How to Sew Canvas Fabric? by Hand and Machine

How to Sew Canvas Fabric? by Hand and Machine

This article is for you if you have always wanted to try your hand at canvas sewing but feel a little overwhelmed and unsure of how to proceed.

Making projects for your home or for yourself using canvas fabric is a great idea. Canvas is an affordable, enduring, and easy-to-clean material that is ideal for all kinds of craft projects!

The process of sewing canvas cloth can be done in a variety of ways. You can sew canvas by hand using a sewing awl, a sewing machine, or a variety of other techniques, such as using a needle and thread.

You will be able to take the canvas sewing path with some guidance and practice.

How to Sew Canvas With a Sewing Machine?

Fortunately, you will be able to sew canvas if you follow some advice and practice a little. You must first check a few things, just like with any road trip.

Gather Your Equipment

Just make sure you have the necessary supplies before you begin sewing.

  • Needle size: 90 -100 universal or denim needles are best (read sewing machine needle sizes)
  • Thread: thread made of 100% cotton, cotton-wrapped polyester, or heavy-duty polyester. Make sure the bobbin can handle the thicker thread and think about using marine thread outside since it won’t be as easily damaged by the wind and sun. Do a test sew on some scrap material first. These thicker threads might require you to adjust the standard sewing machine tension.
  • Stitch length: The best range is 3.0 to 3.5, but always test the stitch and sewing machine tension on a scrap of fabric first, as you would with any new experience.
  • Presser foot: It might be necessary to modify this to account for the thicker material.
  • Sharp scissors or rotary cutting knives are good tools for cutting canvas.
How to Sew Canvas Fabric? by Hand and Machine

Cut the Canvas Fabric

  1. On a counter, table, or cutting board, spread out your pre-washed canvas flat.
  2. Use your preferred marking method to make the pattern visible on the fabric.
  3. If you have a free or helping hand, you can hold the cloth firmly against the cutting surface while attaching one side of it, marked side up, to the surface.
  4. To keep the loose end of the fabric taught, pull it with your free hand or a helping hand.
  5. Cutting along the marks with very sharp scissors, inching forward while cutting, and remembering to adjust the holding hand to keep the fabric taut.
  6. If the freshly cut piece has any protruding threads, trim them away.

Sew Canvas Seams

You may want to select one of the three seams that are appropriate for canvas depending on the amount of exposure to the elements and the item being sewn.

  • The overlapping seam

It’s a straightforward flat seam where the two right sides are joined and stitched from the inside out. The seam’s threads are exposed to UV rays, and it isn’t entirely water-resistant. It is straightforward, though, and it doesn’t require extra seam width. In order to partially seal the edges, you can either use a wide zigzag or a straight stitch.

  • The semi-flat felled seam

Professional canvas workers frequently use this seam. The exterior has a polished, professional appearance. The seam is stitched together, and then it is flattened by adding another stitch.

There is only one stitch line visible on the exterior, and it is water-resistant. Although the outside is neatly finished and not overly bulky, the raw edges are not neatened.

How to Sew Canvas Fabric? by Hand and Machine
  • Full flat-felled seam

As they are turned in, this basic seam leaves no raw edges. An edge is finished on both sides of the flat felled seam. It is nearly waterproof and offers 100% fabric strength. To finish the seam, a little extra fabric is needed before the edges are folded over. To avoid bunching or oversized bulky seams, trim away any extra fabric.

Hem the Canvas Fabric

Another bulky area that can be challenging to sew on a standard home sewing machine is hemming thick materials like canvas.

Here are a few simple hem ideas:

  • Single hem: Before the machine stitching down the hem, turn up the fabric using double-sided tape. A hot knife can be used to trim the edge. simple, flat, and well-kept.
  • Webbing: If your hem will support fasteners or poppers, cut and trim as usual but sew in some webbing. It will give you more power.
  • Rolled edge: The canvas’ edge should be neatly rolled up. For a neat edge, use the rolled hem; turn up and stitch down. Before you sew, tape the hem in place with double-sided tape.
  • Double hem: Using the double-sided tape to secure, fold the material once, then twice. The strength of the canvas will provide the additional thickness needed for poppers or fasteners when you stitch the top and bottom sides of the hem. Read about hems with two folds.

