Introduction: Achievement Patch With Plastic Canvas

About: The Maker Studio is a museum makerspace at Science City in Kansas City, MO. To see more of our creations follow us on Instagram @The_Maker_Studio or @ScienceCityKC

Sometimes it's good to celebrate yourself and your achievements!

Patches have been used to signify knowledge learned from institutions like for military to show certain ranks, all the way down to Boy and Girl Scouts to show that you have learned something successfully.

Even if you aren't a part of any of these groups patches are always fun to add to your collection as badge of honor for what you have achieved.

If you are a beginner at sewing and learning your stitches plastic canvas is a great way to learn how it works on a much larger scale. This project doesn't cost a lot to start and the possibilities are endless.



  • Plastic canvas
  • Yarn x 2 colors or more
  • Large needle with a hole large enough to thread your yarn onto.
  • Planned out pattern (You can start with our example of a vial pouring liquid, but you can plan out your own to show off something you've learned recently.)


  • Permanent marker (This is easiest to mark the canvas so you don't remove sections you wanted to keep by accident.)
  • Scissors
  • Flush cutters (optional) - This makes cutting your canvas down to size much easier and you will get a smoother edge when you cut off the nubs.

Step 1: Prepare Plastic Canvas

We started with a small sheet in our example, but you can buy huge sheets like the one in the background on the first image.

We are making our patches 13x13 so we've marked out center squares so we can get 4 patches from this one small sheet. (This might not be how your plastic is measured so plan accordingly if you plan to make yours 13x13 as well if you want to follow our example pattern to start with.)

Using your flush cutters or scissors you can snip away the sections you don't want. On our patch we are removing the whole center roll of tiny squares to then have 4 separate 13x13 squares.

We liked the rounded corner so we have removed the edges taking away a three small squares from the corners as shown in the last two images.

Now that your canvas is prepped you can move on to doing the fun part, threading your needle.

Step 2: Threading Yarn, Stitches & Tips

Yarn is often too thick to use on plastic canvas without threading it through a needle first.

Threading yarn is tricky so try to get a needle with the largest hole you can find that will still pass through your canvas.

It can be nearly impossible to thread yarn the way you do with normal thread. We've made a small gif of how we did it for this project.

  1. Holding your thread tightly between your thumb and index finger compress it.
  2. With your needle rock it back and forth over the thread slowly dragging it down between your fingers. This motion helps force the yarn into the hole because it has nowhere else to go.
  3. Don't worry if you didn't get it on the first try or if you have frayed thread on your first tries. Using your scissors you can snip off a little more then try again until you get the hang of it.

Optional Solutions: If you do not have a way of getting a needle that has a larger hole you could try using glue or nail polish. Put a little dab on a piece of paper. Then place the end of your yarn in it and using your finger twist it back and forth like you are creating a snake with clay. Once it's thinner and fully coated on the end it should become more rigid when it's dried. You will probably get a good ways through your project like this before needing to try doing it again.

Yarn stitches can often be exactly the same as when you do it traditionally on fabric canvas. The principles are the same but with plastic canvas you are more confined to follow the grid that is laid out for you vs fabric were you can break the rules more if you want to.

A great resource for seeing what kind of stitches are possible was created by Fave Crafts - Plastic Canvas Stitches.

For this project we are using the Continental Stitch, Cross Stitch, Slanted Gobelin Stitch, and the Overcast Stitch.

If you've never worked with any of these materials before using some scrap yarn and canvas to practice the different possible stitches would be worth the extra time. It's a great entry level project to help you find what you prefer and how you want to challenge yourself.


  • Find colors you like. Using scrap to learn with is great, but you won't be as proud of your patch if you don't really like the colors.
  • Practice stitches before you move onto a patch.
  • Map out your designs before you start stitching. It's easy to miscount your stitches when you are doing it in the moment.

Step 3: White for Glass Beaker

We'll be using the example design on the PDF that you can download and use.

It's easiest to start with the center of your design so that you can count out the placement without the holes being covered. With this in mind we will be starting with the white outline of the beaker first.

