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Creating Homemade Gifts for All Occasions by Stitching with Yarn and Plastic Canvas

Seafarer Mama/Karen is an artist and loves to design, paint, glue, stitch, sculpt, and do what it takes to make her family's home beautiful.

A Brief Introduction and A List of Supplies ~

History of Stitchery - A Prologue

Fashioning beautiful handmade creations to display and give away has been a relaxing pastime for centuries. A variety of mediums have been used for such endeavors, such as weaving clothes and wall tapestries, knitting, sewing fabric to create clothes, quilting, and cross-stitching on sheets of cotton canvas. Young girls learned how to read through cross-stitching the alphabet and some simple phrases onto a sheet of cotton or canvas. They also learned to clothe their families from their mothers and teachers through weaving or hand sewing fabric together to make the clothes, cross stitching or embroidering elegant patterns on those clothes, and quilting.

Stitchery with Plastic Canvas

This hub is about a more recent craft that involves stitching with "plastic canvas." It is a piece of plastic that is designed with a grid of holes for weaving yarn in and out. Patterns that are either simple or a more detailed picture can be the goal. Some take more planning than others. It is best, as with any craft, to start simple and then progress toward more detail over time.

Supplies

The supplies you need for plastic canvas are few, but repeated trips to the craft store may be involved if your craft becomes a favorite pastime. Your local JoAnn or Michael's is a good place to start for this. Yarn stores are also good places to browse.

Modern Plastic Canvas hearts ~

Hearts stitched for my daughter's Kindergarten  teachers as an end-of-year 'thank you' gift

Hearts stitched for my daughter's Kindergarten teachers as an end-of-year 'thank you' gift

Learn to make lovely gifts with yarn and plastic canvas

Supplies for Plastic Canvas Stitchery ~

Chart reflects the supplies needed, descriptions, and purpose.

Plastic CanvasTapestry NeedlesMiscellaneous Supplies

Various shapes, e.g. circles, squares, stars, hearts

Bigger than sewing needles

Small pair of sharp scissorst that will fit in your stitchery bag

Various sizes: e.g. small ones for ornaments. or big circles for coasters

Historically used to stitch designs in rugs

Yarn of various colors

Large sheets for bigger projects: e.,g. tissue boxes

Big eye to fit yarn

Felt of various colors for backing finished pieces

Smaller square sheets for cutting into bookmarks

Sturdy and easier to find

Small glue gun for gluing on the felt backing

Threading the Tapestry Needle

The first step to this craft is threading the tapestry needle with the yarn. A closeup of a threaded needle is featured in one of the photos to the right. Tapestry needles are used for stitching on plastic canvas because they are thicker than the average sewing needle, have a rounded tip instead of a sharp point, and the eye is big enough to fit the the yarn through.

Stitches

The stitches in plastic canvas are simple. I often begin on the edge and "trim" the piece by stitching around the perimeter before adding color to the rest of it. These stitches usually appear diagonal as I travel around the shape of the plastic canvas piece.

For the next layer in, I usually continue the diagonal stitch. Others may like to make vertical (up and down) or horizontal (back and forth) stitches. Interesting patterns can be developed by alternating the style or appearance of your stitches. Fabric stores often sell guides that illustrate a variety of stitches and how to make them.

Coasters, Ornaments, and Rugs

With a few basic stitches and some time to practice, it is easy to become hooked on creating beautiful crafts with yarn and plastic canvas. Bigger pieces can be used to make coasters, smaller ones for ornaments. I have used mostly circles and squares, which also make good rugs for doll houses. I have occasionally also made multicolored hearts as Valentines and magical stars for various celebrations. One big, round coaster I made for my husband with the logo he designed for his photography business. I often glue a felt backing to my pieces when I have finished stitching them, which is usually the basic white "school glue," like Elmer's TM , that dries clear.

"Booty"

Some of the photos to the right are the "booty" I have created with small ornament-sized discs of plastic canvas, named after the concept of 'pirate booty' since I love sailing and the sea. To practice my craft, I created groups of themed discs to give to my daughter and other neighborhood children for various occasions. One set portrayed jungle animals portrayed by a group of children in a play. The next set had an autumn/Halloween theme, which I sent to school with my daughter last Halloween. The third set was a group of snowflake ornaments that my daughter gave to her fellow ballet dancers in December. This spring, I made discs as gifts for all the Daisies and Brownies in my daughter's troop, in celebration of their Girl Scout Investiture ceremony.

