Another Needlepoint Project – The Crazy Canvaswork Cushion

The Old Form

The Old Form

I very much enjoyed working the Stones of Venice footstool last year. It was really lovely to have something that I could pick up as a relief from the fine silk and metallic threads in the Hittite Amulet, and my various Thistle Threads courses. Furthermore, at this time of year, something I can enjoy in the evening without switching on my daylight lamp is a good choice for those days when I haven’t managed to stitch during the day but have been longing to.

Naturally, I’ve been casting around various family homes, looking for a destination for the canvaswork once completed. And I’ve found it – in her studio, my mother has an old form (a bench) which she remembers from her childhood home in Westmorland. It’s shabby and tired now, but giving it a good sand down and a fresh coat of paint will work wonders, and a long cushion will make it altogether more comfortable to sit on.

Welding Canvas

Welding Canvas

We’ve decided that this, too, will be a stash-buster, insofar as that is possible, so I’m going to have to weld my canvas together (bear with me!) and the inspiration for the canvaswork itself is to be Crazy Patchwork. I’ve been told to make it look Cheerful.

It is fairly simple, but a little time-consuming to “weld” canvas together. Create an overlap, lining the canvas up to match the holes, then stitch together by making several lines of whip stitching along the length of the join. Trim off any superfluous selvedges, and you should find you have a secure join that is almost unnoticeable once the decorative stitching is applied.

Design Outlines

Design Outlines

Since I am trying to use up a rather peculiar collection of wools, the leftovers of an assortment of projects that were never intended to live together, the theme of Crazy Patchwork seemed the most promising.

What it wasn’t, was Easy To Plan. You can see that in the top variation I ended up trying something very much more formal, a sort of paisley pattern layout. I like it, but not for the purpose of this particular cushion. It might work better for a piano stool or something in a similarly formal setting.

Then I tried a layout with straight edges, and was less than happy with it – there’s not enough sense of rhythm or flow in the design. The layout with wiggly lines works rather better, and I’ve settled on that, drawn it onto the canvas, and attached my canvas to a frame.

The form is nearly a metre and a half long, and about 20 centimetres wide. I’m now wondering whether I have a stash big enough for the task!


  1. Sue Jones says:

    Good luck with this new stool top. I know what you mean about wanting a bold, simple project as a contrast to fiddly fine work. I tend to make stitched boxes when I have that urge, you clearly have a yen to renovate furniture instead.

  2. Add oil, hun, add oil!!=)

  3. coral-seas says:

    This looks like it will be lots of fun and and opportunity to explore lots of different stitches. I shall look forward to seeing it develop.

  4. Jules says:

    Ooh. I always enjoy your renovation projects! Liking the concept…

  5. Cynthia says:

    I’m envisioning a “rocky” sort of color scheme, grays, browns, maybe with a bit of blue thrown in, as your design looks like flagstones to me. Will you pick colors next?

  6. Kelly says:

    I am excited to see your progress on this! I do like the look of the final layout!

  7. Carolyn says:

    Good luck with this project. I have a feeling it is going to develop a life of it’s own.

  8. What a super project – will you work stitches over the “joins”, the way they are done on patchwork crazy quilts? And like crazy quilts you can use all sorts of threads, definitely a good stash buster. (I have to admit to having a box full of silk scraps, which one day will become a crazy quilt!)

  9. karen says:

    meticulous planning! and well done for using your canvas left overs, we should all do more of thta I think.

  10. karen says:

    THAT….I can spell honest!

  11. Lady Fi says:

    Can’t wait to see how this is going to turn out. I love all things crazy!

  12. Andy LW says:

    This is no small project, Rachel, but nevertheless exciting. Can’t wait to see the colours. I LOVE all things crazy. Crazy patchwork is my all time favourite. Good luck and enjoy.

  13. Terrie says:

    I’m curious of the transformation. Great idea for the upcycle of something memorable. Keep my eyes on I must.

  14. Janice says:

    Oooh, I am very late this week. Must have missed this post.
    We had a ‘form’ when I was young, that we used to get out for birthday parties. I’ve never heard the word used by anyone else, at any time since!
    This will certainly give a new lease of life to your mum’s old form – ‘upcycling’ is the word used these days’. And it will be good for you to have something larger scale to work on. And easy too, now that you have a design you’re happy with.
    Hope it’s going well.

  15. The third design reminds me of an actual pavement I made with my parents, in their garden when I was growing up 🙂 And a bit of a departure from your usual style, I think; it’s certainly a contrast to the formal lines of the Stones of Venice piece. Looking forwards to seeing what colours you end up with in there.