We’ve been working with waxed canvas a lot lately.
Personally, I love the stuff. Since we live in a rainy climate, it’s a natural way to repel moisture without the ultra-sporty look of a fabric like nylon cordura. It has a beautifully aged look, almost like leather, and has great body for making things like bags and coats.
But there are a few things to be aware of when using this fabric at home.
- Expect imperfections. This is the main thing to be aware of when sewing (or buying) waxed canvas. The wax shows creases and scratches easily, but this is all part of the character of the fabric. It’s meant to develop the look of use.
- Use the right needle. This is true for any type of heavy fabric. If you think your machine is having trouble with layers of tick fabric, check to see if you might just need a bigger needle. A 100/16 or 110/18 is just about right.
- Use a press cloth. The waxes and oils can melt with the heat of your iron, so protect it with a press cloth.
- Use a clapper to press. Again, this is a good tip for any heavy fabric. A clapper allows you to apply pressure and steam for a longer period of time, letting you get crisp edges. If you’ve never used one, it’s really easy. Just apply steam with your iron, then quickly apply the clapper and use your body to apply lots of downward pressure as the fabric cools. The clapper traps steam in the fabric as you press.
- Clean your machine. This is my number one tip. Sewing with waxed canvas can result in gunky buildup in your machine, so it’s important that you give it a thorough cleaning after use. Follow our sewing machine maintenance tips for an idea on what to do when you’re done.
So that’s what we’ve learned. Anyone else have tips to add?
Oh, and for some ideas about where to buy waxed canvas and other heavy duty fabrics, don’t forget to read our post on bag making resources.