I’m getting a turtle bag later this summer and I wanted to get a head start on the stitching for it. I picked this Rachel Donley canvas of a cat topiary. Because my plan is to use a stitch with some threads showing as a background, the white canvas is a problem. With white canvas, you are limited to white and very pale threads unless you want the open canvas to be a design element.
With the vast majority of canvases painted on white with no borders, you may have encountered this same problem. Most of the time we do one of three things. We
— pick a white or pale color
— pick a full-coverage stitch
— have the white canvas be a design element.
I did not want to do any of these things. I wanted pink and pink to show on the open threads. The only solution is to color the background. For many this process is fraught with frustration because our efforts will not look like a commercially painted canvas. That’s because the canvases you buy are made to look appealing so we will buy them. They are also painted by experienced professional canvas painters.
I am not one of these people and most likely neither are you.
But you can color your canvas so that it is good enough for stitching. The color, as you can see, is not even, but it covers everything and will allow me to stitch an open background. The uneven coat will not work if you have a background with many exposed threads. It’s perfect for many skip-a-row stitches or stitches that have occasional open threads. The unstitched look is almost like sponge-painting.
To do this you’ll need to use either acrylic paint or pens made for marking fabric with brush or chisel tips.
The first step is to use an extra-fine marker, such as a Pigma MICRON, to make the outline of the stitch marker. Next, find a pen close to but slightly lighter than your chosen thread. Using short straight strokes color the edges of your marked area. Very carefully color around all the painted areas. This can be very hard to do, so it makes sense to color slowly.
Once these edges are colored in, you can fill them in with your pen. I continued to do this with short strokes.
For a pen, I used a COPIC marker. Other options are FabricMate markers or Deco color markers for fabric. Look for double-ended ones that have a brush on one end and a chisel-point on the other. I found using the brush easier. If you choose to use paints, thin them slightly to the thickness of coffee cream. Use a thin brush to do the edges and a 1″ foam brush to fill in. You might want to cover parts of the design to keep your paint from getting on it.
You can also use this technique to color your background before stitching it with a dark-colored thread, even if it is a solid stitch. Your stitch will look better and you will not get needlepoint dandruff.
Let your canvas dry overnight before stitching.
You’ll see this canvas again next month as a Background idea.