bbb craft sistersdiy projects

diy project: canvas calendar

by The BBB Craft Sisters

We love fall — changing leaves, farmers’ market apple cider, crisp morning air. One of the best things about the season are all the amazing 2011 calendars that start appearing in our favorite shops and from our favorite letterpress companies. We got inspired to make our own calendar this year to give as gifts to friends for the holidays, with the theme of eating seasonally. To get more use out of the calendar, we drew a dotted line to encourage people to cut off months once they have passed and keep the top halves for decoration or cooking ideas!

While we picked this theme for our calendars, you could go with any theme you like. We used an old painter’s cloth for the canvas and then iron-on transfers and hand-stitching to adorn them, but you could use paint, markers, iron-on photos — just about any medium to create your own style and theme. We will show you what we did, but we hope you take this project on and make it your own! — bbbcraft sisters

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


  • painter’s drop cloth or large piece of canvas, enough for thirteen 8.5 x 11″ sheets
  • fabric scissors
  • scissors
  • Sharpie, fabric pens or markers
  • iron-on transfer paper
  • grommets and grommet punch
  • twine or fabric tape
  • iron and ironing board
  • needle and thread in various colors


1. Cut thirteen 8.5 x 11″ sheets from your piece of canvas (one will serve as the calendar cover, if you plan on giving this as a gift, as we do!)

2. IRON the canvas! We learned this the hard way, and forgot to iron until we started stitching.

3. Punch grommets into the top two corners for hanging. If you don’t have a grommet punch, you could just as easily cut holes and weave twine through, or stitch ribbon on either side to create loops for hanging.

4. In the center of 12 of the pieces, use a straight edge and a Sharpie to make a dotted line. We drew scissors to encourage people to cut off the top half and reuse it at the end of each month.

5. Print out the 12 months on iron-on transfer paper. If you use this technique, be sure to flip the text before printing, so that when you iron it on, it is facing the correct direction. You can either use a setting on your printer or a graphics software program to flip text or an image. You can also just as easily write out the months by using a straight edge for spacing and straight lines.

6. Now have fun and decorate the months. We chose a different seasonal fruit or vegetable for each month and included some simple ideas for how to use them. You could print out photos on transfer paper and iron them on, create line drawings, print out full recipes, paint images or create your own stitched design. For our calendar, we used a combination of simple stitches for the fruits and vegetables and iron-ons.

7. On the thirteenth piece of canvas, create a cover page for the 2011 calendar using stamps, iron-ons, stitches or paint.

8. Attach all of the canvas sheets by pulling a ribbon through the holes or grommets and tie off. For a gift, roll up and tie off with twine.

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  • OH MY. I’ve been wanting to craft a 2011 calendar for my office and this is truly inspiring. Iron-ons? Now, why didn’t I think of that! Many thanks.

  • hi, i LOVE this.
    unfortunately, i have no time to make one… do you know if these can be purchased?

  • Gorgeous!! Are you willing to share a brand or source for the iron on transfer paper? Many leave a white background and have to be clipped, but you’ve obviously used one that transfers only the ink, applied in reverse. What did you use? Thanks for the beautiful idea!!

  • I love this idea! I’m thinking of some quick recipes to put on, or some great embroidered family things.

  • Another great technique to try, if you don’t like transfer paper (which i really DO NOT), is to use freezer paper. iron the freezer paper onto your fabric, and it makes it sturdy enough to run through your average desktop inkjet printer. it works GREAT! and no transfer residue!

  • This is such a great idea! The “Click here” link doesn’t work though. Super cute!

  • Hi Krista,

    We used HP Iron-on transfers for light-colored fabrics. It does actually transfer the background, but as long as you iron at a high heat for a long time, it ends up just being a clear layer, as opposed to white. We also try to cut around the text or image as close as possible, so to minimize the background transfer.

    Good luck!!
    –bbbcraft sisters

  • I love this idea, and I love giving unique calendars as gifts, so I’m definitely going to start making something like this for the holidays this year! Thanks so much for the great inspirations!

    One question: I don’t get how you change to a new month, do you just pull the whole page off the grommets? If you just cut the month off the bottom, you’ll still have the same picture on top all year. Or am I just being dense and missing something?

  • Beautiful! Wondering where you found the month graphics? So clean and simple. Perfect. Thanks for sharing this idea.

  • Adorable! I was also wondering if you could provide any of the images for the calendar and the month graphics. Thanks!

  • This is SO CUTE. I won’t ever make it because I’m a chronic project starter and not finisher. But seriously. Cute.

  • oooo! This is fantastic! i especially love how the cover looks when it’s rolled up to give as a gift! I am all about gift presentation! Great job!

  • So nice!

    I have a question about the canvas: What is the weight of it?
    I can buy 630g/m or 920g/m – but what is better to use? What was yours?

    Thanks for sharing this lovely gift and idea! I’d love to do it myself!

  • This is such a fabulous project and i really love the idea of emboidery along with your calender! Thanks so much for sharing! Have a lovely merry happy week and love to yoU!

  • @Lindsey: Your recommendation of using freezer paper and running the canvas through the printer saved my life (not to mention my wallet). My printed calendar turned out GREAT!

    If anyone wants/needs a calendar, I’ve got one setup that I can send you, just let me know!

    Next up? Embroidery! I found some fabulous vector images through Google that I traced onto each month.

  • what did you do about the edges of the fabric fraying? or do you like the look the fraying gives the finished piece? just wondering as i’m havinghte fraying problem.

  • love this idea..
    how do you make a calendar without any grid lines? I know I’m a bit clueless..but I made a calendar on “pages”, using a grid, but I like the clean look of a calendar w/out lines….
    I don’t have photoshop… can I do this??? :)

  • Hi Nikki,

    For this, we actually liked the rough, raw edge. But, there are a couple of options. If you have a sewing machine, you could do a zigzag stitch around the edges to prevent fraying.

    For a fabric that isn’t as thick as a painter’s drop cloth canvas, you could easily fold the edges over and sew a hem–by hand or machine–for a smooth edge.

    Finally, we would also play around with various glues to see if they could help with the fraying, or simply purchase some Fray Check.

    Hope that helps!

    –bbbcraft sisters

  • thanks for the great tutorial. Could you recommend a good
    iron-on paper? The one’s I ‘ve tried so far turn out really
    plastic… Thanks!

  • Another way you could prevent fraying is to cut the fabric with pinking shears (zigzag scissors) or, if you don’t want a zigzag edge and you have enough material, you could cut the fabric on the bias (so the fibers in the fabric are going diagonal). I know this is a bit late, but I hope this helps someone later on.