If you have always wanted to try out sewing of canvas, but you are a bit overwhelmed and not sure of how to go about it, then this article is for you.
Once upon a time, canvas used to be specially reserved for sails and other utility purposes, but today you can use it for various applications, ranging from home décor to fashion accessories.
We would be giving out a few tweaks and tips to get you started on making canvas bags and much more using this versatile fabric.
Since you would be working with a very thick material, most sewists feel unsure of themselves even before starting. You might ask questions like;
“What kind of machine do I need to use?”
“Can my basic sewing machine handle this?”
“Would I be required to change my pattern if I am working on a canvas pillow or market tote?”
Relax, and keep reading.
At the end of this article, you should know everything you need to, and your next canvas project will be easy-peasy. In addition, if you are unfamiliar with how to sew using thick fabrics, this article would help you too.
- How to Sew Canvas with a Sewing Machine
- How to Sew Canvas By Hand
- How to Sew With Cotton Canvas
- Bonus Tip – How to Store Your Canvas
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- 1. Can I Sew Canvas On A Regular Sewing Machine?
- 2. What Thread Should I Use To Sew Canvas?
- 3. What Needle Should I Use For Canvas?
How to Sew Canvas with a Sewing Machine
Canvas can be likened to leather, and you should use clips and double stick tape to hold it in place, as opposed to regular sewing pins. When you are handling thick fabrics like canvas, it’s going to be quite difficult to push through the standard sewing pins through it, so you may want to consider using quilting clips or binder clips, as this would be a lot easier for you.
While sewing canvas, you need to understand that it is a tightly woven cotton fabric, and to sew on it effectively, you would need a strong and durable needle. We recommend you using a “jean needle” to avoid breakage while sewing. If along the line, you decide to add on decorative stitching to your project, then you would need a topstitch needle and thread to achieve a finely, professional finish.
When you are working with a canvas, you should always use a heavy-duty thread –size 40 – to ensure that it is held securely together. You can use an upholstery thread because it has to be more durable and heavier. Also, you may have to adjust the upper tension of your sewing machine, because you would be making use of a heavy-duty thread.
Because canvas is a thick fabric, it would be best if you extend your stitch length to 3.5, so your sewing machine can sew through multiple layers seamlessly, and this would make it less frustrating for you.
Before you start sewing, you need to test run and adjust your sewing machine settings accordingly. But if you notice that your sewing machine is still finding it challenging to sew through multiple layers easily, then switch to your walking foot. Substituting the presser foot for a walking foot is recommended because the walking foot contains an additional set of feed dogs, which will help your machine sew thick fabrics.
Just like with any other project, it is a good practice to test run your sewing machine with a scrap piece of fabric before starting. You might experience a bit of difficulty because you are using heavy-duty thread, but try adjusting the bobbin tension of your sewing machine. If that doesn’t work, you may need to use a regular thread or try getting a unique bobbin case.
After you have completed your canvas project and you need to iron, spray the fabric lightly with water. Set the iron to the highest level and press it to the fabric. Because canvas is such a thick fabric, it can be a bit hard to remove wrinkles totally; hence you need to press the iron firmly.
How to Sew Canvas By Hand
We have already agreed that canvas is a very thick fabric, so it can be tough to sew by hand. But there are a few tricks we have up our sleeves to make this easier for you.
If you have ever tried to sew canvas by hand, then you can attest that your fingers didn’t exactly appreciate that, but let’s rectify that.
When you have to sew canvas with your hand, you need to use Speedy Stitcher paired with an upholstery thread. This would make it very easy to glide through any canvas, no matter how thick it is. It can also come in handy when you want to repair utility projects like belts and tents.
The bobbin of the Speedy Stitcher is at the bottom of the handheld awl, and this would make it hard for the thread to tangle while sewing. Also, sewing awls like Speedy Stitcher comes with varieties of needles to help you handle different projects.
However, if you don’t have any sewing awls, you can use an upholstery hand needle paired with a heavy-duty thread. But make sure that you are wearing a metal thimble, so you can easily push the needle through.
Depending on how thick the fabric is, you may have to pull out the needle with jewelry pliers.
How to Sew With Cotton Canvas
Cotton canvas can be really great to work with. Although it’s canvas, the cotton in the blend makes it less heavy than it should. Cotton canvas is stable and durable, but there are a couple of tricks that can even make it more delightful when you are working on your next project.
Before you start working using this fabric, it’s best you pre-wash it so it can be softened, and this would make it shrink up a bit.
Because of its thickness, you may have to cut out your desired pattern on one layer, but be careful of the motif’s placement while cutting.
When sewing with cotton canvas, make use of a 50wt thread made from polyester, and you would be surprised at how better it would turn out. Make use of a jean needle or 100/16 of a universal needle.
Keep in mind that if you decide to add decorative stitching, you would need a topstitch needle and thread to have a professional finish.
Bonus Tip – How to Store Your Canvas
Because canvas is quite heavy it is best rolled up and not folded when you want to store it. This would save it from having folds that can be a bit difficult to iron out.
Canvas is available in different weights and designs, so be sure to test run your method of sewing before starting.
Implementing the tips and tweaks we have listed out, would make your next canvas project turn out super nice!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Can I Sew Canvas On A Regular Sewing Machine?
If you just want to test out your skills, then yes, you can use a regular sewing machine. But if you’re going to sew canvas regularly, it’s best to use a professional machine or a heavy-duty domestic machine. And be sure it has a metal interior because it would be handling thick fabrics.
2. What Thread Should I Use To Sew Canvas?
You should make use of heavy-duty thread – size 40 – made from polyester, or you can use upholstery or wool threads.
3. What Needle Should I Use For Canvas?
To avoid breakage, make use of a jeans needle or size 90-100 universal needle.