Possibly Educational

How to Make a Canvas

I got a couple of requests to give some details on the canvases I’ve been making. So here we go!

Materials:
•A miter saw (power or by hand)
•Staple gun and staples
•1×2 pine boards (about $1 for 8 ft)
•Canvas or other fabric (Hobby Lobby has lots of cute printed duck for $6/yd with the 40% off coupon, but I’ve also used a plain canvas drop cloth from Home Depot that was about $10 for 9x5ish ft. You could also use just normal cotton fabric)

I start by figuring out what dimensions I want and make 45 degree cuts to those sizes measuring from the long side of the angles, ending up with 2 of each size.

I then put the angles together on a flat surface, double checking the measurements are correct and things line up well (although it’s not a big deal if it’s not perfect).

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I then take my staple gun and holding the two pieces of a corner close together I put in two staples, straddling the seam. I do this for each corner, then flip (somewhat carefully–it’ll still be a little wobbly) and repeat on the other side. Pine is pretty soft, so the staples usually go in all the way easily. If I hit a knot and it doesn’t go in well, I’ll finish it off with a hammer.

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Ta daa!

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For the canvas measure off your frame dimensions plus an extra 4 inches top to bottom and side to side (2 inches extra per side). It’s a pretty big margin of error, so I don’t go to too much trouble making the cuts straight. Set the canvas down on a flat surface (wrong side up for printed fabrics) and center the frame on the canvas.

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Pull one edge of the fabric over the frame and put a staple in the middle. Pull the opposite edge tight (although be careful it doesn’t tear) over the frame and staple in the middle. Repeat with the other two sides. (P.S. my canvas happened to be a little short on the short sides–I’d cut it for something else–which is a little trickier to stretch, but doable)

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Go back to the first side and pull tight putting one staple on each side of the first staple a couple inches away (I don’t measure exactly). Repeat on the opposite side, and then again on the other two sides. And then continue in that manner until you get to the edges. (Follow the numbers in the picture if that doesn’t make sense)

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Finishing off the corners is pretty simple, but hard to explain. Just be sure to decide beforehand if you want the folds on the top and bottom or the sides. I think I prefer top and bottom, but it doesn’t matter very much. Here’s an illustration:

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That’s it! The stretching should get rid of most of the creases, but if not I turn it right side down and go over it with an iron. If it’s printed fabric it’s ready to hang. If it’s plain and you’re going to paint over it with acrylic paint, a coat of primer (or even normal latex paint) is helpful because the fabric soaks acrylic right up. If you’re gluing pictures on, it sticks fine without priming first (I use a craft tacky glue).

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I don’t put pictures of my child on the blog (hence the sticker over his face), but I wanted to show some different ways I’ve done picture canvases.

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