Learn how to make a reverse canvas sign with this simple tutorial! This fun method is a great way to easily create inexpensive framed art in no time. Just deconstruct a basic wrapped canvas and reuse its own frame. So easy!
How to Make a Reverse Canvas: Easy & Inexpensive Framed Art!
I first saw this method for making signs a few months ago via tutorials from Weekend Craft and A Girl and A Glue Gun. After seeing them, I definitely had a “Now why didn’t I think of that before??” moment.
Seriously. This method is SO straight-forward, painfully, obviously GENIUS that I can’t believe it’s just now a thing. This is a game changer for all of us who love making our own signs.
So, What is a Reverse Canvas?
With this process, you’re turning a basic wrapped canvas that you can find on the cheap at any craft store into a framed canvas sign or art piece.
Instead of having the canvas wrap around the front of the frame, you’re moving it to the back and showcasing the frame too rather than having it hidden behind the canvas. You’re reversing the placement of the canvas. Get it??
All you have to do is:
- Remove the canvas from the frame
- Paint/stain the frame
- Add design element(s) to the canvas
- Reattach the canvas to the back of the frame
Here’s what it takes to make a reverse canvas:
Step 1: Remove the Canvas from the Frame
The first step in this process is removing the wrapped canvas from its frame.
Here’s what you’ll end up with: the canvas sheet and the bare frame.
The remaining strips of canvas that are still stapled to the back of the frame can easily be pulled out and discarded, but don’t worry about removing the staples. Since you’ll be reattaching the canvas in a bit, they’ll end up being covered.
Also, at this point, you can trim the canvas to size if you’d like, or do it later once you’re ready to reattach it. I did this part later after applying my design so I was certain my design would be centered.
Step 2: Prep the Frame
Now you can move on to the frame. I had NO idea such a cute little thing was hiding in plain sight all this time!
The wood is bare, so you can stain it or paint it any color under the sun.
FYI: Since these canvases are inexpensive and their frames are hidden, the wood is not exactly…shall we say…top quality. However, it’s still good enough to make a fun little project. Don’t worry if you need to do a little sanding first to smooth everything out.
Step 3: Apply Design Elements to Canvas
While the canvas is off of the frame, you can go ahead and apply your design element(s). This step can also be done AFTER your canvas has been reattached…whatever you prefer.
For this particular project, I applied a heat transfer vinyl (HTV) decal, so I wanted to add it to the canvas before reattaching it to the frame. That way I had free range of movement for my iron without the frame getting in the way. (If you’d like to see how to use HTV, check out one of these tutorials!)
***NOTE: Make sure you size your design so it fits INSIDE the frame. My wrapped canvas started as a 9×12, but the dimensions for inside the frame are 7×10.
Here’s how my components looked:
Step 4: Reattach the Canvas to the Frame
Once the frame is dry, you can reattach the canvas to the back.
I first centered my design in the middle, then used some thumb tacks to temporarily hold it in place. I also trimmed off the edges of the canvas so nothing would be visible outside of the frame (and as you can see, I struggle with cutting a straight line…).
Depending on your project, you might be finished now! Hooray!
I, however, had one more step to do.
Here’s how it looks: not too pretty, but hey, that’s why it’s the back!
If you’re feeling extra frisky or giving your creation away as a gift (or selling it), you could always cover the entire backside with a piece of felt or fabric. That way, both sides of the sign are equally presentable.
Since this sign is going to have a home on a shelf in my craft room, I left this as is. No shame in my game!
Optional Step: Apply Additional Design Elements if Needed
With this particular flower truck sign, I had some 3D paper flowers to apply. Therefore, this step needed to be done AFTER the canvas was reattached to the frame so the flowers wouldn’t get crushed. I also added a small pink vinyl decal too.
Depending on your project, you may or may not need to add any additional elements here (or maybe even your only design component) and can of course skip this part if needed.
And with this step now completed…we’re finished! Woot Woot!
The Finished Reverse Canvas Sign!
Here’s how my first reverse canvas sign turned out! Super cute, no? This flower truck beauty is just the brightest, most cheerful sign and it looks absolutely adorable in my craft room.
I had SO much fun with this project and I can’t believe how easy this whole reverse canvas method is. Much easier than any wood sign I’ve made.
I’ll definitely be making a bunch more of these in the future!
Quite the transformation, huh?
- Using a utility or X-Acto knife, remove the wrapped canvas from the back of the frame.
- Prep the frame with sandpaper (if necessary) and paint or stain. Let dry.
- Apply the design elements to the canvas sheet.
- Trim the canvas sheet and reattach it to the back of the frame using either a hot glue gun or staple gun.
- Optional step: Attach any additional design elements.
- Make sure you size your design so it fits INSIDE the frame.
- You can also apply a sheet of felt to the back to give it a clean, finished look.
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