DIY Canvas Design: Part I – Getting Stuff Ready


Illo / Pragmatic Mom

So you have a cute drawing by your kids or grandchildren that you want to stitch, or maybe some sports team logo that you want to give to that special fan in your life. Perhaps you have something else entirely that you want to commit to thread … how do you go about turning a seemingly impractical idea into a custom needlepoint canvas design?

Well, this is your lucky day!

In the coming weeks, before I leave for my Labor Day vacation in NY, I’m going to put up a series of posts that will show you exactly how to create your own needlepoint design on 18-mesh mono.  The only challenge is that it be doable for under $50 dollars.

Assuming you have some basic things lying around the house, such as embroidery scissors, needles, thimbles,  a computer, printer, and an Internet connection, here’s a list of additional items you’ll need to get started.

I’m not getting paid to plug Amazon, but I did in fact buy all the items of the DIY Shopping List (see below) there.  This saved me money on tax and shipping and conveniently allowed me to have one-stop shopping, as they handled the third-party payments to the speciality online retailers that carry some of these items.

DIY Shopping List

1)  Zweigart Mono Orange Line Deluxe Canvas 18 Mesh, White, 18″ X 20″

Zweigart Canvas_

I am not a big fan of interlocking canvas. It’s mostly used in kits and is usually very soft and requires a lot of blocking when you’ve finished stitching, especially if you don’t use a frame.  Mono is the only way to stitch.  It’s durable, and you can work with weave of the canvas.  Don’t even mention the word plastic.


2) Zig Memory System Writer Dual-Tip Markers, Multicolor, 8-Pack

Zig Markers_

While most professional designers use acrylic paint for their canvas designs, for my little DIY experiment, I am just going to use some colored pens. Nice primary colors, which should suffice in order for the white canvas not to show through the stitched threads.  Must have item!


3) Kreinik 12 Sheets of Acid Free Tissue Paper, 20″ x 30″

Kreinik Paper_

You don’t really need this, but you should always properly store your needlepoint designs, whether you make them yourself or not!


4) Fabric Eraser

Fabric Eraser

Totally, like, critical. (see next item)


5) Derwent Graphic Pencil 4H

Derwent Graphic Pencil_

I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to use non-xylene markers.  I want something that draws a line that I can erase easily if I need to do so.  Let’s see if this works properly on the design I have in mind.


Total Cost $42.83

Things I already have on hand

1) Scissors

Cat ScissorsThe sharper the better!  Here’s a fancy one I use on special occasions, like when I can’t find my regular ones, due to my fob phobia. This is a cool black cat that I really like.

2) Needles

I’ve heard it said that for every project you should use a new needle.  Be that as it may, the thing to keep in mind for 18 mesh canvas is that you will need size 22 needles.  I’ve seen these at Hobby Lobby.  They are usually sold in packets of 6.  When you take a break from your stitching, never park your needle in the design.  Here in Florida, needles rust much more so than up north, so it’s something to keep in mind.

3) Stretcher bars

Canvas Frame

Highly recommended, but not essential.  You can buy these on-line also.  There are all sorts of products available to keep your needlepoint stable while stitching.  My personal favorites are Ever-tite stretcher bars, Rolaframe products, and K’s scroll frames.

5) Needle Keepers

Sea Horse Needle MagnetIf you are working on stretcher bars, it is quite useful to have needle keepers on the canvas. Shown here is one that I happen to like very much. These are usually two pieced magnets and you place one of the magnets on the back side of the canvas and match up the other (which often has a design) on the front side of the canvas, and voila, you don’t have to worry so much about your needles slipping out of the canvas and falling on the floor.

6) Threads

Again, Hobby Lobby, Joanne’s, Michael’s can give you plenty of low-cost, decent quality choices.  If you want to go higher-end, or choose from a variety of speciality threads, you should always think about paying a visit to your local needlepoint shop.

7)  Thimble

I have several (given to me by my mother), but I never seem to  use them.  Don’t let that stop you from using one if you want to!

8) Computer

I use my old-school desktop for this sort of thing.  It runs Vista and has plenty of memory for my graphics packages.  I have had no problems chugging along as best I can!

9) Printer

There used to be a bias toward favoring inkjet for printing out illustrations, but the new, relatively low-cost color laser printers make that distinction less important these days.

10)  Sharpie Fine Point Marker

To trace over the lines of your design (that you on printed out on a sheet of paper) to make it easier to trace on the canvas.

Next:  Getting your Design in Needlepoint Shape

Erin McGrath and, 2012 – 2016.


About Erin

Owner of Needlepoint Land, LLC. Professional in the field for more than 15 years, during which I have managed and/or worked with various high-end needlepoint shops. I enjoy teaching both beginners and advanced stitchers, and have created numerous stitch guides, with speciality thread selections, for in-store customers and private clients. I maintain contact with an extensive network of needlepoint vendors, custom artists, and, most importantly, reliable, high-quality finishers. I look forward to hearing your comments on my blog!

2 responses »

  1. The destruction of real New York Irish dive bars has been long lamented and noted by those who still remember. See this blog, for instance:
    I think the renaming of Hell’s Kitchen as “Clinton” is completely grotesque. Now Hell’s Kitchen is all frat boys pulling all night benders and yuppies from somewhere else.
    Best abandon it for Chelsea, which still keeps it real, and hang out at the Peter McManus Cafe, a genuine dive bar that still looks like an Irish pub, wooden phone booth and zinc ceiling and a parade of off-the-wall locals!
    In Greenwich Village, it is incredibly sad to me that the Lion’s Head no longer is in existence, and has not been for some time now.
    But the Dublin House is still pretty much the same. Except that probably few now remember (or care about) the night a Columbia student was killed on its front steps in the 80s, and probably no one who actually still goes there now was there then, except for maybe a few geezer daytime barflies.
    I will look around for some Celtic needlepoint designs!

  2. Funny… UWS Irish dive bars are in my genes too!!! My great uncles owned a string of them first in Hell’s Kitchen, of course…Have been thinking of some kind of Celtic design for a while… Keep it in mind as you are around your needlepoint land!!!

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