Would you believe it cost me less than two dollars in materials to make this cute sign for my friend? These are perfect for holiday gifts, boss appreciation gifts, or even just cute décor for your home. I also made the one below as a thank you for my brother-in-law. These are easy to make, super customizable, and give the look of an expensive farmhouse sign without the price tag.
Here’s what you need to get started
Cricut or other vinyl cutting machine
Scotch Tape or Painter’s Tape
Small paintbrush or old rag
Scissors or portable trimmer
Dollar Store Stretched Canvas Sign
Black (Heat Transfer Vinyl) HTV
Wood stain in a color of your choice
*My staple gun was jammed but I was able to get around needing it. It just makes this project way easier. More details below.
To begin, you’ll want to find your canvas signs at the Dollar Tree. These can be somewhat hard to come by, but lately mine has been stocked up so I’m hoping yours is too! They have a couple different sizes, so I grabbed the 8” X 10” and a couple of the 4” X 6” for smaller signs that I want to make later.
Once I got them home, I used a stapler remover to take the staples out of the back of the frame. You can also try using an old fork to pry them out if you don’t have a stapler remover (be careful!). Pry all of the staples off and the canvas should come off of the wooden frame fairly easily.
You’ll be able to see the folds in the canvas where the canvas was stretched around the frame(pictured below). I used these marks to help me cut the canvas to fit the wood frame.
You’ll want to make sure you cut the canvas with enough room to staple it to the back of the frame while also not being able to see the canvas sticking out over the edges. You’ll want them to look something like this when they’re done…
Before You Staple
Before you get to stapling the resized canvas piece to the frame, you’ll want to paint or stain the frame the color you desire. To prep for that, you’ll want to start with sanding the wooden frame with 220 grit sandpaper so it is nice and smooth. This helps the finished product look a lot nicer. It shouldn’t take very long since these frames are pretty simple.
Next, I applied this Varathane Pre Stain Wood Conditioner. It keeps the stain from being blotchy, streaky, and uneven on your projects. If you want your stain to look good, you need this liquid gold. I use it on all of my projects. If you are going to paint your frames, you can skip this step.
All you do is apply is with a clean cloth or clean paintbrush(I used a paintbrush because I like it better) and let it sit for at least 30 minutes before staining.
Once dry, make sure you have a place to stain your frames without making a huge mess. A lot of times I’ll put down on a kitchen size trash bag and stain them on top of that in a well ventilated area. Wearing disposable gloves, grab your stain of choice and stain the frame. You can mix stain colors to get new fun colors if you aren’t completely happy with the color alone. I do this a lot with the Varathane Carbon Gray and the Varathane Walnut gel stains. I love the outcome of layering these two colors.
In the picture below, I used the Espresso Wood Stain from MinWax and Carbon Gray from Varathane. They’re both go on super evenly and are very easy to work with.
Let the frames dry according to the directions on the stain or paint. Once dry, I made sure the frames were clear of any dust that might have settled on it with a slightly damp cloth.
I really like to protect my projects to make sure they hold up well, so I would recommend spraying the frames with 2X Coverage Matte Clear General Purpose Spray . It is my all time favorite finishing product. I love that it keeps the project matte while also enhancing the color. It is available on Amazon or you can find it at Home Depot. I always keep some around in my garage because I use it a lot.
Ready to staple!
Now that your frame is completely dry, you’re ready to staple the canvas to the back of the frame!
To make this part as easy as can be, I took some Scotch Tape (or you can use painter’s tape) and taped the canvas in place on the frame so it didn’t move while I was stapling it. You will want to make sure to pull the canvas as tight as you can to make sure there isn’t any wrinkles or looseness on the canvas once stapled. Also, make sure there isn’t any canvas hanging off of the frame to ensure a clean look and get to stapling.
I did 3 staples on each of the short sides and 5 on the long sides.
If you’re not happy with a loose canvas on the frame, you can also pry the staples out and give it another go. I definitely have to do this sometimes!
They should end up looking something like this…
Add your design
At this point your reverse canvas frame is ready to be customized! I used my Cricut Machine to cut these music lyrics out of black Heat Transfer Vinyl. You can find other ready made cut files for music lyrics on my Etsy here!
Once you have your design cut and ready to iron on, you’ll want to have your iron preheated on the cotton setting. Place your frame on a surface that is safe to iron on. Center your design and apply heat using the iron with medium pressure. Do not shimmy the iron or circle it around the design because it will ruin your design!
I gently pick up my iron and move it before placing it back down for a couple seconds with some pressure. You also need to be careful not to leave the iron in one place on your design for too long. It will burn the canvas and that’s never fun… believe you me.
You should be able to see the fibers of the canvas meld into your HTV when the transfer sheet is ready to be peeled up.
***If you start to peel the sheet up(do so slowly!) and the design isn’t completely stuck on the canvas, don’t worry! You can simply place the sheet back down and iron again carefully as written above.
Woohoo! Now you’re done! These signs look great hung up on the wall or as a feature on your tired centerpiece tray. My favorite is putting them in easel displays like this one below!
Let’s see what you made! Comment below with your projects as I would love to see them. Or, feel free to ask any questions!