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What is Canvas Cotton? Know Your Fabrics Like a Designer

canvas pillowcase
Written By
Parachute Team
Photographs By
JESSICA SCHRAMM FOR PARACHUTE
@parachutehome
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Canvas is one of the oldest fabrics on the planet. While ancient civilizations used materials like hemp and linen to create canvas fabrics for clothing and other important textiles, cotton canvas is among the most common types of canvas used today.

Canvas remains popular centuries after its creation thanks to its impressive durability and a wide range of uses. If you’ve ever wondered exactly what this woven fabric is, how it’s made and why it’s so popular, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ll cover the canvas fabric definition, all the important details about canvas cotton and how you can take advantage of this versatile fabric in your home.

What is Canvas Cotton?

Canvas cotton is a simple fabric made by weaving heavy cotton fibers in a basic one-over, one-under technique. Because canvas cotton is so simple to make and contains strong, thick fibers, it’s a popular material for more demanding textile uses like furniture upholstery, sailcloth and clothing.

What Is Canvas Made Of?

Originally, most canvas was made of hemp. In fact, the true definition of canvas refers to hemp fabric because the term “canvas” stems from the word “cannabis” — the Latin name for the hemp plant. Hemp-derived canvas was eventually replaced with cotton-based canvas as cotton grew in popularity, but today there are a few other canvas materials on the market as well.

Understanding the Ins and Outs of Canvas Cotton

Canvas cotton is a great material to incorporate into your home, but it’s important to recognize the ins and outs of this popular fabric.

What Are the Benefits of Canvas?

Many fabrics in our homes and closets are difficult to care for, easily damaged and require specific usage considerations. Compared to more finicky or specialized fabrics, canvas cotton is like a breath of fresh air!

Traditionally, canvas is an extremely affordable material thanks to its simplicity. Canvas cotton is remarkably strong though, resistant to pilling, easy to clean and rarely requires ironing. In its natural, untreated state, canvas cotton is even water resistant.

Are There Cons to Choosing Canvas Fabrics?

Though it’s a fabulous fabric for many applications, there are some product types that you should consider going with an alternative fabric to canvas.

Because canvas cotton is made with thicker fibers and features a simple weave, it tends to be rougher to the touch than many other popular cotton fabrics. Canvas made of cotton also has the potential to stretch slightly over time depending on how you use it.

Keep in mind, if you care for your canvas cotton appropriately, the benefits of this common material far outweigh the potential issues.

How Do Canvas Materials Compare to Other Fabrics?

While canvas can be ideal for many applications, it’s common to wonder how canvas compares with other materials. If you’re exploring other fabric options like duck, linen or traditional cotton for apparel and home needs, here are a few things to consider.

Common Canvas Materials: Cotton or Linen?

Linen canvas is made from woven flax fibers and has a similar sturdiness and durability when compared to cotton-based canvas. Some linen canvas is slightly more rigid and longer lasting than canvas made from cotton.

Compared to linen canvas, cotton canvas is almost always smoother and softer.

Learn more about linen in our fabric guides:

Linen: Know Your Bedding Like a Designer

Why is European Flax Linen the Best in the World?

Linen vs. Sateen vs Percale: What’s the Difference

Cotton Canvas vs Duck

Duck, or cotton duck, is a very similar fabric to cotton canvas. In fact, duck is actually a type of cotton canvas with a tighter weave and a lower price point. Duck is more commonly used for industrial applications, so if you’re looking for a fabric to use in bedding or clothing applications, cotton canvas would be a better choice.

Cotton Canvas vs Regular Cotton

While cotton canvas and traditional cotton fabrics begin with the same source plant, the manufacturing process and common types of weaves vary significantly.

Regular cotton used in delicate clothing often features a more precise weave or knit for a softer feel against the skin, while cotton canvas is intended to deliver strength over softness.

It’s possible to find a durable yet soft cotton canvas that will stand up to repeated use without feeling scratchy or rough. Many cotton canvas fabrics used in clothing are made from a slightly softer grade of cotton for improved comfort while still offering the traditional canvas benefits.

Why Choose Canvas Cotton Products

Cotton is a fantastic natural fiber that stands up to heavy use and repeated washings without showing signs of wear or degradation. If you prefer selecting products for your home and closet that feature natural, ethically sourced materials, canvas cotton is a great choice to consider.

Durability and Comfort for Dog Beds

Your pet’s bed is one of the most difficult items to maintain in your home. From accumulating dust and pet hair to coming in contact with slobber, mud and dirt, pet beds have a lot to contend with!

Canvas cotton is the perfect material for pet beds because it’s strong yet still soft enough for your pup to snuggle into. The tight fabric weave makes canvas beds moisture resistant and prevents dirt and stains from penetrating the fabric.

The canvas covers on the Canvas Dog Bed and Canvas Bolster Dog Bed you’ll find at Parachute are machine washable, so no matter which style you prefer, keeping your dog’s bed clean is a quick and easy process.

Brush up on why dog beds are such an important feature in your home with our guides, Should Dogs Be Allowed on the Furniture? Why Dogs Need Their Own Beds Instead.

Simple Storage Solutions With Canvas Baskets

Canvas cotton is the perfect addition to a streamlined, elegant and minimalist home design. When you want to stay organized but don’t want to introduce plastic containers or bins to your bathroom shelves or bookcases, Cotton Canvas Storage Bins and Cotton Canvas Floor Baskets are ideal solutions.

Safely and cleanly store out-of-season clothing, extra pillows or heavy blankets out of sight under your bed with Cotton Canvas Underbed Storage bags.

For other ideas about streamlining your storage at home, take a look at our list of 23 Basket Decor and Storage Ideas Around The House.

Canvas Pillow Covers

Add a touch of style to your bed or couch by wrapping a throw pillow in a Pieced Canvas Pillow Cover. With impressive durability, a delightful texture and an easily machine washable material, you’ll wonder why you didn’t add canvas to your home ages ago!

Caring for Your Canvas Fabrics

Caring for canvas fabrics is simple and straightforward. For minor touch-ups, spot cleaning with a damp cloth works beautifully. For stains and heavily soiled fabrics, machine washing your canvas goods will return them back to their original condition. 

To learn about how to care for a range of cotton fabrics, explore our guide: How to Wash, Dry and Care for Organic Cotton Sheets, Towels and Clothes.

Is Canvas Waterproof?

Waterproof canvas is typically made by combining cotton fibers with manmade materials like polyester. If you’re looking for a completely waterproof fabric for use on outdoor furniture, then a blended fabric is your best option.

Though 100% cotton canvas isn’t waterproof, it is extremely water resistant. If you prefer to keep your home and closet filled with all-natural materials, you can still enjoy the water resistant properties of canvas cotton by selecting products with a tighter weave to help repel moisture.

Choose Popular Canvas Cotton Products and Clothing for Lasting Benefits

Throughout the generations, sleepers and shoppers have looked to canvas for a range of benefits, from strength and reliability to simplified cleaning and care. 

Natural cotton is a fantastic choice of material for a range of uses, so whether you’re shopping for a durable new dog bed or a fresh laundry basket, our wide selection of canvas products has you covered.

Parachute knows cotton. In addition to high-quality canvas essentials, we’ve got a selection of the best cotton bed sheet and bath products. Be sure to explore the brushed cotton, organic cotton, and other cotton collections for the ultimate cozy and stylish cotton essentials around the house. 

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