Canvas fabric duck cloth is a staple textile used in limitless applications and products. Cotton duck canvas has a rich history that extends well into ancient times. From nautical uses like sails to convenient, eco-friendly tote bags, canvas fabric finds its way into all day-to-day uses, and has for thousands of years!
Canvas is also known as “cotton duck,” and comes in a wide variety of weights. Often times, cotton duck is measured in ounces; other times it can be given/ assigned a number that represents the actual weight. Numbered ducks are readily utilized for more heavy duty applications, such as in the production of tarps, tents, drop cloths, work cloths and clothes, ceramics work surfaces and artist’s canvasses.
If a canvas only has a weight and not a number, that simply means that it’s a lighter weight single fill duck, and which are consistently used for bags, slip covers, crafts, jackets, liners, and so much more. The weighted cotton duck – such as 7 ounce and 10 ounce – are more flexible and come in a wide variety of colors.
Cotton duck canvas is a widely popular fabric that is versatile and cost effective. If you’re looking for a durable, well rounded textile, canvas works best for any sort of use, as the many weights of this textile provide a near unlimited array of uses. Learn more about the roots of canvas as a textile and how it will benefit your next project.
Canvas Fabric Cotton Duck in History
Duck canvas fabric, made from cotton fibers as previously mentioned, is an old textile. The term “duck” in cotton duck canvas derives from the Dutch word “doek”, which referred to a heavier linen variety of cloth. The Dutch weren’t the first group to utilize canvas, however.
The first uses of canvas, while murky, date back to around 3,000 BC in China. The Chinese first used canvas by processing hemp or jute to construct this fabric and from there, a number of items like sails, shelters, backpacks and more were crafted.
The use of canvas fabric spread throughout the world. Many countries across Europe and Asia utilized canvas for all sorts of applications. The use of canvas wasn’t restricted to class either.
Duck canvas became used by all. From the lower class to the affluent, canvas applications found their use with anyone. From coverings to richly painted tapestries, canvas cloth was the best fabric for every sort of task.
Canvas eventually evolved to cotton fibers throughout time. Cotton allowed for duck canvas to become even more versatile. This natural fiber was sturdy and was known and heralded to stand up to any challenges.
Overall, canvas’ place in history is well suited. With the textile’s ability to conform for so many situations and applications, it’s no wonder it’s one of the most used fabrics in the world.
Building Fibers into Canvas
Cotton duck canvas is a woven fabric. This means that once the fibers become processed, they’re woven to form the fabric itself. For duck canvas, this starts at it’s fiber: cotton.
Cotton is a plant that is grown in warm climates. If you look below the world’s equator line, most countries or states below that line are able to grow cotton. Cotton is able to grow perennially but is typically grown annually as it attracts large amounts of pests and insects.
When cotton matures, and it’s picked, it’s sent to a mill for processing. The first step is to remove any excess moisture from the cotton. It’s then combed to remove all impurities from the cotton itself, known as carding.
Once carded, it’s sent to various mills depending on its finished product. For textiles, it’s turned into yarn. The yarn will go through weaving.
The weave itself depends on the finished textile as well. Based on what sort of cotton duck canvas is being made will depend on how it is woven.
Overall, canvas fabric starts off by growing in a field. For cotton duck canvas, this means that its fibers derive from all natural cotton. This fiber attributes to its strength and overall stability.
Cotton Duck Canvas Weave Styles
Typically, cotton duck canvas becomes weaved based on its style. The various styles of canvas fabric allow for two main styles of weaving: the plain weave and oxford weave.
Firstly, there are two main yarn strands used for weaving. Those strands are aptly named the weft and the warp. The weft strand runs width-wise, while the warp strand runs lengthwise.
In a plain weave, the the weft strand weaves over and under each warp strand. The weft strand alternates each row when woven. The plain weave is usually utilized for most cotton duck canvas applications.
In an oxford (also known as half basket) weave, two or more warp strands become interwoven between two or more weft strands. This weave lends itself to garments, shoes, and other items.
