What is canvas fabric?
When we think of canvas we generally think of a fairly heavy cotton fabric. For the most part, this is true – ‘canvas’ refers to a plain woven fabric.
It’s usually woven from cotton, but can also be woven from linen or hemp. It can also be a blend of any of these fibres and may also include some synthetic. So technically, canvas is a type of weave, not a type of fibre. But for our purposes here, let’s assume we’re talking about cotton canvas.
The weight of different types of canvas varies quite a bit. It’s measured in GSM – Grams per Square Metre (or oz per square yard in imperial measurement).
Generally, the higher the GSM, the heavier the canvas.
Here’s s a rough guide:
- Light weight – Up to 150gsm
- Medium weight – 150-300gsm
- Heavy weight – 300-500gsm
- Ultra heavy-duty/Outdoor canvas – over 500gsm
What’s the difference between duck cloth and cotton canvas fabric?
There is often confusion around whether duck cloth is the same as canvas, or different.
Duck cloth is simply a type of canvas.
Garden variety canvas tends to be reasonably coarse to touch. Whereas duck cloth (sometimes called duck canvas) has a higher thread count than most other canvases, which means there are more threads in the same square space. This makes it softer with a smooth ‘hand’. It also tends to be a bit more pliable and less stiff than other types of canvas, while still being fairly tough.
As far as weight goes, duck cloth generally comes in around the medium weight classification (approximately 150-300gsm).
Due to it’s softness and tendency to drape, duck cloth is usually suited to cushion covers, curtains, slip covers and clothing such as pants or jackets. Whereas other types of canvas might be too stiff for these applications.
So, what do ducks have to do with fabric?
And, why not chickens or geese?
Well ‘duck’ comes from the Dutch word ‘doek’ meaning cloth. Dutch sailors wore pants and outerwear made from ‘doek’. At some point that was translated into ‘duck’ in English.
Where to buy canvas fabric in Australia
Canvas fabric at Spotlight
I’m really impressed with the range of canvas fabric at Spotlight. There are two ranges in particular that are real stand-outs.
Jocelyn Proust fabric
Firstly, I’m madly in love with Jocelyn Proust’s range of fresh, modern Australiana designs.
Jocelyn is an Australian designer who lives on the north coast of New South Wales. She regularly collaborates with brands and one of her more recent engagements is with Spotlight for both fabric by-the-metre and ready-made products.
You can buy the following designs on canvas by the metre at Spotlight.
Australian indigenous fabric
The second equally amazing canvas range is designed by a collective of Warlukurlangu Indigeneous Artists. Most of these designs would look amazing stretched across an art canvas. The artists retain copyright of their designs which is administered on their behalf by Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation.
Other canvas suppliers in Australia
If you’re looking for plain coloured canvas fabric, then Homecraft Textiles has a wide range of colours in a 200gsm duck cloth. Although their range is a narrow 112cm wide, it’s quite affordable and is likely to be a viable option if you need a lot of fabric for your project.
Rosebery Fabrics specialise in outdoor canvas, but they do have a small range of high-quality heavy weight cotton canvas suitable for upholstery, slipcovers, cushions, bags etc. This range includes a few natural undyed options.
The Fabric Store
If you’re looking to add some oomph to a skirt or suit, or to sew some homewares in some simple colours, The Fabric Store also has a canvas range. Some of their canvases are 100% cotton and others are a cotton/linen blend.
The Fabric Store typically offer sophisticated, contemporary colours across all of their fabric ranges. We talk more about our love for The Fabric Store in our article on where to buy dressmaking fabric in Australia.
Stripe canvas fabric
If you’re looking for striped canvas fabric, here are a couple of Australian suppliers.
For a great basic ticking stripe similar to the examples below, head on over to Fabric Traders. Their pricing is good and their shipping is super fast.
The Stripes Company
If you’re looking for a blast of colour in a deckchair style stripe, then you absolutely must check out The Stripes Company. The range below is from their interior stripe canvas range and is suitable for cushions, blinds, curtains, seat pads and bags.
Their ticking fabric range below is a modern take on the traditional ticking stripe and is also suitable for interior projects.
Where to buy canvas online
If you can’t find the canvas you want in Australia, then there is a huge range of online stores that will ship to Australia at affordable rates. Here’s my pick of the international suppliers.
Fabric.com is the very first place I recommend you look internationally for all types of canvas fabric. Their prices are generally pretty cheap even after converting from US$ to AU$. They’re owned by Amazon so their shipping is super-fast and affordable and they ship to a huge number of countries, including Australia.
You can view Fabric.com’s whopping 2,000 different types of canvas fabric here. Fortunately, they have a comprehensive list of filters you can use to narrow your search to a more manageable list.
They really do offer something for everyone: traditional canvas prints, solid colours, contemporary prints, stripes, checks and spots. I’ve picked a few prints that I particularly like below.
- Top row: whimsical canvas fabric prints from Art Gallery Fabrics
- Second row: Covington traditional toile with a fresh twist
- Third row: traditional canvas prints from Magnolia Home Fashions
Etsy is a treasure-trove for fabric shopping and sourcing canvas is no exception. Here’s my rundown of some of the best cotton canvas sellers.
MarieoTate ships from China and offers free shipping on most items. Yep, free shipping. Almost unheard of for international shipping.
I’m singling these guys out because they have a range of really heavy-duty canvas (780gsm) in contemporary colours. This weight is hard to find in good colours. They also have a very solid range of 310gsm medium weight in lots of earthy colours. Their tie-dye range is also unusual, but interesting.
MandynBaker on Etsy has this beautiful washed canvas which gives a gorgeous stonewashed look. It makes awesome bags (see the inspo below) and would also make great pants, jackets and aprons.
The per metre price for this range is not the cheapest but, they offer free shipping which definitely compensates for this.
If cheap and basic is what you’re after then Neotrims on Etsy is worth checking out. They have a basic range of canvas weights and compositions at very reasonable prices.
Big Duck Canvas
As their name suggests, Big Duck Canvas are serious canvas merchants. Located in the US and shipping internationally, they stock a wide range of different weights and types.
Their stonewashed canvas is popular for slipcovers as it has a soft hand and comes in a range of contemporary colours with a slight vintage look. This range is made of 80% cotton and 20% polyester which makes it slightly more durable and relatively wrinkle-free.
Definitely worth checking out is their Canvas fabric projects page. You’ll find loads of inspiration here.
If you’re looking for bulk quantities, they also offer wholesale pricing and a sample service.
If Japanese fabric is your jam, then you’ll find a fabulous range of quirky designs at Modes4U. They do fast and super-affordable shipping too.
The canvas prints below are mostly from the Echnio fabric collection. These would work really well as cushion covers, bags, or aprons. Some of the larger scale designs are perfect for affordable art – just grab a staple gun, an art canvas and get creative!
Organic cotton canvas
If you’re particularly looking for organic cotton canvas, it’s tricky to find. It’s worthwhile trying to source it though, as the environmental impact is dramatically different from non-organic textiles.
Here are a few options:
- Fabric Traders has a small range of plain coloured organic cotton duck.
- Organic Cotton Plus has lots of gorgeous organic fabrics including this range of organic cotton canvas.
- Sarah Waterhouse on Etsy has a nice undyed hemp and organic cotton canvas.
- Catkin and Scrapz on Etsy has a natural undyed and unfinished organic cotton canvas.
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