Treasure Boxes for the Booty

Treasure boxes can be made by stitching 6 larger squares with a color and/or design theme, then stitching them together in a cube. It is important to map out which is the bottom and where you want to place the sides before stitching them together for the three dimensional effect. Also, make sure that you stitch them so that the front of the design is visible on the outside, and the top opens to allow things to be put inside.

I created a box for my mother and glued a felt backing on them, which created a soft lining inside the box. The pictures of all the separate sides and the finished box are in the bottom set of pictures. Not shown is the bottom panel of the box, which I stitched entirely with the same pink yarn as the background for the other panel designs. Now she has somewhere to keep all of her booty.

Boutique Tissue Box Covers

The box model described above can also be used for tissue box covers. You would only need 5 sides, since there would be no bottom panel in order for it to slide over the cube-shaped tissue boxes. The top will need to have a slit cut into it to allow for tissues to be pulled out. There are resources for the longer covers that slip over tissue boxes shaped like rectangular prisms.

Bookmarks

My most recent project has been stitching bookmarks as gifts for the bibliophiles in my circle of family and friends. They are easy to make, and can be as simple or as fancy as you are inclined to make them. Mine are cut from a square sheet of canvas. So far, half of a sheet has yielded around 12 pieces. After I stitch them, I glue a felt backing onto them with my mini glue gun. They may need to be pressed under a heavy object, such as a rock, if they are to be thin enough to serve as a bookmark. If they remain chunky, they can be used as rear-view mirror ornaments in your car. Just tie one between the mirror and the windshield, facing out, and your car will rock with style!

Resources

To help you along with finding resources for this new craft project, I have suggested some items below that may be purchased inexpensively from Amazon . I own a smaller, pocket guide to plastic canvas stitch designs that resembles the Plastic Canvas Stitch Dictionary at the top of the list.

Supplies, Techniques, and Gift Ideas for Stitching with Yarn and Plastic Canvas:

Plastic canvas in packages of 10 usually cost a couple of dollars each.

Plastic canvas in packages of 10 usually cost a couple of dollars each.

Yarn, sewing scissors, tapestry needles, and plastic canvas in various shapes are your basic supplies for this craft.

Yarn, sewing scissors, tapestry needles, and plastic canvas in various shapes are your basic supplies for this craft.

A tapestry needle threaded with yarn

A tapestry needle threaded with yarn

The basic pattern for stitching plastic canvas is up one hole and down another, usually at a diagonal.

The basic pattern for stitching plastic canvas is up one hole and down another, usually at a diagonal.

"Animal Booty" crafted for children in a community play.

"Animal Booty" crafted for children in a community play.

"Halloween Booty" crafted for my daughter's Kindergarten class.

"Halloween Booty" crafted for my daughter's Kindergarten class.

"Snowflake Booty" crafted for my daughter's ballet class. The one with 6 "arms" was my first...and then I graduated to 8 from there.

"Snowflake Booty" crafted for my daughter's ballet class. The one with 6 "arms" was my first...and then I graduated to 8 from there.

A single "snowflake booty" ornament

A single "snowflake booty" ornament

A coaster made for my husband with the logo he designed for his photography business.

A coaster made for my husband with the logo he designed for his photography business.

My "pearls and rose petals" coaster

My "pearls and rose petals" coaster

Top panel of the Treasure Box

Top panel of the Treasure Box

Right side panel of the Treasure Box

Right side panel of the Treasure Box

Back panel of the Treasure Box

Back panel of the Treasure Box

Front 3D view of my mother's Treasure Box

Front 3D view of my mother's Treasure Box

Bookmarks/Rear-view mirror ornaments stitched with various designs

Bookmarks/Rear-view mirror ornaments stitched with various designs

Guides to Plastic Canvas Designs ~

© 2011 Karen A Szklany

Comments

Karen A Szklany (author) from New England on August 19, 2018:

Thank you, Celeste. Once you pick it up you may never want to put it down.

Celeste Wilson on August 19, 2018:

Thank you for the great ideas, Karen. I love the Christmas decorations and bookmarks. What a great idea for a rainy day.

Karen A Szklany (author) from New England on April 18, 2013:

Thank you, courdoroygirl. 0)

So much creativity can be expressed through the Pirate Booty and anything else when stitching with yarn on plastic canvass. Enjoy! :0)

Angela from Little Rock, AR on April 15, 2013:

I love the idea of the pirate booty! Very nice hub!

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