Stretching a Needlepoint Canvas


After you finish the painstaking work of stitching your needlepoint masterpiece, the last step involves stretching the canvas to prepare it for framing. Because needlepoint canvas often stretches out of shape as you work on it, you must manipulate the canvas to return it back to its original shape before you frame your work. Stretching needlepoint canvas will ensure your stitching project looks attractive and beautiful inside the finished frame.

Things You'll Need

  • Carpenter’s square
  • Pencil
  • Clean plywood
  • Spray bottle (filled with water)
  • Thumbtacks
  • Draw a square or a rectangle onto the plywood using the carpenter’s square and the pencil. Make the outside perimeter of the shape two to three inches larger than the finished size of your needlepoint canvas.

  • Spray the back surface of the needlepoint fabric lightly with the spray bottle to moisten the canvas. Do not spray to the point of saturation.

  • Place your needlepoint canvas onto the plywood, matching up one corner with a corner you drew onto the plywood, Place a thumbtack in the corner approximately 1/2-inch away from the edge of the canvas.

  • Stretch the opposite corner of the needlepoint canvas toward the opposite corner you drew on the plywood. Your canvas will not reach this corner, but use the corner as a guide for shaping and stretching your canvas. After you make the canvas as taut as you desire, place a thumbtack in the corner to hold the canvas tight.

  • Pull the bottom right canvas corner over toward the right side line you drew on the plywood. The corner of the canvas will not reach the corner you drew, but it will reach the line you drew. Make sure the bottom edge of the canvas is level between the two bottom corners and place a thumbtack in the bottom right corner.

  • Repeat the last step with the upper left canvas corner, using the top pencil line on the plywood to make sure the canvas is straight. Insert a thumbtack into the upper canvas corner after you position the canvas properly.

  • Add thumbtacks around the entire perimeter of the needlepoint canvas, spacing them 1 to 2 inches apart.

  • Allow the canvas to dry completely on the plywood. After the canvas dries, remove the thumbtacks and prepare to frame it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Before you begin your needlepoint project, trace an outline of the canvas onto a large sheet of newsprint. Save this outline and use it as you stretch the needlepoint canvas to return the canvas to its original shape.

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  • Photo Credit spring needlepoint image by Stephen Orsillo from
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