Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Plastic Canvas can be Fashionable

By Christina VanGinkel

I created my first item from plastic canvas so many years ago, I gave up trying to figure out when it was, only to come to the realization that it was before I met my husband who I have been married to for nearly twenty-five years. Through the years, I have constructed everything from coasters and dolls, to Christmas and Halloween ornaments, and even checkbook covers and tissue box covers from various sized sheets and shapes of plastic canvas and an assortment of yarns and threads. One of the things I enjoy most about working with plastic canvas is the fact that the designs are often whimsical in nature. As far as crafting hobbies go, plastic canvas is a hobby that is easy to learn, and both children and adults can quickly learn how to do it.

While supplies vary, the average plastic canvas project is worked with a large eyed plastic needle that is easy to thread. This fact alone draws many people to the craft. Even today, when I am in a crafting mood, yet my hands are too sore to pick up my beads and small needles or a crochet hook, I will often reach for my stash of plastic canvas supplies.

Plastic canvas has gotten a bad reputation (unfair in my humble opinion) through the years as a craft that does not produce fashionable, quality pieces though. When someone thinks of plastic canvas they often think of cheap looking, useless items. You can create some unique items from plastic canvas supplies. A lot will depend on the materials you chose to work with. It will also be important as to what the item is, and the care and time spent stitching the piece and assembling when called for.

Quilt patterns are perfect for transforming into plastic canvas and carry themselves well into pieces that expound the typical plastic canvas article. The colors and designs in a quilt pattern, transformed with a plastic canvas in a variety of sizes and yarns have the advantage of color and design play in an easily constructed form. If you have a room, comfortably decorated with early American artifacts, the addition of a s t of coasters in a vintage quilt pattern would fit right in and not bring with it a sense of cutesy when instead you were aiming at handcrafted class.

When shopping for plastic canvas supplies, consider both the size of the plastic canvas, and the material you will use to stitch onto the canvas with. The larger the count, the smaller the hole will be, the smaller the number, the larger the hole, similar to cross stitch sizing. For example, a 14-count sheet of plastic canvas is going to correlate to smaller holes in the canvas when compared with a 10-count sheet of plastic canvas. Because of this, a 14 count is going to look more uniform in design because the holes are not as large, thus yarn will fill in more of the space. A larger number corresponding to a smaller hole size, will also provide you with the choice to use alternative materials besides traditional thick yarns. Thread, cotton floss, baby yarns, even seed beads can all be used on canvas, but will work much better on a 14-count sheet when compared to a 10-count.

If you are more comfortable working with a ten count though, or have the perfect project for something as large as a 7-count, then consider using a material other than 4-ply yarn if the project would both accommodate it and look better with the alternative choice. Consider strips of fabric, cording, including the somewhat elastic metallic sold for use with plastic canvas, or even several thicknesses of cotton embroidery thread held together. An example of a project using a non traditional material on a larger sized canvas could be a small hanging basket to catch mail made of a 7-count plastic canvas stitched with hemp cord and decorated with a three dimensional embroidered flower stitched right over the top of the hemp. I made mine of two sheets stitched together on three sides, leaving one end open to slip mail in. I braided a cord handle and hung it on the drawer handle of my buffet.

Plastic canvas projects can be fashionable, fitting into a home's decor no matter your decorating style. If you enjoy creating with plastic canvas, or have always wanted to try it, but just did not think you would put to use anything you made, reconsider this fun hobby. It is a great way to relax, is not complicated at all, and the materials you use can have a huge impact on the finished project.

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