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DIY Canvas Art! or How to Stretch a Canvas with Perfect Corners in 6 Easy Steps! {a tutorial}

2013 November 27

Have you heard of Spoonflower? It’s a printing company located in North Carolina. They print custom wallpaper, decals, gift wrap and FABRIC! You are able to print your own designs – or you can buy a design from their marketplace of amazing designs. I came across the idea to make artwork with their printed linen-cotton canvas a while ago and finally made it happen!

This project is a “no sew” project – amazingly! The design is inspired by a piece of art I saw about a year ago. I love what it says, but had to fight the urge to add “Canadian” to the list of words in my artwork. For those of you who live in Canada I’m sure you will remember the “I Am Canadian” commercial from Molson a few years ago. This commercial is funny mostly because Canadians are NOT like the guy in the commercial. We are generally super quiet about our country – though a little more enthusiasm would likely be good! Anyhow, I didn’t want a beer reference in my daughters’ room – so I didn’t add it in.

Wanna make one yourself?!

Here’s what I did to make my art:

I designed the artwork to fit within a fat quarter of linen-cotton canvas. If you need help with the art, you can check out the Spoonflower helpful-page, which has lots of useful information and suggestions for creating and uploading your artwork. Because the linen-cotton canvas is 54″ wide, a fat quarter is 27″ x 18″. I used a final artwork size of 24″ x 14″ for my art – which left me just barely enough space to wrap the canvas around my 1 1/2″ deep gallery-style stretchers – really it was too little, but it worked! I would recommend using a final size of 22″ x 12″, to give yourself a few inches of wiggle room when stretching the canvas (instead of 1/2″!). If you get the thinner 1/2″ deep stretchers you will have lots of room at 24″ x 14″.

You will need:

  • 4 stretcher strips – I found mine at my local art store for less than $3.50 each
  • staple gun
  • your Spoonflower printed artwork!
  • picture hanging eye hooks and wire

Here are the steps I took:

(1) Attach your stretcher strips by pushing them together at the corners. I used a block of wood and a hammer to help out. Measure corner to corner and then the opposite corner to corner. Wiggle them around until the measurements match. This means your frame is square. (Note: I think you are “supposed” to add a few staples across the stretcher joints to make sure they stay square. Mine were so tight fitting I omitted this step.)

(2) Lay the frame on your artwork in the approximate middle. The curved part of the frame is the front, the flat side is the back.

(3) Wrap the canvas around and staple an even amount of canvas at the centre of each side.

(4) Continue to wrap and staple the canvas around the frame evenly. Staple one side beside the previous staple, then staple the opposite side. Flip the canvas over after each staple as you go to make sure the artwork is straight. Remove and re-staple as needed. This proved to be a tad more difficult for me than I had expected, because the text needed to be straight I had to be super-careful not to overstretch the canvas or it made the letters wonky. Continue around the canvas until the staples are within 2 or 3 inches of the corners.

(5) Perfect corners! (a) Staple one of the canvas edges close to the corner. (b) Fold the canvas around the corner and on a 45 degree angle “inside” the other side’s canvas. (c) Staple the bottom layer of canvas along the edge to hold it in place. (d) Fold the rest of the canvas down, ensuring the corner matches the front corner of the frame and the edge matches the edge of the frame. The 45 degree angle can be wiggled around a bit to make everything match exactly. (e) This is a photo to show that the canvas folded inside the outer layer will show a bit.

 (6) Attach two eye hooks and a length of wire approximately 1/3 of the way down the frame. This will make sure the frame hangs correctly on the wall.

All done – now go and hang up your new artwork!

I hope this tutorial has been helpful. I am most definitely going to use this to make some more for myself. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments! 

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8 Responses leave one →
  1. Laura permalink
    November 27, 2013

    This looks awesome! I’m definitely doing Spoonflower again and I might do something like this to put up somewhere in the house! And yes, I remember and loved the “I am Canadian” commercial :)

    • December 3, 2013

      Hee Hee! Love the commercial :) and Spoonflower is super addictive – watch out!

  2. Karen permalink
    November 28, 2013

    Hi Sherri – I love your canvas. My granddaughter just got a cell phone & the first text I received from her said “hi, I’m Cali & I am amazing”. I loved her enthusiasm and positive outlook as a young girl. I would love to recreate your canvas for her as a Christmas gift. I’m wondering if I could use what you already have or do I need to recreate the wheel?

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    • December 3, 2013

      Hi Karen, Unfortunately I can’t share my artwork because it is a close reproduction of the original work. I’m sure your granddaughter would love it – she sounds amazing! :) I’d love to see yours if you end up making one, though.

  3. Sharon Snell permalink
    March 19, 2015

    I was told by a framer shop that I should varnish my canvas print (of my own painting) before stretching to prevent cracking. Would that be like a Liquitex product? She did not recommend spraying.

    • March 25, 2015

      I’m sorry Sharon. I’m not sure…. This is ink printed onto canvas fabric – bit different, since it doesn’t crack.

      • Sharon Snell permalink
        March 25, 2015

        Mine is ink printed on fabric too. I’m confused! :/ Thank you for answering.

        • March 27, 2015

          Hi Sharon, I would assume you should be fine then. I’m pretty sure it won’t crack – though, don’t quote me on it! Mine has been hanging for over a year and it hasn’t cracked. Sherri

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