Introduction: Plastic Canvas Dishwasher Sign

Have you ever opened your dishwasher thinking the dishes were clean when they were actually dirty? Simply turn this magnetic plastic canvas sign 180 degrees whenever you start the dishwasher, and then no one in your house will ever make that mistake again.

Step 1: Gather Supplies

Materials Needed

  • 5 in by 5 in (12.7 cm by 12.7 cm) sheet of plastic canvas (found in the cross-stitch section of Walmart or any hobby store)
  • Four colors of yarn (the example has green, white, red, and black, but you can choose different colors)
  • Magnets with adhesive (or regular magnets and a glue gun)
  • Scissors
  • Plastic canvas needles, size 16 preferred

Step 2: Cut Out the Shape

  • Cut out an octagon shape from the plastic canvas sheet.
  • Make diagonal edges 10 holes wide and straight edges 13 holes wide.

Step 3: Cut the Yarn and Thread the Needle

  • Using the scissors, cut off a strand of yarn (black in the example) about three feet long for sewing the middle dividing line.
  • Thread the needle and tie a knot at one end of the thread of yarn. (See Tips for Beginners below on “How to Thread the Needle,” “How to Position Needle on Yarn,” and “How to Tie a Knot.”)


How to Thread the Needle

  • To thread the needle more easily, pinch the very end of the yarn (so you can’t even see it) between the tips of your thumb and index finger (see video).
  • Place the eye of the needle on your fingertips, directly above the unseen tip of yarn.
  • Roll the tips of your fingers outward, forcing the yarn up through the eye.

How to Position Needle on Yarn

  • After threading the needle, pull enough thread through the needle so that the needle is about one foot away from the free end of the string.
  • Tie a knot at the opposite end of the thread of yarn (the end that is farthest from where the needle is on the string).
  • As you stitch, occasionally slide the needle down on the string so that the free end of the yarn is always shorter than the fixed end. (Otherwise the fixed end will become as short as the free end, and the free end will start to get caught in the holes when you pull the needle through.)

How to Tie a Knot

  • Take the tip of the end of the yarn and tie a double knot.
  • Don’t pull the knot together too tightly or it might become so small that it doesn’t catch on the hole when you pull the yarn through.
  • If there is an excessively long “tail” of yarn from the knot to the end of the string, then you can trim that with scissors.

Step 4: Stitch Middle Line

  • Pull needle and yarn up through the “start” hole indicated by the arrow in the pattern. (To find the start hole, count six holes along one of the straight edges and then from there go towards the center of the shape by one more hole.) If your knot is big enough, it won’t be pulled through the hole but instead will anchor the string.
  • Create the stitches for the dividing line in the middle of the sign. In the pattern (see image in previous step), the dividing line is the thick strip, indicated by diagonal black stitches, located between the words “clean” and “dirty.” (See Tips for Beginners below on “How to do a Basic Stitch.”)
  • Keep stitching until the entire dividing line has been completed. (We will show you how to cover the outside edges of the plastic in a later step.)


How to do a Basic Stitch

  • Holding the plastic canvas sheet in front of you in one hand (facing you), hold the threaded needle behind the plastic canvas sheet with your other hand. Stick the needle up through the back side of the canvas through the desired hole. Grab the protruding needle from the front side and pull the needle and yarn all the way through.
  • In the next desired hole (the opposite end of the stitch as shown in the pattern), push the needle down from the front side of the canvas to the backside of the canvas, and pull all the way through.
  • Always keep stitches diagonal; that’s how you cover the plastic most effectively.

Step 5: How to Backtrack If You Mess Up

  • Go backwards by putting your needle back through the hole that you just came through.
  • Alternatively, take your needle off the yarn entirely, and use the tip of your needle to pick, pry, and pull out your recent stitches.

Step 6: Tie Off the Yarn

  • When you’ve finished your last stitch for your current color of yarn (or when your yarn is too short to continue), turn the plastic canvas sheet over, so you are looking at the reverse side.
  • Take the threaded needle and weave it through the back sides of several of your previous stitches. Pull the needle and yarn through these stitches.
  • With scissors, clip the yarn. (You don’t need to tie a knot.)

Step 7: Stitch Letters

  • Cut about three feet of yarn (white or gray yarn in the examples) to stitch the word “clean." Thread your needle and knot the yarn.
  • Following the pattern (see the “purple” stitches above), stitch each letter. You don’t need to tie off the yarn after each individual letter; when you end one letter, continue on by sticking your needle up through one of the holes for the top or the bottom of the next letter and continue stitching.
  • Tie off the string at the end of the whole word.
  • Turn pattern so "clean" is upside down and follow same steps for the word “dirty.”

Step 8: Stitch Around the Letters

  • Cut yarn to stitch a fill-in color around the words. (The example uses green yarn around "clean" and red around "dirty.") Thread your needle and tie a knot at the end, just as in other steps.
  • Stitch to cover the remaining open holes. To save time, you can use longer stitches here than the stitches used for the letters.
  • The exact placement of these stitches can vary as long as the stitches meet these three conditions:
    • Stitches are diagonal (so they cover the holes and the plastic).
    • Stitches are parallel to each other.
    • Stitches are end-to-end, meaning that the end of one stitch shares a hole with the beginning of another stitch.
  • Be careful not to cover stitches where the letters are. Skip around those.

Step 9: Cover the Edge

  • Cut yarn (black in the example), thread the needle, and knot your yarn to begin covering the edges of the sign.
  • Choose a hole on the outside edge (it doesn't matter which one), and pull your needle up through the hole.
  • Pull your needle up through the next consecutive hole and pull the yarn tight. (This is different from a regular stitch in that with each hole your needle only goes in one direction, up from back to front. The needle never goes back down again, from front to back.) The yarn will naturally wrap down and under to cover the plastic edge between the holes.
  • Repeat until the entire edge is covered. Tie off the end, cutting off any excess thread.

Step 10: Attach Magnet

  • When finished with stitching, turn the sign over (so the back is facing you), and adhere a magnet to the back side of the black dividing line that you previously stitched.
  • If using a glue gun, squeeze a thin line of glue down the middle of the sign and then immediately attach the magnet.

Step 11: Enjoy Your Sign!

  • Place completed sign on the dishwasher.
  • Put "dirty" side up when the dishes are dirty. Turn it to "clean" side up when the dishes are clean.