How to Sew Canvas by Hand?

To sew canvas by hand, you’ll need a strong needle and strong thread, just like you would when using a sewing machine. The fabric won’t hold together securely if your needle and/or thread are too thin.

How to Sew Canvas Fabric? by Hand and Machine

Canvas is traditionally sewn by hand using a leather needle or upholstery hand-sewing needle. Wear a thimble or think about using a small pair of pliers to help with the task because repeatedly pulling that needle through the thick fabric is hard on the hands and may leave them feeling pretty sore.

It will be similar to what you would use for machine sewing to choose the best thread for hand-sewing canvas. For securing items, the best option is a heavy-duty or upholstery thread made of polyester, cotton, or polyester wrapped in cotton.

The thicker wool upholstery threads are also an option because there is no concern that they will get caught in the bobbin.

A sewing awl is a tool made specifically to make sewing any heavy material much simpler. It is more commonly referred to as the Speedy Stitcher. Similar to a sewing machine, the Speedy Stitcher resembles an awl with a needle eye at the tip. It’s attached to a handle that’s simple to hold and has a spool of strong thread inside.

The handle’s leverage allows the thread to easily pass through the needle tip, which can then puncture the thick material. You might need to practice a bit to get the hang of the technique, but once you do, you won’t want to sew canvas by hand again without one.

How to Sew With Cotton Canvas?

Cotton canvas is a fantastic material to work with. Despite being the canvas, it isn’t as heavy as it should be because the blend also contains cotton. Although cotton canvas is dependable and long-lasting, there are a few tips you can use to make your next project even more enjoyable.

It is best to pre-wash this fabric before using it in order to soften it and cause a small amount of shrinkage.

You might have to cut out your desired pattern on just one layer due to the material’s thickness, but pay attention to where you cut to avoid cutting the motif out of the wrong place.

How to Sew Canvas Fabric? by Hand and Machine

You’d be surprised at how much better it would turn out if you used a polyester 50wt thread when sewing cotton canvas. Use a 100/16 universal needle or a jean needle.

Remember that if you choose to add decorative stitching, a topstitch needle, and thread are required for a polished appearance.

Tips for Sewing Canvas

  • Sew slowly over bulky areas (you might even need to turn the wheel by hand occasionally). To keep your seams straight and stop your thread from snapping, sew slowly and steadily. For this reason, if you are a fast stitcher, you should slow down for these kinds of projects.
  • When sewing, avoid stretching the fabric because canvas fabrics have a tendency to stretch and distort. This can be accomplished by letting the fabric move freely under the presser foot and exercising extreme caution when pinning or otherwise tampering with the fabric both before and after sewing.
  • If you must backstitch, take your time—your machine might not like it at all if you backstitch on canvas. In this case, do a reinforcing stitch instead of back stitching; this means sewing a second stitch over the initial stitch)
  • Spray the area with water, then wait a few seconds for it to soak before ironing finished canvas projects. In order to prevent scorching the fabric, make sure to move the iron frequently while pressing firmly over the wrinkles on the highest setting.
  • When storing unused canvas fabric, unlike other fabrics like cotton and linen, you should roll it up rather than fold it to avoid creases, which are very difficult to remove once they have formed.

Conclusion: Sew Canvas Fabric

Your knowledge of how to successfully sew all of your canvas projects, both by hand and machine, should have improved by this point.

Just keep in mind that sewing canvas or other heavy-duty materials necessitates adhering to a few very crucial steps regarding machine needle size and type, thread thickness, and presser foot tension.


Is Canvas Fabric Easy to Sew?

Sewing on canvas is a lot easier and more fun than you’d think! Canvas is a fabric that can be tricky to sew, so if you’re new to sewing and want to make something out of it, these tips can help you finish it perfectly.

What Thread Should I Use to Sew Canvas?

Use upholstery or wool threads, which are both size 40 heavy-duty polyester thread is also recommended.

What Needle Should I Use for Canvas?

Use a universal needle or a jeans needle between sizes 90 and 100 to prevent breakage.

What Kind of Stitch is Used for Canvas?

You can sew through the canvas with a leather needle as well. Set your machine to a straight stitch with a length of about 3.0 to 3.5.

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