Reverse Canvas – Step By Step

Cliff Notes:

  • Skill level – moderate  (svg is a bit trickier to weed, thin letters are harder to place, and canvas is not the easiest – nor the hardest – material to work with)
  • Canvas is 16×20 from Wal-Mart (cheaper at Michaels on sale, but I had these on hand)
  • SVG is from here:
  • I used 651 for this one, but htv is a lot easier! (651 is cheaper)

The above graphic is a GREAT recommendation, and has been posted many times in many cricut facebook groups.  The watermark says ” LOVELAND DESIGN MARKET” – which google seems to think is a carpet store.  Whomever made it did such a great job – it’s a quick explanation of a reverse canvas!

This year when I pulled out all of my old traditional fall decor, I found I didn’t really love any of it, nor feel like decorating with it.  Whether this is part of my empty nest adjustment, or if it’s because all of the new “fall” colors of sage, gold, grey and off white are so pretty in the craft stores this year…  I don’t know.

I do know that I do not plan to spend money on all new decor this year.  But I can make a few new pieces to freshen up some of the old…  starting with a reverse canvas.

Looking for a specific theme of free svgs?  I have lots of them here:


I was originally looking for designs for some pillows in my hallway…  but I saw this design and decided I could make a “quick” reverse canvas for the living room.  Now don’t get me wrong, reverse canvases CAN be a very quick project.  And this one really didn’t take me too long.  But if you want truly quick, use htv.  I wanted quick AND cheap, so I used orcal 651.  I’ve used Orcal 651 on a variety of canvases in the past year with no problems.  But today, for some reason (different canvas?  Thinner design?) I had a dickens of a time getting the vinyl to stick!

Below is a protracted, very beginner, step by step of how I made this.

Starting With The Design:

Download the svg here:

Resize it to eleven.5 wide – it’s the biggest that Cricut can reduce, and it works well for the 16×20 canvases (that are clearly 14×18 within the body, and you need to depart a touch area around the edges.

If you’re using a roll of vinyl and the 24 inch long mat, actually choose "connect" and make the design.

If you need to use 12×12 sheets of vinyl and 12×12 mats:

Tip – as soon as you have a section attached, drag it to the aspect to make sure you failed to leave out anything.

  • ungroup
  • Select all of the letters in the word football, attach them so they are one word.
  • Attach everything above the word football, and the word football, so they are one “piece”.
  • Repeat with everything under the word football.  When finished, if you select all, you should have just two items selected.

Next, The Frame:

It takes a couple of minutes for this to cut, so this is a good time to start the frame.

I don’t bother to remove the staples.  Simply use a utility knife to cut around the edges.  When you reapply the canvas, you can staple right over the pieces that are left on the frame.  For me, this is a quick craft project, I’m not concerned with a perfectly finished back – it won’t be seen.

When you look around the frame, you will see notches.  Some people choose to fill them with wood putty – but it’s really not necessary.  (see photo below)  You won’t really notice them once painted or stained.

Typically when I make these they are monograms, and I paint the frame black.  For this, I wanted more of a grey…  so I mixed a few colors together.  Then once I painted it all on, I thought it was a bit dark, so with the first coat still wet I dipped the brush in an off white and blended that in to lighten it.

Weeding The Design

First I trim the design as much as possible – I find it easier to weed if there’s not a lot of extra vinyl around the edges.  I always start by pulling up a corner and pulling gently and slowly on a diagonal.

While the paint dried, I weeded the design.  It can be a bit tedious – the letters for football are a pain.  But if you take a piece of the extra vinyl out of the letters, then stick it over one of the letters in football, it will pull up a good bit of the tiny pieces at the bottom of the letters.  (I’ve read that others use lint rollers to help with weeding like this)

Transferring the Vinyl –

I use dollar tree  contact paper for transferring. It works great for me – and it is cheap!

You can use the identical transfer paper again and again.

With the design upside down, rub the scraper tool over the white backing to press the design down into the contact paper.  Then peel the backing off slowly and gently, on the diaganol.

I placed the top section, not on transfer paper, on the top to see where I wanted to place it.  Placed the bottom (on the transfer paper) on, removed the top piece, and tediously attached the vinyl.

This is not usually tedious. But for this project, I had a miserable time getting the vinyl to stick!  I worked slowly, rocking the clear transfer paper back and forth and using the scraping tool to press the vinyl onto the canvas.  I’ve done many canvases this year, this is the first one I had this much trouble with.  This canvas was from wal-mart, I normally use ones from Michaels or AC Moore – it’s possible they are treated differently?  I really wished I had used htv for this, but I DID get the 651 to stick. and when it was all on, I took a hair dryer over it, to smooth out some of the thinner places that had stretched and wrinkled as I transferred it.

I use a staple gun to re-attach the canvas.  Starting with the corners and pulling it tightly.

There’s a lot of extra canvas hanging over the edges.  I just trim it with scissors.

To hang these, I use picture hangers.  They attach with tiny nails and you can buy them pretty much anywhere – I have found them at dollar general.


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