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Sewing With Canvas Fabrics

A beginners guide to sewing with canvas fabrics

This guide to sewing with canvas fabric is sponsored by Pound Fabrics, who sell canvas fabrics from just £2.75 per metre!

What is Canvas fabric?

Canvas is a heavyweight hard wearing fabric usually made from cotton but it can be made from linen or hemp too. It’s a tightly woven material with a thick thread, which makes it naturally water resistant. You can buy it coated in PVC to make it more waterproof.

What is canvas used for?

Personally, I love to use canvas fabric to sew bags. Bags are handled a lot and often placed on the floor so the durability and water resistance of canvas help prolong the life of the bag. Below is a shopping bag made with canvas fabric, find the tutorial here

It can also be used for making cushions for your outdoor furniture. Because of its tight weave canvas fabric has more structure to it than regular cotton so it works well for things which need to hold their shape, like fabric baskets, hats and bags. It can also be used for garments which need to be hard wearing such as trousers and jackets.

Traditionally it was used for sails and tents but these are now more often made with synthetic alternatives.

Shopping bag project
Shopping bag project made with canvas fabric

Tips for sewing with Canvas fabric

Canvas tends to soften after washing, so you may want to prewash your fabric before sewing with it.

Iron it on the hottest setting, you can also use steam or spray water on the fabric to make it easier to press.

It’s best to cut just a single layer at a time as its thickness makes it harder to cut through multiple layers.

It’s best to use either a jeans needle or a size 90 or 100 universal needle. If possible, put in a fresh needle so it’s nice and sharp.

Increase your stitch length to around 3-4mm and ideally use your walking foot.

Wonder clips are great to use with canvas, easier than getting pins through multiple layers of a thick fabric.

If you’re sewing with a thick canvas fabric you will need a heavy duty thread or upholstery thread. For regular canvas I use Gutermann Sew all and haven’t had any issues.

If you store canvas fabric by rolling it instead of folding it there will be less creases to remove before you start sewing.

Free canvas sewing projects
Projects to sew with canvas fabrics

Projects you could make with canvas fabrics

Shopping bag – We have a canvas shopping bag tutorial here.

Garden cushion – Canvas is the ideal fabric for this garden cushion project.

Laptop Backpack – Canvas fabric will make this backpack durable.

Handbag – This pretty handbag could be made with canvas instead of faux leather.

Messenger bag – Perfect for school, college or uni.

There’s a selection of 25 canvas sewing projects available on the Heather Handmade site.

Canvas materials UK
Canvas fabrics from Pound Fabrics