Guest post: Tips for sewing with waxed canvas

Today I have another guest post to share. (I’m so excited about these posts – I have some really talented quilters lined up to share this year and I love that they each have their own style and specialty wo that we learn something from each of them.)

2017 Improv quilts by Debbie Jeske

Today I’m really excited to have Debbie Jeske. Debbie is a multi-talented quilter and shares lots of helpful techniques and information on her blog, A Quilter’s Table. She has a gift for modern improv quilting. Here’s a sample of her quilts from 2017. You can find out more about them in this post, as well as see more of what Debbie has been up to in the past year.

If you’re feeling inspired to try some improv, or just improve your improv skills, check out Debbie’s many improv tutorials here.

And now I’ll turn the mike over to her!

Hello! I’m Debbie, a maker and blogger with my home base at A Quilter’s Table. You’ll find me (often!) on Instagram as @aquilterstable, and through my newsletter, The Scrap Basket, where I love to highlight other creators in our community. Mostly I consider myself a quilter, but I also really enjoy making all types of small sewn projects. Which is why when Amy invited me to share today, I immediately thought of my new obsession, waxed canvas.

I’d been eyeing waxed canvas for a while and finally I just had to break down and try it. Everything I’d seen made with it was just so cool. I seriously loved the look of it.

The first item I made was a travel bag for my husband. One day he started telling me about how his was wearing out, and immediately I hollered, “Wait! I’ll make you one!” You know us creative types! We think we need to make everything! Well in this case, it was the perfect chance to try my hand with waxed canvas. It was large enough not to be too fussy, which is always great when you try something new.



What is Waxed Canvas?
Waxed canvas is cotton infused with a paraffin or natural beeswax based wax, woven into or applied to the cloth. The waxing process adds durability and a water-resistance to the fabric. It’s got a casual, rugged look and it’s easy to sew.


I used a 10 oz. canvas for all the projects I’ve made.  It’s a little stiff, but softens up with use. It has a leather-look, and I’ve found that it substitutes well for it. Working with it distresses it, and personally, I think that just adds to the appeal. It’s easier to handle than it looks. Yes, it’s stiffer than quilting cotton by a long shot, but not so much that it’s difficult to handle.

Basket pattern from Beyond Cotton by Krista Fleckenstein

Creating with It
  • This is a perfect use for wonder clips rather than pins to prevent leaving pin marks.    
  • A standard sewing foot is fine.
  • Use a denim needle – like a 100/16.
  • Heavy-duty thread is recommended, though I found it worked well to use regular thread in the bobbin.
  • Use a longer stitch length – 3.0.
  • If you need to interface your project, interface the lining, not the canvas.
  • To mark your fabric, use a Hera marker, chopstick, or even the blunt end of a crochet hook.
  • Obvious or not, you can’t just use your iron to press seams open. But good news – finger pressing works great! If you really feel the need to press, use medium heat and a pressing cloth or clapper.
  • If you need a sharp crease, try using a bone folder.
  • Use a hair dryer to make the canvas more pliable or to remove unwanted creases or wrinkles.
“Leather” Bottom Pouch pattern from Beyond Cotton 

Fabric care

Don’t wash or dry-clean waxed canvas fabric. Try spot-cleaning or a stiff brush. Mine came in a roll and that’s a good way to store it to prevent unwanted creases.

Canvas and Leather Lunch Bag tutorial by Pretty Prudent

Hope that gives you a helpful introduction to using waxed canvas in your own projects! I purchased mine from ALFrancesTextiles on Etsy, and I’d highly recommend them due to their fine product and  excellent service. By the way, one yard of the canvas measures a generous 60″ x 36″, so there’s a good chance there will be plenty to make several projects. At least that’s how it’s working for me! Tag me on Instagram if you give it a try!

Tips for Sewing bags with Waxed Canvas fabric

Great tips – I learned so much. Thanks so much for sharing, Debbie!

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  • Reply
    February 1, 2018 at 7:49 am

    I love what your doing with the waxed canvas! The little basket is adorable! But so are all your projects!!

  • Reply
    February 1, 2018 at 10:31 am

    Really helpful tips! I’ll bet your husband loved the travel bag, it came out great.

  • Reply
    February 6, 2018 at 11:14 pm

    Sounds fun to work with!

  • Reply
    Christine @ modernlittleme
    February 15, 2018 at 7:44 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this!! I’ve been eyeing waxed canvas myself… so I’m going to pin this post to refer back to! Gorgeous projects!

  • Reply
    March 26, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Do we need to worry about it “gunking” up our machine at all?

    • Reply
      April 6, 2018 at 7:55 am

      Micah – I didn’t have any trouble with that at all!

  • Reply
    May 7, 2019 at 11:28 am

    Have you tried machine embroidery with waxed canvas? And if so, how did it do?

    • Reply
      May 8, 2019 at 4:33 pm

      I’ve never tried it. I’m sorry I’m no help on that.

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