How To Stretch a Canvas
Follow this simple step by step guide to stretch your own professional art canvas ready for priming!
Lay out your fabric and place your stretcher frame face up. Check that your stretcher is square by measuring the distance between each opposite corner, which should be equal.
Turn your stretcher frame face down onto the fabric in order to begin trimming your canvas. Allow a margin of canvas around the frame for stretching. For a large section stretcher we recommend a margin of 3 inches. For a small section stretcher bar we recommend 2 inches. We suggest making a template for cutting the canvas which can guide your knife and reduce error. Before trimming, it is important to make sure that the warp and the weft are perpendicular to the stretcher bar.
Before you begin to start stretching your canvas it is important to take into account the orientation of the painting you will be creating as this will affect the manner in which you fold the corners of your canvas. In our example we are creating a portrait canvas.
Place your stretcher, centrally on your canvas with both the stretcher and the canvas face down. Using a staple gun, staple the canvas once in the middle of each side of the frame.
Always begin by stretching the left and right sides of your canvas before the top and the bottom. Staple from the middle of the frame out into each corner, leaving approximately 3 inches between each staple.
Folding the corners can be one of the most fiddly stages in making the canvas however if done properly, it ensures that the canvas looks professional and will also sit as flush as possible to the wall. At your first corner, pull the excess fabric on the end of the stapled side to make it taught as shown in the image above.
Still maintaining the tension, pull the same area of fabric down and across the corner of the stretcher frame.
Staple the edge of the taught fabric.
Pull the excess fabric around the side of the frame.
Using both hands, pinch the fabric in to 2 triangles ready for folding.
Pull both corners back over the stretcher covering the originally stapled corner. Do not staple the corner again at this point. Repeat this process on the opposite end of the same unstapled side
Move to the middle of the unstapled side (now with the pre-folded corners) to work along back to the corners and staple as show in the image above.
Turn the canvas over to double check that the tension across the surfaces is even. Repeat stages 6 to 13 on your final side.