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Reverse Canvas Tutorial DIY

Canvas Sign

Have you seen all the rage that’s going around with the reverse canvas? I’m going to show you how to make a reverse canvas farmhouse sign using an upcycled canvas print. This is sort of a play on the farmhouse wood signs that have been around for many years. I make both the wood signs and canvas signs. The canvas signs are way easier to make.


New at vinyl projects? Scroll down to the end of this post for a list of affordable products to get started.


I will be using one of the canvas prints from a set I bought a couple of years ago. I bought it online. The colors were nothing like they looked like on the website. I got such a good deal on it that it wasn’t worth it to pay for shipping it back to the company. Yes, I have had the set on display since I decided not to send them back. I couldn’t let it go to waste, right? Well, let’s get on with it, shall we?


Note: I used a Silhouette Cameo and a heat press to make the sign. You can use an iron if you don’t have a heat press. You can buy designs on Etsy if you don’t own a Silhouette or Cricut.


What kind of Canvas Did I use?

As I said before I used a canvas print that I had on hand. The difference between mine and what you will probably find in stores is that the frames of mine are particle board. There are a few cons to using the canvas with a particle board frame. This is the first one of those prints that I have used so far. I can’t wait to come up with designs for each size!


How to make reverse canvas from upcycled canvas prints


Note: This tutorial is based on you having a basic knowledge of how to use your cutting machine. I will not be going over the process of how to cut your design. 


Find Your Canvas

Decide what canvas you want to use. I used an 8 x 8′ canvas print from the set I bought. You can buy new if you don’t have one to upcycle. That is perfectly fine. I looked on Amazon for the 8 x 8 canvas with a wood frame for a good price. Unfortunately, they didn’t have anything. I checked on Michael’s website and they have them. You can use whatever size you want. The process is the same. I have noticed that as the sizes got bigger there is support in the center. Take this into consideration because there is a chance that the bigger size canvas could twist or warp. The biggest size signs I have made so far has been 16 x 20 inches. The great thing about Michael’s selling them is that you can use a coupon. 


How to make reverse canvas farmhouse sign

Deconstruction Notes

What you are going to do next is pull out the staples to get the canvas off of the frame. Make sure to pull the cardboard off of the hanger if your upcycled canvas has one. These canvas prints that I bought were so cheap that I didn’t even think about there actually being a hanger under it. Lol! I want to say that you can leave the staples in the frame. I like to take them all out because you are going to have to staple the canvas back onto the frame. It’s a preference. I’m always afraid that I’m going to forget to leave a place without staples to put the hanger back into the frame.


How to make sign using upcycled canvas


How to make a reverse canvas sign with upcycled canvas

Deconstruct the Canvas

You will need a screwdriver for this part. Remove the hanger and save it for later. Take the screwdriver and try to get the screwdriver under the staple. Try to pry it up by wiggling the screwdriver while digging up under the screw. You may come across a stubborn staple. If you do, just leave it. I cut the canvas in a few places and pulled it up under some of the staples. They popped right out. 


Reverse canvas tutorial


reverse canvas



It’s time to choose what finish you want the frame to be. You can paint, stain or leave it natural. I chose to paint mine white with gloss acrylic paint. Paint all sides except for the back of the frame. That part will be covered with the canvas. Paint one light coat. Let it dry completely. Add another coat if it needs it. 


DIY Reverse Canvas


If you are upcycling an old canvas print, decide if it needs to be painted. This is where you will be adding the vinyl phrase decal. I painted mine because it was off white. It was very noticeable next to the white frame. I diluted the paint with water to create a thinner consistency. It was the consistency of ink to paint the canvas. I used a piece of an old white t-shirt to wipe the paint onto the canvas. Allow drying completely.


Word of Caution

Try not to add too much paint to your canvas. We will be using a heat press, or an iron (either is fine) to adhere the heat transfer vinyl to the canvas. If you use too much paint there is a chance the heat transfer vinyl will not stick to it. 


Design, Cut & Press


Design the graphics you want to add to your sign and cut them out of the heat transfer vinyl. Set the heat press to 305°. You can use an iron for this but it will take a little longer. Place the canvas onto the heat press then put the Teflon sheet on top. Press the canvas for 10 seconds to heat it up and get it ready for the heat transfer design.


Step by Step Reverse Canvas Tutorial

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Figure out the placement on the canvas for your design. Place the Teflon sheet on top of your design and press it with the heat press in quick 10 second intervals until the design fully adheres. I flip the canvas back and forth in hopes to not discolor the paint. You want to be very careful not to melt your canvas. It’s dependent on what your canvas is made of. Mine was a cheaper grade of canvas. It seemed kind of like plastic. Don’t forget to peel the plastic carrier sheet from your design and give it another 10  seconds under the heat. 



Place the frame evenly over the canvas with the design centered on how you want it. Trace around the outer edge of the frame then cut off the excess canvas.


DIY Reverse Canvas with Phrase and Frame


Turn the frame onto the front side. Place the canvas on top. Staple the canvas to the frame with your staple gun adding a couple of staples to each side. Stretch slightly as you staple each side to avoid any wrinkles or droopy canvas. Don’t forget to leave room to add the hanger.


DIY Reverse Canvas Step by Step


If you are using a printed canvas you can cover it with a piece of Kraft paper to make the back of your sign look nice. Trace along the sign like you did with the canvas and cut it. Add glue to the perimeter of the backside of the sign. Place the Kraft paper and smooth it over, dry completely. Add the hanger to the back.


DIY Reverse Canvas Back


Reverse Canvas Step by Step


There you have it! I hope you have enjoyed learning how to make a reverse canvas farmhouse sign. How did yours turn out? I would love to see it! Come on over and share it to my Facebook page so everyone can see!


Would you like to make your own vinyl projects? Check out these basic supplies to get started.

Silhouette Cameo Supplies for Beginners


1 – Silhouette Cameo 3 Limited Edition Starter Bundle | 2 – Silhouette Tool Kit | 3 – Stretched Canvas | 4 – Cutting Mat | 5 – Heat Press | 6 – Siser Easyweed Heat Transfer Vinyl | 7 – Adhesive Vinyl | 8 – Teflon Sheet | 9 – Transfer Tape | 10 – Blanks for Vinyl Projects


If you enjoy making your own home decor, check out this tutorial for another affordable farmhouse idea!

Leslie from We're Bright At Home






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