Sewing Canvas

Troubled with Sewing Canvas? We Can’t Wait to Dispel All Doubts

Sewing canvas is doable for everyone. But can we do it at home?

With the best sewing tips and tricks by Super Label Store, nothing is impossible. The only question is how. 

If you’re a sewing enthusiast already, read this and other Super Label Store articles. We describe how to sew step by step. 

Otherwise, if you’re at the beginning of this bumpy road, read Tilly and the Buttons’ guide about how to start sewing. 

Since you’re here, we’ve prepared a few handy paragraphs of pure knowledge on sewing canvas. 

Read how to sew canvas and what it is below!

Sewing canvas
Image source: Speedy Stitcher

Sewing canvas: A few words about the fabric

Canvas is a heavy-duty plain-woven fabric—made of cotton and (to a lesser extent) linen. It’s usually also mixed with polyvinyl chloride. 

By the way, do you know many types of cotton?

Historically, we used to make canvas from flax, tow, jute, and hemp. 

The weave used in canvas is exceptionally thick, making it superbly durable.

It’s perfect if rough treatment and high-pressure levels are involved throughout the usage.

Discover also other types of textile fibers

Rifle paper canvas fabric
Image source: Suzy Quilts

What do we use canvas for besides painting?

We can use this material for making:

    • backpacks, 
    • sails, 
    • tents, 
    • baby carriers & stroller covers,
    • lunch bags,
    • window treatments,
    • headboards, 
    • tarpaulin,
    • workwear
    • tote bags,
    • camp chairs, 
    • carry bags,
    • marquees,  
    • other items that require sturdiness, and
    • fashion objects as handbags and shoes;

Canvas shoes have a couple of advantages, according to Shoe Zone:

    • comfortable, 
    • lightweight, 
    • allow air through to cool your feet,
    • easy to clean, and 
    • can be paired with a wide range of outfits;

It’s a durable, sturdy, and heavy-duty choice!

As explained by the staff of Master Class

“By blending cotton with synthetic fibers, the canvas can become water-resistant or even waterproof, making it a great outdoor fabric.”

How to sew canvas
Image source: Shoe Zone

Canvas comes in two basic types: 

    1. plain,
    2. duck (where threads are more tightly woven); 

The number of types of fabric for sewing clothes can give us headaches.  

Let’s clear out what’s the difference between the plain canvas and duck (according to Fabric):

Canvas (plain) Duck

What is it?

Duck is a type of canvas. 

What do they have in common?

    1. plain-weave, 
    2. made from cotton, 
    3. very versatile;
    1. plain-weave, 
    2. made from cotton, 
    3. very versatile;

Thread count

Canvas has a coarser weave. 

Duck has a high thread count, which makes it smoother.


Canvas comes in heavier weights, such as

    • medium/heavyweight, to 
    • very heavyweight

Duck is more in the medium weight range


Both give you a wide variety of options (from durable clothing to accessories). 

Canvas is excellent for heavier projects that will see more wear and tear, such as

    • shoes and duffle bags,
    • sturdy backpacks and aprons; 

Rhino canvas and sailcloth are even more durable and made with synthetic fibers.

Waxed canvas is made from cotton fibers and treated with paraffin wax. These treatments add a cool look and a built-in water repellency.

Read “5 Tips for Sewing Waxed Canvas,” on Blog Colette Hq

Cotton duck works well fabulous for projects that benefit from its lighter weight:

    • handbags and totes, 
    • draperies, 
    • light upholstery,
    • anorak jackets, and
    • blazers; 

Duck is lighter and with a smoother hand, so more pliable and easy to work with. 

In the US, we classify canvas in two ways: 

    1. by weight—ounces per square yard (the higher the ounce weight, the heavier the fabric), and 
    2. by a graded number system—the numbers run in reverse of the weight, so a number ten canvas is lighter than a number four.

(by Big Duck Canvas)

Canvas tote tutorial
Image source: Life Sew Savory

Sewing canvas—hands-on experience

The road to success in sewing canvas is a little challenging. So let’s get down to business without further hesitation.

In this part of the article, we’ll tackle:

Let’s start with the basics of every sewing experience—sewing supplies

What do I need to start sewing canvas
Image source: Sailrite

Tools for sewing canvas

Staring with the obvious, before we get to canvas sewing projects, we need to start somewhere. We need sewing tools

Let’s see what Treasurie advises us to gather in our canvas sewing kit: 

Sewing supplies


Extra info

canvas sewing needle

size 90 -100 

universal or denim needle


Learn all there is to know about sewing threads types and tips.

If you work with a sewing machine, adjust its tension by testing sew on a scrap.

Read about the best sewing machine for beginners

What’s the best thread for sewing canvas?

It should be:

    • heavy-duty, 
    • polyester, 
    • cotton wrapped polyester, or 
    • 100% cotton thread; 

Check if the bobbin handles the thicker thread. 

Consider marine thread if you sew an outfit or an item for outdoor use. Then, it won’t succumb to wind and sun damage so quickly. 

sewing scissors

For this project, you’ll need sharp scissors or rotary cutting knives

stitch length

Read about sewing stitches here. 

Anywhere between 3.0–3.5 is best.

Always try out the stitch and sewing machine tension on a scrap of the fabric first.

When it comes to scraps, read here how to upcycle fabric scraps.


This part may need adjusting to accommodate the thicker material of canvas.

clips and tape

Multiple layers of canvas can be difficult to pin. 

Hold unfinished seams in place temporarily with:

    • clips, or 
    • double-sided tape;

Are you a bit frustrated when dealing with stiff, heavy fabrics at the sewing machine? Clips and tape will reduce these issues in no time. 

We’ve got you covered!

For plastic sewing canvas, the Jjneedles recommends using tapestry/cross-stitch needles. They have a large eye and a sharp road point. These needles are also suitable for needlepoint, petit point, and countered cross stitch.

Craftsy advises:

“If you are adding decorative finishes to the seams, consider using a topstitch needle along with topstitch thread to give your item a professional look.”

How to sew canvas by hand
Image source: 123rf

For canvas storage, a good practice is to keep canvas fabric rolled up or on the bolt rather than folded. It will help you prevent difficult-to-remove creases.

We have browsed through sewing tools that are useful for both machine and hand sewing. 

The question that arises is: which is better for dealing with canvas?

Hand sewing versus machine sewing is a Nikon versus Canon kind of discussion. Opponents never call it quits. 

Sewing canvas by hand
Image source: Blog Colette Hq

We’re prepared a shortcut for both sides of the story in the paragraphs below. 

Yet, you’ll still have to decide which way to go by yourself! 

To deepen the sewing machine vs. hand sewing discourse, have a look at these articles:

    • “Hand Sewing vs. Machine Sewing: Pros and Cons,” on Masterclass
    • “Is Hand Sewing Better than Machine Sewing? Pros and Cons,” on Sewing Is Cool
    • “Machine Sewing vs. Hand Sewing–Should You Make the Switch?” on Sew Me Your Stuff
    • “Hand Stitching Vs. Machine Stitching Leather: Pros and Cons of Each,” on Tactile Hobby

Canvas sewing machine
Image source: Sailrite

How to sew canvas by hand?

Are you inspired by the idea of sewing canvas by hand?

There are several reasons for choosing hand-sewing over machine sewing. 

For example, if you’re not in love in sewing and just need to repair one of our utility projects: 

    • tent, 
    • sail, 
    • belt, 
    • or even a single fashion item (be it these comfy canvas shoes that your kid adores);

Otherwise, you may be a hand-sewing enthusiast who believes hand sewing adds to the project’s luxury and precision of the ultimate piece. 

