Hi – I’m Hannah, designer/maker and chief tea girl at Bobo Stitch. I have loved the process of cross stitch since I was very small, enjoying nothing more than curling up on the sofa with a fresh piece of linen and a new bundle of thread skeins.
Since becoming a professional designer a few years ago, how you use your finished cross stitch piece has always been front and centre in my mind, so when I found out about soluble canvas, my heart skipped a beat! This stuff is brilliant! You can tack it on to any piece of material and the holes in it act like a grid to simulate normal 14-count Aida. Once you’re done, the canvas just dissolves away in warm water leaving your perfect cross stitches behind. This opens up a whole new world both in terms of how you can use your cross stitch (t-shirts, blankets, towels, hoodies…) and the type of fabric that you can stitch upon (think vintage textiles, denim, jersey, printed cotton) without all the fiddling around and stitch snagging with waste canvas.
So as you may have gathered, I love this stuff and I have created kits around it to help you make some great kids’ gifts by putting contemporary designs on babygros and t-shirts.
Here are my top tips for soluble canvas…
This can open up a whole can of worms and trips to the fabric shop can become a lot more time-consuming and expensive. You can stitch onto anything that is strong enough to take it (so something like chiffon or silk isn’t really an option) and not too thick to get a needle through (tough denim might present a struggle). Often a patterned or dark fabric make the holes in the soluble canvas easier to see, so if you struggle with your eyesight, bear that in mind.
2. Buy some interfacing
Interfacing is something that goes behind your fabric to keep it stable while you stitch on it (so it doesn’t stretch or distort too much during the stitching process). ‘Iron-on’ is the best kind and it does exactly what it says on the tin – you literally iron-it on to the reverse of your fabric and it sticks in place. Interfacing is sold in weights to match your fabric. Something like a normal cotton t-shirt or babygro would need a medium-weight interface. Check with your local haberdashery if you need some help.
You’ll need both for this. You will need to use a sharp embroidery needle, rather than the blunter tapestry needles usually used in cross stitch. Embroidery needles are thin and so a little more difficult to thread. A wire needle threader can help.
4. Prewash your fabric
If you only take one thing away from this blog remember to wash everything first! Your fabric and interfacing will both need to have been washed to get rid of any excess dye and to ensure that everything is pre-shrunk so as not to distort your stitches later. Seriously… remembering this bit saves a lot of heartbreak at the end.
5. Iron your fabric
Iron your prewashed fabric before you start, and then iron one piece of the interfacing onto the wrong side of the area that you want to stitch on.
Using long running stitches tack the piece of soluble canvas onto the right side of your fabric (making sure that the stitches catch the soluble canvas, your fabric and the iron-on interfacing). Make sure that you get this absolutely straight.
8. Have fun stitching!
Finally we get to the fun part! Stitch as you would with normal Aida. If you are finding the holes difficult to see, shine a light directly onto the soluble canvas. The sheen of the plasticky canvas against the matt of your fabric will help enormously.
Once you have finished your stitches remove all your tacks from the edge of the canvas, then place your fabric into really warm (almost hot) water. Agitate a little and then leave it there and go and make your self a well-earned cuppa. After about 10 minutes, go and have a check. Give it a gentle rub if any residue remains. Once completely clear, take out and dry flat. If once dry there is any stiffness or shininess to your fabric, just repeat this step.
10. Protect the back of the work
If you have stitched onto a piece of clothing, place a second piece of iron-on interfacing over the top of the reverse of your stitches. This final step prevents the stitches from irritating the wearer.