DIY Embroidery on Canvas with Jesse's House

Julie Ann McKevitt and I taught an embroidery on canvas class at Jesse's House a few weeks ago. I enjoyed working with Paint Love and the girls at Jesse’s House so much, I thought I’d work on a little DIY for you! Go ahead and break out an old canvas painting. You could use one you made or embellish one from a thrift store. Gather up your materials and let's get started on six simple stitches perfect for beginners. 

Gather Up Your Materials

  • Embroidery needle
  • Scissors
  • Thread 
  • Yarn
  • Washi Tape 

Running Stitch

The running stitch is one of my favorites for traveling across the canvas. I love using it to accent the movement of brush strokes or to draw attention to a central point. Come in through the back and pick a point to go back in and continue on your way.

Back Stitch

The back stitch is great for creating a solid line. I like using this for outlines or text. In this stitch, you come up from the back and out just like a running stitch, but then retrace your steps going back. Bring needle up at 1 and back down at 2. Move left and bring needle up at 3, then back down at 1.

Cross Stitch

Cross stitch - my childhood hero. While this is a little more difficult to do on canvas verses an open weave fabric. I find it just as fun. I even enjoy the slightly misshapen crosses. They bring out such a beautiful organic quality. Stitching from left to right, bring needle up at 1, down at 2, then up at 3 and down at 4. Continue stitching across to end of line. Start back stitching from right to left, make crosses by bringing the needle up at 7 and down at 4.


Couching is the absolute coolest embroidery stitch to me. I use a bit of washi tape to secure the foundation thread as I stitch instead of stitching it in. If you wanted to do it more traditionally, Bring foundation thread onto the front and place along the design line. Bring the couching thread up under the foundation thread and make a tiny stitch over the thread. Continue making evenly spaced stitches over the foundation thread. To finish couching, bring the foundation thread onto the backside and secure it. Secure couching thread on backside.

Seed Stitch

Is there anything cuter than than a seed stitch? I love the way it mimics sprinkles. The seed stitch is great for filling spaces and background textures. This works just like a running stitch.

Satin Stitch

Satin stitch to me seemed like it should be way more complicated. I find the hardest part is keeping the tension just right. Not too tight, not too loose. Bring needle up at 1, down at 2, then back up right next to 1 and down right next to 2. Place stitches closely together to fill in your area. I like to pencil out my shape before stitching