Also, if an item is small, you may not feel like even taking this heavy sewing machine from the closet. Here, you prefer to sew manually for convenience.    

Whether or not there is a sewing machine in the house, let’s see how to handle a canvas sewing fabric by hand. 

Canvas sewing project
Image source: Fabric

According to All Free Sewing

“Using sewing awls like the Speedy Stitcher with upholstery thread can make you easily glide through a canvas that is even an inch thick.” 

With this YouTube video by Sailrite, we are far from fashion but still close to sewing. 

Let’s tackle “Using the Speedy Stitcher to Sew Webbing & Canvas,” with this tutorial:

Also, to handle sewing canvas by hand, you can pick one of the traditional sewing supplies: a needle. 

“What Kind of Needle Should You Use When Sewing Canvas by Hand?”

Sewing expert Masa Kitani from eHowArtsAndCrafts responds in her YouTube video: 

Thread for sewing canvas
Image source: Wearing History Blog

Here’s what else can we learn about how to sew canvas by hand from All Free Sewing?

Canvas often seems too thick to sew it by hand. Reach out for a couple of helpful tips to make this experience smoother:

    1. The bobbin in sewing awls is held in the base of the handheld awl, making the thread less likely to tangle throughout your project. 
    2. If you don’t have a handheld sewing awl on hand, use an upholstery hand sewing needle with heavy-duty thread. 
    3. Wear a metal thimble to press the needle through. 
    4. Depending on the thickness of your canvas, pull the needle through your fabric with jewelry pliers!

Tips on sewing canvas fabric
Image source: All Free Sewing

Apart from these hand-sewing moments, when we’re:

    1. experimenting with a handcraft, or 
    2. sporadically repairing home stuff, 

we’ll typically sew with a sewing machine. 

Let’s get to grips with this part of our sewing canvas adventure.

Canvas sewing machine

Nowadays, sewing machines are so innovative that they do an excellent job sewing almost everything.

Let’s do a little research to find the best sewing machine for canvas.

According to Sail Makers Supply, a straight stitch machine with a walking foot is the best option. A walking foot is indispensable for sewing large, heavy canvas and vinyl. 

A straight stitch machine is:

    • more powerful, 
    • less complicated, 
    • easier to keep in time, and 
    • able to sew through the thicker, heavier fabric 

than a zig-zag machine.

A regular commercial non-portable machine is fantastic if you have enough room to canvas sewing near me at your sewing place. 

Sewing machine for canvas and leather
Image source: The Seaman Mom

Which sewing machine for canvas and leather should we choose?

Sewing machine prices range from: 

    • $200 for a new servo motor (preferred for sewing canvas over a clutch motor), 
    • $100 for a used machine like an old Singer 111W, if you’re lucky,
    • $1,100 for a barely used Pfaff 1245 (regular price $3,000) 

You can find a used machine on Craig’s List.

If you wish to buy a new heavy-duty sewing machine for canvas, let us lead you to the best solution with Olive Borden, Sew Orbit, Teach You To Sew, and Textile Tuts.  

A sewing machine name

Summary Description

Singer Heavy Duty 4452 Sewing Machine

The most affordable with professional results on a variety of projects at high speeds. 


    1. 110 stitch applications
    2. Inbuilt automatic needle threader
    3. 32 built-in stitch patterns (for decorative touches) 
    4. optional walking foot and clearance plate for heavy-duty materials 
    5. capable of up to 1,100 stitches per minute

Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine

Known as the best model for beginners

It includes:

    • 37 built-in stitches,
    • free arm options,
    • six feet, 
    • heavy-duty needles for work on canvas and leather,
    • a non stick presser foot to facilitate work with these materials
    • automatic needle,
    • top drop-in bobbin system
    • metal needle plate

Janome HD3000 Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine

Extremely versatile

It’s a heavy-duty sewing machine with:

