Cross Stitch Tutorial: How to work with Waste Canvas and stitch on any fabric you like

Cross stitch on any fabric you like

Feel like cross stitching our patterns on cushion covers, t-shirts, blankets, or tea towels? Use waste canvas and you will soon stitch like a pro on any type of fabric. You can also use it for cross stitching on a quilt block for your next quilt project! Once you get started with waste canvas you’ll soon find soo many cool projects to start with!

In this tutorial we love to share with you our experience with stitching a cushion cover with our Indonesia map pattern

What you need to work with Waste Canvas


On the shopping list:

  • A cross stitch pattern
  • A piece of waste canvas a bit larger than the size of your pattern
  • Fabric you would like to embroider on –  it works best with thicker fabrics, even on felt, but you can also stitch on jersey and thinner fabrics.
  • Interfacing -> in case you decided to stitch on a fabric that has a bit of stretch  (e.g. most t-shirts do)  or on a thin fabric, then ensure you use interfacing on your fabric. Interfacing is a non-stretchy fabric which is used to stabilize stretchy fabric.
  • Sewing thread, ideally in a contrasting color – You’ll only use it to loosey connect the waste canvas on the  fabric, and it will be easier to see, once you have to remove it later in the process.
  • Good quality embroidery floss as indicated on the pattern (we love DMC – as the colors stay nice after laundry – but you can use other brands as well)
  • Embroidery scissors and tweezer
  • A sharp embroidery needle – as you’ll need to stitch through fabric its easier to work with sharp needles rather than the blunt we normally use
  • Pins – for temporary connecting the waste canvas, and interfacing,  on the fabric

Before you start stitching, ensure that your fabric is nicely ironed and without wrinkles. Stitching over wrinkles would mean they stay in forever – and that’s not what we want. It will also help to wash your fabric before you start. It will be so disappointing if it shrinks after you wash it.

Step 1:  Loosely stitch the waste canvas on your fabric

Cut your waste canvas slightly larger then the size of the pattern. The pattern will tell you how large it needs to be. When you use interfacing, cut it in the same size.

Now lay the waste canvas on top of your fabric and the interfacing on the other side of the fabric, exactly on the spot where your would like to stitch.

Once you’re happy with your placement, pin the different layers together to keep it in place. Now temporarily baste all the layers together so they don’t slip while you stitch.  Use a baste-stitch to connect the layers together using sewing thread in a contrasting color as shown on the picture.


As a small bonus tip: It helps to use a hoop to keep the waste canvas nicely in order.

Step 2: Start cross stitching

Cross stitch the design from the chart as usual, except where you would usually be counting the threads in your linen or other cloth, you will be using the holes provided in the waste canvas much the same way you do with Aida cloth.

On waste canvas you stitch in the little holes, and not in the big ones. We like to make our final piece twice as big, and stitched with a double thread over 2 holes. You can see how it works on the picture.
And this it how it looks like when we’re finished with stitching.

Step 3: Remove the waste canvas: fun!

Ready with cross stitching your pattern?
Remove your baste-stitch and get ready for some fun!
Take your tweezers and start removing the waste canvas thread by thread. Start at the outer threads and work towards the middle. The first ones might be a bit tricky, but it gets easier as you go.

And before you know you will enjoy your finished work! Here’s how the map of Indonesia looks like at a cushion cover in a relax resort at Bali: