By Jennie Wolter, Calgary, AB 

As a canvas embroiderer I find that I have collected small pieces of canvas, surplus thread from completed kits, seminar projects or my own impromptu ornament designs whenever I complete a project.  Over the years I have developed a love for stitching with the variety of thread textures that are available and after completing my projects I end up with a lot of “leftover” bits.  I also collect old pieces of jewelry and use them to enhance my stitching. 

Just like me, I am sure that many of you also have a collection of needlework supplies that are too small for a particular project but would like to bring them to life and not leave them in a box.  I have discovered a project that you too can do with your odds and ends pieces of canvas and surplus embroidery and at the same time incorporate your single earring that does not have a mate, old favorite costume jewelry that may appear out of date or interesting finds at a garage sale or perhaps from your local second hand store.  This collection of canvas, thread and jewelry can be Reduced, Recycled and Reused. 

If you attended The EAC Seminar 2015 in Calgary, you would have received a hand stitched pin, each one was unique in colors and stitches.  The pins used up a large stash of canvas and thread leftovers (Recycle).  The only thing that I purchased was pin backs to complete the pins.  I made over 250 pins, gave each Seminar registrant a pin during the AGM (Reuse) and any remaining pins will be gifted to friends for Christmas. 


The photo below shows some of the supplies that were used for the unique 3R ornament (Reduce and Recycle, Reuse).  The options are endless as you could make a brooch, necklace, bookmark, etc. 

supplies used to make ornaments using old jewelry

The pieces of canvas are 18 count and many are pretty small (e.g., 1” x 6” {2.54 cm X 15.24 cm}).  Choose a piece of canvas that is 2 ” (5.08 cm) or wider and maybe 2 ” (5.08 cm) long or longer for the front of your ornament.  The size of canvas will depend on the piece of jewelry you plan to attach.  For a 1” x 1” (2.54 cm x 2.54 cm) piece of jewelry, you will need a piece of canvas approximately 2.5” x 2.5” (6.35 cm x 6.35 cm) or larger.   For the back, I selected two small pieces of canvas to match the size of the front piece that I fused together.  This is a good example of Reuse. 

NOTE: All of the stitching is done in your hand – no stretcher bars are required.  Keep your tension tight but NOT too tight. 

If you are going to use an old piece of jewelry be sure to remove the backing or hardware from the earrings or pins.  It is best if you choose a piece of jewelry with lots of open space as this will help secure the jewelry to the canvas.  If you have a solid piece of jewelry, you may need to secure it to the canvas in a different fashion, such as with a suitable glue to a piece of fabric that is larger than the jewelry piece so you can anchor the fabric to the canvas and surround it with stitches. 

Use small stabbing stitches to secure the jewelry piece minus hardware to your canvas front. 

This picture shows these securing stitches on the back as well as on the front of this heart piece of jewelry.   

Then select threads that complement your jewelry.  For this old earring with pearls, I selected an off white pearl 5 weight silk for my stitching.   

With the heart shaped pin, I selected a variegated pink floss using three plies on that ornament.  A larger piece of canvas was used for both the front and back. 

ornament with jewelry containing rhinestones 
ornament with petite point jewelry 

Select “simple” stitches to use so as not to overpower the jewelry.  Stitch around the jewelry. 

ornament with jewelry containing rhinestones
ornament with petite point jewelry 
Then continue adding stitches leaving as least six (6) threads of canvas around the whole piece.  These remaining six threads will be used to add a pieced backing to cover your stitches, so no need to worry how messy your stitched back looks.    

If you are not comfortable laying three plies of floss carefully, use a pearl 5 weight instead.  This heart ornament used three ply of floss and they were carefully laid during stitching.  The ornament with the petite point jewelry had two ply of thread laid carefully as well.  If you do not lay your threads smoothly, the overall effect is not as pleasing. 

As I indicated if you have smaller canvas pieces, carefully lay out the pieces lining up the canvas threads and fuse a small piece of fusible interfacing to one side (this will be the back of the backing canvas piece).   

You will back your ornament with a solid piece of canvas same or similar size as the front or use a joined piece (Great way to use up those smaller pieces - Reuse).  Match up the holes of the front and back canvas pieces.   

Line up both pieces of canvas so the holes match.  Using a satin stitch, stitch through the front and back pieces of canvas.  Make sure your ornament hanging is inserted at the top of your ornament.  If you forget to include the hanger as you stitch front to back, add it later. 
Completed stitching around jewelry with simple hanger - front
Completed stitching around jewelry with simple hanger - back
Satin stitch securing completed stitching to two pieces of canvas joined together – Front
Satin stitch securing completed stitching to two pieces of canvas joined together - Back 

What a great way to gift a family member or friend with a unique ornament for Christmas this year or any other occasion! 

A selection of ornaments is included below.  Enjoy and make many for your family and friends.   

Photo of completed ornaments 
 Share pictures of your completed pieces with EAC 


  1. These are all lovely. I love the idea of using old jewelry to enhance a piece.

  2. WOW Jennie. These are gorgeous!! Just blew me away!!

  3. Wonderful project Jennie - thank you for sharing! Can't wait to give it a try!

  4. What a great idea to use canvas and fibre scraps, And, some of the glittery jewelry I can't seem to pass up! Thank you for sharing this great idea.


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The Embroiderers' Association of Canada (EAC) is a national non-profit educational organization whose purpose is to have a fellowship of persons who enjoy needlework and wish to learn and share their knowledge; and thereby to work towards maintaining higher standards of design, colour and workmanship.

Our aim is to preserve traditional techniques and promote new challenges in the Art of Embroidery through education and networking.

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