May 11, 2014

Stitching On Canvas

I have recently started the move to stitch straight onto painters canvas.
I like that directness but and have learned a few things;
First ... as strong as it is, even dense stitches will make canvas ripple/pucker as you go. 
Not much, but just enough to concern me when it comes to my work.
Second ... canvas shrinks when you wet it. 
I noticed this when I tried to paint a wash as a background (acrylic paint, well watered).

I'm sure I will learn lots more as I progress.
My latest piece which I have named 'Thicket' (in photo below) was painted with a grey wash before I started stitching, but with dense rows of stitching it was showing some rippling in spite of the pre-shrinking. I decided to staple the piece to a board, wet it thoroughly and let dry in the sun. 
It only shrunk minimally after that last wetting, but enough to let me frame it without worrying too much about and 'pouffs' in the canvas.

After taking a new photo of re-shrunk canvas and then cropping it to approx. finished edges, I am happy with it and will stretch it onto a frame soon. The colouring is a bit off in this photo.

THICKET - detail


  1. What a beautiful piece. Very evocative. (I am reaching for my sweater!) I especially love the little white branches that seem to be reaching right of the piece into the foreground!! Do you find your sewing machine has any problems with the thickness of the canvas??? And no problems with the building up of stitches as you are working??

    1. Thank you Marny !
      My old sewing machine sews through just about anything (that's why I love the old steel body ... they work and work hard). The needle I used was #14. Canvas is a little thicker but it's an open weave so I had very little/no problems. I am sure that if I wanted to build any deeper, I would have gone to a #16 needle to punch the thread through. I stitch with my foot on but the pressure off, so it would have taken a build up of stitches in stride.

    2. great stuff...thanks for the info. Clearly, I have to get some more needles!

  2. yes, the little ghost tree is wonderful. Great depth

  3. Thank you Elle ... and 'ghost tree' is so appropriate ;)

  4. I prewashed all my canvas for a workshop several years ago, much easier to work with. Even the unsized/untreated type feels better after--you can build up quite a density with it but it sure does get stiff!

    I just took off *my* sweater here in Calgary, now you want me to put it back on ? :) The red dogwood (?) in the foreground reminds me of here.

    1. Hi Arlee ... I just recently learned that the red dogwood was nicknamed the 'pioneer plant' as it is the first 'out' there and usually behind came the hawthorne trees, both providing protection for the pines and hardwoods as they start to grow ... from the deer/other wildlife that like to nibble on new shoots. I was so impressed by the job Mother Nature gave these beautifully coloured plants. If the 'predator' got through the redwood, the hawthorns discouraged any further attempt to graze behind the red barrier ... interesting !
      Lol ... keep your sweater handy ... more Winter 2014 threadpaintings coming up.

  5. I've been thinking about stitching direct into artist's canvas for some time - in my case so I can combine a good layer of paint with stitch - so many thanks for these thoughts.
    I love the results - the slight puckering and also the lines of stitch in the foreground give a wonderful impression of snow ... lovely depth ... most effective!

    1. You are very welcome CS,
      ... and definitely give stitching on canvas a try it a try !
      Thank you !


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