    • reverse stitch lever,
    • built-in automatic needle threader,
    • snap-on pressure feet,
    • adjustable presser foot pressure (can be set to suit the thickness of every fabric),
    • a variety of presser feet and needles included,
    • up to 850 stitches per minute and still runs smoothly;

Besides these three models, here’s a list of other sewing machines on the heavy-duty market that you may want to get to know:

    • Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 Computerized Portable Sewing Machine
    • Singer 7258 Computerized Sewing Machine
    • Singer Heavy Duty 4411 Sewing Machine
    • Singer Simple 3232 Portable Sewing Machine
    • Singer Heavy Duty 4423 Sewing Machine
    • Juki HZL-F600 Computerized Sewing And Quilting Machine
    • Juki HZL-LB 5100 Computerized Sewing Machine
    • Janome Blue Couture Sewing Machine
    • Janome HD1000 Industrial Grade Sewing Machine
    • Janome HD1000 Heavy-Duty Sewing Machine
    • Rex Portable Walking Foot Sewing Machine
    • Brother Project Runway PC420PRW
    • Brother ST371HD Sewing Machine
    • Brother XR3774 Sewing Machine
    • Sailrite ultra-feed LSZ-1 walking foot sewing machine
    • Juki HZL-F600 computerized sewing and quilting machine
    • Tuffsew 9” walking foot industrial sewing machine

Best sewing machine for canvas
Image source: Sewing Is Cool

Canvas sewing projects

According to Tilly and the Buttons, if canvas works with your beginner’s sewing pattern, use it for your project. 

Tilly and the Buttons, an expert sewing blog, lists canvas as recommended for sewing beginners, next to:

    • chambray, 
    • denim, 
    • drill, 
    • viscose (AKA rayon), 
    • cotton lawn, and 
    • other woven fabrics that aren’t too slippery to handle at the beginning of our experience with sewing.  

Sewing canvas for beginners
Image source: Agf Blog

Where should we start working on our sewing canvas projects?

When you get to the sewing proficiency with sewing canvas, you’ll learn:

    1. how to hem canvas without sewing,
    2. how to sew a zipper into canvas,
    3. how to sew pop up camper canvas, 
    4. what’s the best canvas needle for a sewing machine, and 
    5. all about sewing canvas seams;

Yet, for now, let’s focus on simpler sewing projects, like this sunny, flowerish-patterned, super modern canvas tote bag by Agf Blog

Learn also how to make a tote bag with wax canvas on Life Sew Savory

And another one, a little smaller and somehow cuter, “A Saturday Showoff” by Sew Can She

Canvas tote sewing tutorial
Image source: Life Sew Savory

Tote bag is the first relatively simple idea on our list of projects made using canvas. 

But you know what? We’re dying to share our little secret related to sewing projects.

Every time you finish a bag, a fresh pair of trousers, or a dress, reach out to the Super Label Store for a custom woven label designed for your new garment.

You’ll be surprised how much these:

can lift the overall look of your fashion items!

Another good news is that you don’t have to be an established brand to benefit from this service. 

Woven labels by Super Label Store are for everyone, from small DIYers at home to multi-brands. 

As your sewing career develops, and who knows, maybe you start selling your projects; before you know, you may need a new wallet!

Wouldn’t that be a good idea to use your skill to make yourself a new one?

Learn to sew a Military Canvas Wallet with Jenni Swiss from this YouTube tutorial:

The Internet is full of everything, but there are things you don’t want to miss. 

Like these beautifully described patterns by Blog Colette Hq made with the use of cotton linen canvas. 


    1. Zinnia—quick and easy-to-fit skirt, 
    2. Lily—sundress featuring princess seams for a curve-skimming fit
    3. Phoebe—modern A-line sheath dress with a lined bodice shaped by princess seams for easy fitting

And for a quick summary of what you’ve learned, check in with Suzy and “A Quilty Adventure Part VIII: How to Sew with Canvas” on Suzy Quilts.

Sewing canvas seams
Image source: Blog Colette Hq