Using your marker you can easily mark what rows make up your center design. This helps so you don't get started a few lines above or below where you thought you were going to. For our example we counted it out and began.

How to get started:

  1. Pick a side of where you plan to begin your center design. A top corner is often easiest rather than a long middle section. We started at a top corner of the beaker mouth to begin our stitches.
  2. Pulling your yarn up from the back of your canvas sheet leave approx 1-2 inches of extra on the back. This extra helps make sure you don't pull it through when you begin your stitching and have to start over again. For every new piece of yarn you add you will want to leave this extra length on the back. Feel free to stitch of it which can help secure it in place.
  3. Using the Cross Stitch we make X's between a set of 4 squares as shown in the example link. Counting across and down we continue the stitches until we finish the beaker shape. (Refer to the gifs on this step to see more of the process.)
  4. To finish the white keep the yarn on the backside on your last stitch and then push the needle under several of the stitches on the backside to help secure it. Cut off any access once you've done this step.

Step 4: Green for Substance

For our green substance that is pouring out of the beaker we are doing a basic continental stitch which helps show a difference in texture between the green "liquid" and the outline shape of the beaker.

How to get started:

  1. Thread your canvas as you did with the beaker and leave approx 1-2 inches on the backside of your canvas.These back threads you can stitch over to help secure them on the back. It's as if you are doing the opposite of your last step when you threaded your white yarn into the design on the back of the patch.
  2. Start making diagonal stitches in rows across the length of the beaker in a pattern that makes sense to you. This step can be done several different ways starting in many different spots. If you are right handed or left handed you might make decisions that make more sense to you.
  3. When you have made your final stitch keep your yarn on the backside, and pull it through several of the stitches you just made just like you did with the white yarn.

Step 5: Purple Background

The background is always very important for a patch. If you use solid colors it can really help make the middle design stand out. If you make it busy with several color changes you might get lost on what you should look at. For this design we've kept it to a single color background.

How to get started:

  1. We have continued the Continental Stitch for the main background, but if you wanting to expand your knowledge you might try the Slanted Gobelin Stitch. It's a variation of the continental and can be used to quickly fill in sections with long stitches that stretch across many holes. We have done this on the inside of the beaker to fill in the area that implies the beaker is made of glass.With the contrast in the type of stitch used it's easier to tell it's not just the same as the background. Texture is something to consider when planning your design.
  2. Running your stitches in rows or columns can help keep you on track and not miss a section, especially when filling in large areas.
  3. When you are finished with your background thread, thread it through your stitches on the backside like you did for the other steps.

Now it's time to finish the border and you'll be done.

Step 6: Yellow Border & Finishing

For our border we went with a complementary color to the purple background.

What is a complementary color?

Complementary colors are pairs of colors that when mixed cancel each other out by producing a grayscale color like white or black.

When we place them next to each other they create a strong contrast between those two colors. Some people might also call them opposite colors.

The color wheel image you see is under public domain from 1908 by J. A. H. Hatt.

How to get started:

  1. The border is a simple Overcast Stitch, it's a very simple stitch the just covers the edge of your design. It will feel like you are just wrapping the edge of the canvas with your yarn.
  2. You will bring the yarn up from the bottom leaving an inches or two access like all the other colors. You will want to stitch over it as well to secure it as you continue with the rest of your stitches.
  3. If you are doing curved corners be sure to make decisions on where you stitches will go. Corners will need more stitches that cover both the left and right side of a square. Check all of the photos and gifs to see a closer view of what's happening when you get to the rounded corners.

Step 7: What Else Have You Achieved?

Each year is an accomplishment. Reflecting on the things you've learned is always a great tool to see how far you've come.

When trying to make your own design pick from your favorite subjects in school, your hobbies, your favorite colors, and other skills you've been getting better at.

If you curious the examples in the our group photo starting from the top left are a skillet for cooking, a star for success, a beaker for science, a paper airplane for flight science, a rocket, and then a spool of thread for sewing.

Don't forget your designs can also be silly like our burger design in the last image. That one is also an excellent example of changing up your textures to finding what works for your design.