How I stretch quilts over canvas

I recently discovered how much I like to stretch quilts over canvas. It was quite by accident, although I was influenced by having seen some work displayed that way by fellow Etcetera member Leah Higgins. I decided to give it a go myself when I made a quilt which displeased me. In a fit of adventure I decided to fussy cut six eight inch squares from it and work on those more to produce individual pieces and to use them to practice stretching.

The first ones involved a fair bit of cussing, undoing and redoing and glue on everything around me but eventually I found a method I’m pretty happy with. I may well be reinventing the wheel but in the hope it helps someone, here is how I am doing it:

Graffiti 6 (Brick Lane) casual shot

1. I decide before I start what size of canvas I will be using. In this example I am using a canvas from Jacksons which measures 40 x 64.7 cm. I know. I assumed it converted to something sensible in inches. It doesn’t. Then I realised its an odd number but it is a size that conforms to the Golden Ratio so as to be visually pleasing. Visually pleasing does not equate to easy to measure but if you keep reading you will see I have a cunning solution 🙂
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2. I prepare the top with two layers only and make it a little bigger than I want the end result to allow for shrinkage.

3. When completed I steam iron the top but do not formally block it. I trim straight one long and one short side of the quilt.

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4. And this is where the Golden problem comes in. And in fact it was a problem even with the small canvases.  I want the top the same size as the canvas. However, canvas comes in centimetres. My rulers are in inches. Plus I have a quarter inch foot so even buying a ruler in metric would not help. Much messing about with templates and masking tape guides on rulers later, I found an easy solution: lay the canvas face down on the quilt top aligning tow edges of the canvas with the with the two trimmed edges of the top. Slip a ruler under the canvas and align it so that the canvas still lines up with the quilt edge and an exact half inch of ruler peeks out on the right. Trim. Repeat for bottom edge.

Stretching over canvas - ruler

5.Cut two inch wide strips of whatever fabric you want on the side if the canvas and sew these strips like traditional sashing to all four edges.

Stretching over canvas -  sashing
6. Press the strips towards the top and trim the seam allowance to a mere slither. This reduces bulk but be sure not to cut your seam stitches! Then press the sashing away from the top.

Stretching over canvas - trimming seam
7. Turn the top face down. Spread some glue over the canvas and align it perfectly with the wadding. Smooth down from the back  so it sticks. You don’t need to glue the entire canvas just a random smear. I found thus step invaluable in preventing the canvas slipping when I stretched it. If you don’t like the smell of glue (or if you like it too much) you can use doubled sided sticky tape.

Stretching over canvas - glue to to

8. Starting with the edge nearest you ( I work the long ends first ) glue along the side of the canvas and a strip on the top edge. Pull the sashing strip over the canvas edge. I find it looks best if you tug just enough to pull the seam itself just over onto the side so it’s not visible from the front. 

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9. Turn the quilt and do the same on the otherside. I find it easiest to turn the canvas up on the edge I just glued down so I can get a good pull on it. Glue as before.

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10. At the short ends, fold the corners like parcels or hospital bed corners and again pull the sashing up so the seam is just on the side and glue.



11. Cover the edges of the sashing strips with painters tape. 

There! Stretched. My intention is to screw in D rings and add picture hanging cord but I confess I am awaiting deliveries from E-Bay before I can do that part.

There are no doubt other ways to do this. Leah I know with her big quilts does not add sashing but makes her top larger than the wadding and stretches the neatly trimmed top over the edges. Because she cannot account in advance for the shrinkage she plans to have custom measured frames made.  Lisa Call sews her bound quilts to painted canvases in an operation that looks great but makes my fingers hurt just thinking about it. I see no reasons why you could not just glue textile to painted canvas if you have no concerns about the effect of the glue on your work long term.

What about you? Do you have a different way to stretch quilts over canvas? Or a different way of displaying quilts altogether?




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