There are different plastic canvases – and you’re probably using the wrong one.

Right now you probably have a quizical look on your face, afterall, you know what plastic canvas looks like, how can there be different types? Well, actually there are three different types, used for three different purposes, and most of the time, people use the wrong one. I stitch a lot of things in plastic canvas, and I’ve sold patterns and kits all over the world, however I regularly get asked about the type of plastic canvas. In reality, there is only one cross stitch plastic canvas.
This isn’t due to stupiditiy or anything, but more a case of cheap fakes. In fact, ever since 1973 when plastic canvas first came to market, people have been ripping it off. You see, plastic canvas is super easy to fake and as a result most stores hold ’14 count cross stitch plastic canvas’ which are actually, not cross stitch plastic canvas. Confused? Let me explain…

The different types of plastic canvas cross stitch fabric (source: thesprucecrafts.com)
The different types of plastic canvas cross stitch fabric (source: thesprucecrafts.com)

Needlepoint Plastic Canvas

Needlepoint Plastic Canvas - stiff (source: marymaxim.com)
Needlepoint Plastic Canvas – stiff (source: marymaxim.com)

The most common type of plastic canvas people see has small squares in it, similar to the above image, and mostly comes in 5, 7 and 10 count. I say mostly, as the most common producer, Darice, ONLY produces those sizes. The reason is that needle point yarn can’t go any lower than 10 or 12 count. But when fake canvas makers come in, they copy this style, and make it 14 count.
 
In itself, this isn’t massively problematic, however due to the shape of the cut-outs, your cross stitch will have holes in it where the stitches don’t fully meet. Instead, you should be looking for actual cross stitch plastic canvas, which is slightly different.
 

Cross Stitch Plastic Canvas

Cross Stitch Plastic Canvas - ultra stiff (source: marymaxim.com)
Cross Stitch Plastic Canvas – ultra stiff (source: marymaxim.com)

Cross stitch plastic canvas has one main difference; circular holes. It emulates aida and looks a lot like perforated card, and comes in loads of stiffnesses. This is the stuff that you should be cross stitching with as it makes sure your cross stitches lie in the correct way, filling the whole space without letting massive areas be uncovered. It also has shaped holes meaning your thread won’t catch, the count is actually 14 count, and unlike any fakes, comes in a variety of colors.
 

Perforated Plastic Canvas

Perforated Plastic Canvas (source: grainger.com)
Perforated Plastic Canvas (source: grainger.com)

If you want to get really fancy with your plastic canvas, you can also look into perforated plastic canvas. It works in exactly the same way as perforated card, however the varied types of plastic mean not only can you get a massive variance of stiffness, but you can also get custom shapes made. We’re not just talking about cirles here either, you can get a series of weird and wonderful shapes like purses and wallets.
 

Plastic Aida Canvas

14 count plastic aida (source: aliexpress.com)
14 count plastic aida (source: aliexpress.com)

There is also another type of plastic canvas. I mention this as its essentially aida, and sometimes sold as that, but NEVER use it as plastic canvas. Not only does it look like fabric, but acts like it too. if you want a waterproof aida, you can use it, but it won’t hold a shape and won’t work in any 3D projects.

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