Blank Needlepoint Canvas
Blank needlepoint canvas is the basis of all our stitching. Picking the correct type of canvas for your project can make your finished work sing. Picking the wrong canvas can make the end result misshapen, discolored, or worse.
There are three main types of blank needlepoint canvas: mono canvas, interlock canvas, and penelope canvas. The best versions of each of these canvases are made from cotton, although I have seen linen and polyester canvas.
While there are several manufacturers of canvas, the best ones come from Zweigart, a Swiss company. They are recognizable, if you can see the selvage because they have an orange line running through it. If you ever here someone talking about “orange line canvas,” this is what they mean.
Each type of canvas is explained below. After that I’ll talk about some specialty types of canvas you may want to use.
Mono canvas is the most widely used type of canvas in North America. It is used for the vast majority of painted canvases, and is the most popular type of blank needlepoint canvas.
It comes in a variety of sizes, from 5 or 7 mesh (rug canvas) to 18 mesh (the most popular size). The more popular sizes, especially 18 mesh, come in a variety of colors. Most mesh sizes 10 and above come in ecru, a dark beige, as well as white.
Mono blank needlepoint canvas is woven with a simple over one, under one method. This makes the intersections of two canvas threads “float,” so that different kinds of stitches can be used. It has the other important benefit that the stitched piece can be blocked back into shape because the ground fabric can move. Once blocked, it won’t return to its unblocked shape.
Becaue of this, the cotton fibers used to make mono canvas are longer and the thread for the mesh is thicker than interlock canvas.
Interlock canvas appears to be a lightweight mono canvas, but it isn’t. The horizontal (weft) threads are actually two threads which split at each intersection to lock it into place. One thread goes over the warp thread, while the other goes under.
Interlock canvas is also available in a variety of mesh sizes and colors. In North American it is found most often in kits.
Silk gauze and garment canvas are both types of Interlock canvas.
Interlock canvas uses shorter fibers than mono canvas and the threads are thinner, making the canvas lighter.
The problem with interlock canvas is the locked intersections. Once an interlock canvas gets out of shape, it is difficult to put it back and keep it that way. Even if it is blocked, the piece may still revert to its former shape.
Penelope, or duo, canvas, has two threads for both the warp (vertical) and weft (horizontal) threads. It is woven like mono canvas with over one, under one, so that the intersection can move.
This is the beauty of Penelope canvas. because of its double thread construction, you can split open the intersections and make a canvas at double the mesh size. That way if you want to stitch details, like a face, you can without stitching the entire piece in the smaller mesh.
Of course, you can also stitch it in the larger size. Penelope canvas is more popular in Europe than in North America.
Specialty Blank Needlepoint Canvas
Waste Canvas: This canvas is made for stitching counted techniques, like needlepoint, onto regular fabrics. It comes in a variety of sizes and is recognizable by the blue threads woven every five threads.
Baste this canvas onto the fabric and stitch, using an embroidery hoop. Once you have finished soak the canvas in water, which will dissolve the starch holding it together. Cut the basting stitches and then pull out the threads using a tweezers.
Congress Cloth: This is the name for a mono needlepoint canvas of 23 or 24 mesh. It comes in a variety of colors and has very large canvas threads for its size. This makes it a great choice when the canvas will be exposed.
It is most popular for class projects and counted canvas, although it is sometimes used for painted needlepoint canvas.
If you use Congress Cloth, do not get it wet, it will permanently discolor the canvas.
Silk Gauze: This canvas is made from silk and is woven like an Interlock canvas. It comes in mesh sizes from 20 to 60 and often needs to be stitched using a magnifier.
Because this canvas is so expensive, you often find small pieces mounted in frames or pieces included in kits.
Garment Canvas: This canvas is lightweight and made from synthetic fibers so that it can be attached to clothing and washed.
With so many types of blank needlepoint canvas from which to choose, you can find the right canvas for any project.