great this stuff is – and how easy! Imagine being able to cross stitch onto anything fabric... I'm thinking about monogramming a coin purse, putting a sweet old fashioned design on a cotton blouse, stitching simple hearts onto felt to use for gift tags... The best part is, you can choose the background color, texture and shape of your finished piece. And since you can stitch onto just about anything you can get a needle through, the possibilities will keep you up at night. Or maybe that's just me.
Waste canvas is a little bit different from regular aida fabric in that it is designed to allow your stitches to end up in another fabric. It's torn away when you're done stitching, so the background fabric remains with your stitches on it, and all the really not so attractive canvas fibers are gone. Another minor (and helpful) difference is that there are large and small openings in waste canvas. You stitch through the small openings, going right over the large ones and leaving them empty. It takes a minute to get oriented, but really does help keep track of where your stitches go.
Waste canvas does seem to be available in fewer stitch-per-inch options. I have some in the 8.5 and 14 count sizes, and have been finding plenty of great ideas for both of them. The 8.5 has been super fun for making my recycled wool pendants and rings (see below), and I'm using the 14 for initials and words, which require a bit more detail.
The only real hurdle with waste canvas is, you have to baste it to your fabric before you can start stitching. You want to make a pretty close guess of how much canvas you'll need, and cut that out of your large sheet. Hold it right where you want the stitching to be on your background fabric or object, and pin it in place if you need to make sure it will be straight or placed in a particular way. Get some bright thread in your needle and zip some nice big running stitches all around the perimeter – not all the way to the edge, because it will unravel, but close.
Once you have your canvas basted to your background fabric, you'll just follow your cross stitch pattern as usual. One other nice advantage to waste canvas is, because you most likely have a solid base for your stitches, you can use a knot for the ends of your floss. I love that, because knots make me feel more secure. They're good.
The most fun part (for me, anyway) about this kind of cross stitch is at the end, when you get to take your waste canvas out. I'm one of those people who likes to get all the icky white stuff off the tangerine sections, so maybe this is more of that kind of strangeness. Anyway, if I'm using the 14ct canvas, which is a bit smaller and tighter, I use a tweezers to gently ease the fibers out. Also, if I've stitched multiple letters, I trim carefully around and between them so I'm pulling out shorter lengths of fiber. There's a very small learning curve, based entirely on just doing it and seeing what works best for you. But I just love taking out the canvas fibers and seeing my stitches against the background fabric. It's very satisfying to see your work emerge and realize it looks exactly as you hoped!
I've been playing with waste canvas primarily on felt, because it's winter and felt is cozy and warm, and I love its earthiness. You can use any fairly sturdy fabric – and in fact, if you want to stitch on something that's a bit stretchy, like a pair of jeans, a thick t-shirt or a hoodie, this should work just fine.
I'm working on some kit ideas, which I hope to have coming out early next year. But in the meantime, you can pick up waste canvas just about anywhere regular needlecraft supplies are sold.
Let me know if you decide to give it a try – I'm happy to answer questions, and I'd love to see what you make!
1. Determine how large your final design will be and trim out a section of waste canvas about half an inch larger on all sides.