Let me start off first by saying, I’m introducing this project as a Cricut-related project, however, it can be done without a Cricut … so please read on. I first saw this idea on a Facebook group a couple of years ago and loved the idea because it was fairly simple and it doesn’t cost much to make! These two things, spending less and finding a project that is doable by your average crafter, are important to me. Another thing that makes this project so desirable … the possibilities are endless! Meaning, you can basically make whatever you can imagine and create on your Cricut. You can make these for any season, event, or holiday … or just an everyday decoration for your home. They also make wonderful gifts!
I am going to share with you what supplies you need to make a Reverse Canvas, basics on how to make it (but there are many YouTube videos out there that can help you through the process step-by-step) and give you a few helpful tips. I will also share all the canvases I have made and tell you about a couple mishaps and how I corrected them.
The Canvas is obviously the most important part of this project. You can purchase canvases at many stores including Hobby Lobby, JoAnn, Michaels, Walmart, Amazon, and the list goes on. My usual go-to for canvases is the Artist Loft brand at Michaels. I will tell you that some of the canvases have better-looking wood framing underneath than others, so it’s one of those things you have to experiment with to find the canvas you like best. As far as size goes, canvases come in many different sizes, so you pick what works best for your project.
Wood Stain or Paint (this is totally up to you how you would like to finish your wood frame and how you want it to look) I generally use a Minwax Wood Finish Stain
Foam brushes, rags, paint brushes (choose your weapon to apply your stain or paint)
Gloves (protect those hands when you are staining your wood)
Exacto knife or razor blade (you will need something sharp to cut your canvas carefully)
Cricut or Silhouette or other Cutting Machine (if you plan to cut out your own iron-on design) *optional: purchase an iron-on design
Iron-on Vinyl or Heat Transfer Vinyl (if cutting your own design, see examples of products I used for one of my designs in the photo above)
Iron or Heat Press
Sawtooth Hook (if you plan to hang your finished project)
The photo above is my very first Reverse Canvas. I was actually happy with the finished project and it wasn’t hard to make it all. I knew there would be more Reverse Canvases in my future! I wanted to make this for our main bathroom (the bathroom my husband and I use). I thought it would be funny to hang it up in there, and I was right, my husband liked it! Anyway, for the lettering, I used a purchased font (Samantha Italic) and created it on my Cricut Explore Air. I used a blue Cricut Iron-On Vinyl on the canvas.
The How to Basics:
- The first thing you will need to do is cut the canvas off of the wood framing underneath, carefully. The easiest way to do this is to turn the canvas over so the front of it is laying flat on the table. Then, with your Exacto knife or other sharp instrument cut a straight line about a quarter of an inch away from the edges, just along the staples. You do not want to cut your canvas too small because later you have to staple it back onto the back. See the photo below for reference.
- Now you can trim away all the excess canvas left on your frame. You can use your Exacto knife or scissors or you can use a heavy duty staple remover and pull out all the staples. I generally just cut away the excess canvas and rip it off and leave the staples since they will be on the back side.
- Time to stain or paint your wood. Most people use stain for their Reverse Canvases but sometimes you want a different color (say for example you are making something for Christmas and you want your frame to be red or green) so you can use paint if you choose. Either way, follow the directions on the stain or paint container. You will most likely want to apply two coats of stain or paint. Let dry completely.
- The design: If you have a cutting machine, you can either create your own design image (for Cricut, you will use Cricut Design Space) or you can purchase a design from Etsy or another graphic design shop and then upload it to the design space. If you do not have a cutting machine, you can purchase an iron-on from a craft store. *An important note about SIZING. Be careful when creating your design. The size of your canvas frame (wood part) is larger than the area of the canvas that will show through on the inside of your frame. Make sure to measure your usable space on the canvas before sizing your design. I made this mistake one time (I will share about that below). In the photo above, you can see a recent design I created in Cricut Design Space on my computer. I found the saying while browsing online. I used a different font for each part (each font I found on a free font site, www.dafont.com). My plan was to use a slightly different color blue iron-on vinyl for each section, so I made my online layout look like I wanted to look when completed.
- Cut out your design following the directions of your cutting machine and the directions of the iron-on or heat transfer vinyl’s packaging.
- Heat up your iron to the cotton setting and carefully iron on your design to the canvas. You can use either side of the canvas, the brighter white side or the side that looks slightly beige. I have used both and they both work fine. Be sure to follow the directions for the vinyl when ironing (some HTV or iron-on products need to be heated a little more than others, some need to cool before you can peel away the protective layer). In the photo below, you can see my most recent canvas after ironing on the design, laying underneath the wood frame. In this case, the canvas material was from another canvas, so it was a little larger than needed, but no worries, I just trimmed it before attaching it back to the frame.
- The final step is to reattach your canvas material back to the stained wooden frame. Turn your frame face down on a sturdy surface. Carefully line up your design, centered, how you want it to look. While holding it in place, you will staple with a staple gun around the back edges. I usually will staple the top center then the bottom center then do the four corners, making sure its straight and pulled tautly. Then carefully trim away excess canvas using an exacto knife or scissors.
- If you want to hang your finished product, the easiest way to do so is attach a sawtooth hanger (purchase at hardware or craft store) to the back in the top center of the frame.
Here are two more samples of Reverse Canvases I have made. I found the designs on www.lovesvg.com which provides designs for free but accepts donations (for personal use only). I use Cricut, Siser, and other types of HTV and iron-on in my designs. I love to use Glitter HTV!
What if I mess up? you ask … well, let me tell you about a couple of my experiences. With my most recent canvas (the Christmas one in the header). I ironed on “Happy Christmas”, the glittery vinyl, no problem. Then came the Cricut Foil Iron-On for the “by the sea” section … well, let’s just say, while pulling up the protective sheet, some of the iron on stuck to the sheet and tore while coming up off the canvas. It was irreparable. I was so mad! However, in most crafting scenarios, there is a fix! I happened to have another canvas that I had already cut off the frame (hadn’t stained the frame) so I just used that canvas and started over with the ironing-on process. The only downfall was I had to re-cut another “Happy Christmas” and “by the sea”.
Error #2: what do you notice about the above photo? If you guessed the frame looks different, you are correct! I made a mistake that I mentioned above in the directions. Sizing! When I created the design for this gift, I was going by the measurement of the canvas, not the measurement of the inside space of the canvas framing. After I spent all the time creating the design, cutting out all the parts with my Cricut then ironing them onto the canvas material… I laid the stained canvas frame over my design, and it didn’t fit! The framing went over my wording. I was so upset because this was a Christmas gift. I had to figure out a way to save this project! Thankfully the canvas design was a common frame measurement, so I went online and I found a frame that would work and purchased it. It kind of defeated the whole purpose of Reverse Canvases (taking the inner wood frame and utilizing it, saving money) but in this case, I had to save the canvas I created! The life of a crafter, always fun!
If you decide to take the plunge and make a Reverse Canvas, please share a photo of your project with me on my Pinterest page (just comment under this project). If you enjoyed reading this blog, give me a like or share your thoughts, and please follow my Blog if you want to see more projects like this one! Thanks for stopping by! ~Kristina~