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How to embroider on a canvas

Have you ever stopped mid action, looked up to the sky and wondered how to embroider on a canvas? Or how to make mixed media embroidery? It happens all the time, right?

OK maybe you shouldn’t answer that question.

Stuff like that happens to me ALL THE TIME. I am always looking for new ways to use my creativity. And this project was so absolutely satisfying.

I have done something like this in the past: mixed media embroidery. It’s also known as tinted embroidery.

Mixed media embroidery

Or as I like to call it – shortcut embroidery.  Fabric markers or thinned down craft paint to color in your design is the boost it needs to make it come to life! The embroidery stitches are used as the outline and create the magic.

Mixed media embroidery unravels a LOT of creative opportunities. In this case we are embroidering on a canvas, but there are other methods. I have a friend who embroidered on an onion bag, and I saw someone else stitch an art masterpiece on a coffee bean bag.

When it comes to thread, you can use traditional embroidery thread or use twine, yarn, even jute for big projects.

Mixed media is simply adding other techniques and elements and I love it. I think you will too!

embroidery stitches

The twist this time is how to embroider on a canvas

Check out my video tutorial of how to embroider on a canvas


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A post shared by Kathy Cano-Murillo (@craftychica)

This has been a popular trend, and it is absolutely genius. Rather than mess with loose fabric and an embroidery hoop, you simply pick up a stretched canvas and embroider directly on that. It’s an art piece ready-to-go!

Why didn’t we think of this sooner?


In this case, I used a round, stretched canvas. I will walk you through the directions, but I get very detailed with my designs, but you can keep it super simple.

And if you love these types of craft projects, I just open registration on my Crafty Colores Online Craft Retreat, this project is one of the classes I will be teaching!


Round stretched canvas
Embroidery floss
Embroidery needle
Fabric markers
Craft paint, if desired.


embroidered heart

OK, how to start… For the canvas that I created, are used a white paint pen to draw the cactus in the center. And then I colored it in with fabric markers, followed by the background.

how to embroider on a canvas - mixed media embroidery

However, another way to do it is to paint the background whatever color you want. Maybe you want to do color blocking, or just two colors separated in the middle.

Once you are done with the background, and it is completely dry, it’s time to start the embroidery fun.


Using six strand embroidery thread, cut a piece that reaches from the tip of your middle finger to your elbow.

Carefully separate the six strands into two groups of three strands each.

Thread your needle with the three strands, use a needle threader if necessary. If you want, a thicker chunkier, look to your embroidery, simply gather both loose ends and tie a knot, and now you have a six strand embroidery thread to use.

For a thinner look, do not double the thread, simply tie a knot at the end of the three strands and keep a tail at the top of your needle.

To outline, we are going to use a split stitch

how to embroider on a canvas - mixed media embroidery

Insert your needle underneath and pull it up through the canvas all the way. Now bring it down about half a centimeter down through the canvas and pull it tight.

Bring the needle up again between the middle of the first stitch. And now go down again through the canvas and keep repeating the process of bringing your needle up through the middle of the previous stitch.

When you run out of thread, simply tie a knot underneath on the back of the canvas, and re-thread your needle.

Continue outlining your design and if you want, you can add more stitches to fill up the negative space.

how to embroider on a canvas - mixed media embroidery

That is what I did with mine. Keep in mind that the wood frame of the canvas will prevent you from embroidering to the edge.

That is what inspired me to put a painted border around the top.

how to embroider on a canvas - mixed media embroidery

To make it even more dimensional, use brush on glitter varnish!

When you are done, embroidering, turn it over and cut all of the excess threads.

how to embroider on a canvas - mixed media embroidery

Now you’re ready to hang it up and show it off! Again, I’m a very maximilist crafter. Heavy on the mixed media. Adapt this idea to fit your style!

how to embroider on a canvas - mixed media embroidery

Other ideas for how to embroider on a canvas

-Embroider a name or a word
– Use only one color and outline a face or body
– Rather than use paint for the background, you could use a very thin decoupage with tissue paper.
– Make a set of these to give as bridal gifts or a craft night project.
– Experiment with metallic threads, it will add some pretty shimmer!

Thank you for checking out my project on how to embroider on a canvas!

Have you ever tried mix, media embroidery like this? Let me know if you have, I would love to see what you create!


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