6 Tips for Sewing with Canvas

Canvas — typically 100 percent cotton fabric used for ship sails, painter drop cloths, shoes, works of art and even clothing — is the perfect medium for creating simple, durable home decor and accessories. Canvas fabric now comes in a variety of colors, prints and weights, making it ideal for a multitude of decorative projects!

Sew a fun clutch with canvas!

Photo via sewVery

Follow these tips for sewing with canvas:


Since canvas is a closely woven, heavy fabric, it’s important to use the appropriately sized sewing machine needle when sewing your new home decor or accessory items. To avoid breaking needles and frustration as you attempt to sew through multiple layers of canvas fabric, use a size 90 to 100 Universal or Jeans needle. 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.


Heavy-duty thread (size 40) made from polyester, cotton-wrapped polyester or cotton are well suited to a heavier-weight canvas. Wool and upholstery thread are also very strong threads often used when sewing with canvas. Just remember, however, that these thicker threads may not work appropriately in the bobbin of a home sewing machine. Adjustments to the bobbin tension settings, a special bobbin case or regular thread may be necessary.

If sewing a canvas item that will be used outdoors, consider sewing with marine thread specially designed to withstand exposure to the sun, water, salt, chemicals and other pollutants.

Stitch length

Typically, when sewing with thick or heavy fabrics, a longer stitch length (3.0 to 3.5) produces a nicer-looking stitch and makes sewing through multiple layers easier. 

Clips and tape

Multiple layers of thicker fabrics can be difficult to pin. Instead, hold unfinished seams in place temporarily with clips or double-sided tape (slightly smaller in width than the seam allowance). These two items will make sewing canvas so much easier and reduce your frustration in dealing with stiff, heavy fabrics at the sewing machine.


To smooth out minor wrinkles and folds in canvas fabric, spritz the area with water and let it soak in a few seconds. Then use a hot iron set to its highest setting (usually for cotton and linen) and press firmly over the wrinkle, making sure to move the iron often to prevent scorching the fabric. You can also use a damp press cloth instead of spraying the area with water. 


Keep canvas fabric rolled rather than folded to prevent difficult-to-remove creases. Storage is a cinch when you keep canvas rolled up or on the bolt.

Share tips, start a discussion or ask one of our experts or other students a question.

Make a comment:
characters remaining

One Response to “6 Tips for Sewing with Canvas”

  1. ross

    thanks for your useful tips and tricks,