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DIY Reverse Canvas


Maybe you have heard about the reverse canvas craze, maybe you haven’t. I am one of those people who LOVE them! It’s a simple beginners craft, but still fun for someone who likes more advanced projects. The best part about them is that you can create anything you want and you have so many size options to choose from. For this post, I am keeping it simple with one canvas. But if you decide to try it out, be creative! Incorporate a few canvases together to create one piece.

So, what exactly is a reverse canvas?

They are exactly what you think when you hear the name…a canvas, in reverse.


Flat-head screwdriver (Or a pocket knife)
Tape Measure
Paint or Heat Transfer Vinyl
Brushes for Paint
Iron or heat press for Heat Transfer Vinyl
Glue gun
Hanger (Optional)

A little tip for buying your canvas – buying in bulk will save you a LOT of money. I typically buy mine at Michael’s and I buy a large pack, plus use a coupon. These make great gifts so you will likely go through them at some point!

As you can see for this project, I am using an 11 x 14 canvas.

If you look at the picture below, this is what you want the back of the canvas to look like. There are different types and you want to make sure you get the ones that are stapled onto the back, rather than on the sides. This is because when you take out the staples, you don’t want the holes and gouges to be visible 😉


You will need your screwdriver (or other tool) and the canvas. We are going to remove the staples in the back to detach the canvas from the wooden frame.

To do this, I typically just maneuver the screwdriver underneath each staple and wiggle it loose. Sometimes they come out nice and easy, and sometimes you have to pull them with pliers. If you have a hard time getting it started, don’t be afraid to dig into the wood a little, this is the back of the frame so it will not be noticeable!

And here is what it looks like once you’ve removed all of the staples!

Note that some canvas frames do NOT have staples in the front, this one does so I am able to remove all of the staples in the back. If your frame does not have them, you will need to leave the four corners in place on the back. You can tear the canvas  or cut it, you won’t be using the edges anyway.

If your frame does have staples in the front but you don’t want them there, you will need to secure it with staples in the back. But personally I love the look of the staples in the front!


Stain the frame! I go back and forth on stain colors that I like, but this one is Special Walnut – I love the contrast of the dark frame and the white canvas.

After letting it dry for awhile, I always put on a coat of poly – sometimes two!


Now comes the really creative part! What do you want to put on your canvas?

Keep in mind that the canvas WAS 11×14, but now it is less. So you will want to measure the inside of the frame to get the new measurement, which is about 11 3/4 x 8 3/4


You can really do anything you want here, but I’ll tell you the two mains ones that I do. I either paint it, or I design something and cut it out on heat transfer vinyl (HTV) and apply it to the canvas.

In this example, I did HTV. Here is the design I made on my software.

Now that I have my design finalized, I cut out my image and prepare to place it. If you are using HTV you want to make sure that you place the SHINY side DOWN and mirror cut the image. So if you look at my image below, you will see that it is backwards. That is because the shiny side is the transfer paper that holds the image together. You will flip it over, stick it down and heat press or iron the image onto the canvas.

I used a heat press for mine, and here is the finished canvas with the frame placed over the top.


I trace the outside of the frame onto the canvas so that I know where to cut. This is after I have centered my image in the frame.

When you cut, cut along the INSIDE of the line you just drew because you don’t want any of the canvas to be sticking out from the back.


Once the canvas is centered, cut and you are sure there are no pieces sticking off the sides, you can attach it to the frame.

To do this, I simply use a glue gun. I start on one side, being careful not to move the canvas out of place. Then I complete the remainder of the sides.

If you want to put a hanger on the back, this is time to do so! I didn’t put a hanger on this one because it is going to sit on a shelf.


Admire your work 🙂

I’d love to see your reverse canvas projects!

If you’d prefer to order a canvas from me, you can order it here by sending me a message.

You can also order just the HTV designs to iron down yourself if you do not have a way to cut them and prefer not to use paint. These can be customized to any saying, design and size that you want! Happy crafting!

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