How to Cross Stitch On Clothing Using Waste Canvas

Customize clothing with your own cross stitch designs.
Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images

Cross stitching designs onto a sweatshirt or T-shirt can make the item one-of-a-kind. With a basic understanding of cross stitching techniques, crafters can use waste canvas to create a unique article of clothing. Waste canvas, woven into a grid pattern, comes in several sizes, allowing you to customize just how large or small your want your design to be. Waste canvas can be purchased at any craft or fabric store.

Position the waste canvas on the article of clothing you will be stitching. First find the center of the design pattern by folding it lengthwise then widthwise. Where the two folds meet is the center of the pattern. Then decide where on the clothing you wish the design to be stitched. It can be centered or positioned on a side, or just about anywhere you desire. With a pin, mark the clothing where the center of the design will be.

Cut the waste canvas and interface an inch larger than the design. Fold these pieces in half both length and widthwise to determine where the center point is. Lay the waste canvas on the shirt so that the center point will meet with the pin on the shirt. Pin the waste canvas to the shirt. Do the same with the interface on the inside of the shirt. Using interfacing on the back of the clothing helps give the item more stability. When you are finished pinning, baste stitch the layers of waste canvas, shirt and interface to stay in place. Remove the pins. Use a large embroidery hoop to keep the material taut while you stitch.

Determine how many strands of floss you will need to use so that the background of the shirt does not show through the stitches. Do a couple of sample stitches to test this, beginning with three strands and increasing up to six strands, if needed. Use a sharp-ended needle instead of the usual tapestry needle used in cross stitch in order to work through all three layers.

Begin the design at the center point using the cross stitch techniques of beginning a stitch to hold it in place. Continue stitching until the entire design is complete.

Remove the waste canvas by getting it wet using a spray bottle. When the canvas is wet, it can be removed by pulling on the canvas threads using tweezers. Pull some vertically, then some horizontally, until all the threads are gone.

When finished, you may want to trim the interface on the back of the shirt if there is more than one half-inch extending beyond the design.


Recognize that different sizes of waste canvas will result in different sizes of designs. The larger the grid, the larger your finished project. Take that into account when you position your design on your clothing. Do not stitch between the threads of the waste canvas, or it will be impossible to remove after the design is complete. Bring your floss up and down only in the small hole corners around each square of the canvas.

About the Author

This article was written by a professional writer, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more, see our about us page: link below.