Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mounting the art quilt onto a stretched canvas

Almost all of my art quilts are mounted onto gallery canvas. I find that this gives the piece more "presence" when displayed. Without the canvas, small art quilts can look like placemats hung on the wall. Some of the group shows in which I participate insist on the use of gallery canvas, which is deeper than the standard canvas. For consistency,  I use this presentation almost without exception. Framing is expensive, so this method is cost-effective too. Any buyer of my work can easily add a floating frame if they wish.

Formerly, I used black gesso on the sides and front edges, but because it left scuff marks on the wall, I have switched to Carbon Black acrylic paint. It gives a nice matte finish. I suggest sticking to one brand so that repairs can be done invisibly, in the event of damage.

zigzag stitching around edge of quilt,
small margin of painted canvas showing when mounted

My standard size of canvas is 24" x 18", so I cut the art quilt to 23 5/8" x 17 5/8". This allows for a narrow edge of canvas to show around the quilt. I like to finish the edges of my Cityscapes with a short zigzag stitch in black thread.

When the quilt is completed, I cut a piece of inexpensive black felt to measure 23 1/2" x 17 1/2". Above, you can see the felt pinned onto the back of the art quilt. I hand stitch the felt to the back of the quilt, using a running stitch around the outer edge. I pick up just a few threads from the back of the quilt, effectively tacking it to the felt, without having the stitch go through to the front surface.

Because of my use of fusible web, my quilts are quite stiff, and it's enough to tack the quilt to the felt around the outside edge. If I am working in a larger size, I put some tacking stitches every few inches, attaching the central area of the quilt to the felt. In this way, the quilt will not balloon out from the canvas.

I then glue the felt layer to the canvas. If the canvas should ever become damaged, I would want to be able to salvage the quilt by "unstitching" it from the felt. Using that layer of felt gives me the option of removing the quilt from the canvas.

I use matte gel medium as the glue, bought by the gallon, placing several spoonfuls of the gel onto the canvas, and spreading a thin layer with a brush or credit card over the entire surface of the painted canvas, but leaving about 1/2 inch margin around the edge. Working quickly, I place the art quilt onto the canvas, ensuring that it is well centred and pressing it into place.

using the brayer

Then I flip over the canvas and put it face down onto a clean surface. I use a brayer and, working from the centre to the outer edges, roll it over the back of the canvas to ensure a good adhesion between the quilt and the canvas. I do a quick check to see that no excess glue has been squeezed out beyond the edge of the quilt, and then return it face down onto the clean surface. I put some books onto the back of the canvas to add a little pressure, helping the quilt to stick well to the canvas while the matte medium dries. This takes a couple of hours. (I've been leaving this step out lately because I found it "squishes" the surface of the quilt. Consider it optional.)

books for weight

The last step is to label the back of the canvas with the title and date of the piece, and my name. Hanging hardware is attached to the frame. Et voilĂ ! The art quilt is ready for its debut.

Camden Town,
Heather Dubreuil


  1. Really useful Heather. Thanks for that explanation.

  2. Heather, thanks for this great tutorial. This is one of the best and easiest tutorials I've seen for mounting quilted artwork to canvas.


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