As stated earlier, cotton duck canvas attributes its weave to the style of textile produced. Some canvas styles are:
Army Duck Canvas Fabric: 10 oz & 15 oz. plain weave canvas, generally made with two ply yarns. The yarns themselves are more fine than numbered canvas fabric or Sunforger duck canvas and woven tighter.
Sunforger Canvas Fabric: Variably weighted cotton duck canvas that is similarly woven to army duck canvas. This offering has a tighter weave and is made with two ply yarns.
Numbered Duck Canvas Fabric: With attention to heavier plain weave fabric, this canvas made with plied yarns weighs anywhere from 12 to 32 oz/sq. Yard.
These and other styles of canvas make up an impressive offering for cotton duck canvas overall.
Canvas Finishing Options
Cotton duck canvas is able to come finished in a variety of options. Some different finishes for canvas fabric are:
Water Repellent: A repellent treatment lets the textile to repel water but does not make it completely waterproof. This is ideal for travel totes and other projects where you want to keep moisture at bay.
Waterproof: Waterproofing will keep leakage and wetting away even under a heavy shower. This is perfect for things that may become submerged or over flanked by water.
Mold and Mildew: This finish will prevent the growth of mold or fungus on cellulosic and protein-based textiles. Mold and mildew are commonly known to damage synthetic fibers over their natural counterparts.
Flame-Retardant: Canvas fabric is made flame retardant by adding chemicals to the spinning solution when the fiber is made or by applying a chemical to the fabric. As canvas is a durable textile that can withstand up to 50 washes or more, the hand and texture of the canvas will remain the same.
These and other options make cotton duck canvas fabric ideal for so many different uses.
Canvas Weight Chart
Basic duck canvas fabric weaves:
Cotton Duck Canvas: Numbered Classifications
Cotton duck canvas received classifications all the way back in 1924! These classifications, given once various styles and weights of canvas became tested, determined what their best uses would be for.
As mentioned, numbered duck canvas exists because of this study. It’s given the name numbered duck canvas because each classification aligns itself to a number. This number gives the canvas a specific weight and list of possible uses for the canvas fabric.
For example, let’s consider #12 cotton duck canvas. #12 canvas refers to 11.5 oz canvas per square yard. This canvas considers itself a lighter weighted option compared to other numbered canvas.
#12 cotton duck canvas works well for applications like clothing or artist canvas. If you wanted something more heavy-duty however, #4 cotton duck canvas weighs in at 24 oz. and is perfect for industrial coverings.
The canvas fabric classifications help their user pick the best canvas for their needs. Whether you’re making projects at home with canvas or rely on the fabric for professional use, the numbered classifications add clarity for what you’ll need for a successful application.
Cotton Duck Canvas vs. Synthetic Textiles
Cotton duck canvas is the natural option for fabric versus other options like nylon or polyester. While there are synthetically blended canvas styles, typically canvas fabric stands on its own made from cotton. Which is better suited for your needs?
The answer truly lies in your use. Canvas made from cotton processes with all natural fibers. It boasts great durability and long lasting properties based on the cotton fibers themselves. Synthetically made fibers offer a different perspective altogether.
Synthetically made fibers were first introduced in the late 1800’s. Once discovered that certain materials could become transformed into fabric, companies like DuPont manufactured many forms of fabrics for all sorts of uses, including fabrics like nylon.
Synthetic textiles are great for many different applications from garments to tactical gear. These fabrics are typically stretchy and long lasting. Their benefits are not very different from cotton duck canvas itself.
Synthetic fabrics are also inherently flame retardant (IFR). Fabrics like polyester have chemical compounds that assist in the flame retardancy of its overall structure. This means that the fabric doesn’t have to go through a chemical finishing process or coating to be flame resistant.
While cotton duck canvas is long lasting, fabrics like nylon last longer due to their chemical properties. Being that cotton is all natural, it decays faster than a chemically made counterpart. Either way, both synthetic materials like nylon and natural ones like cotton last as long as you care for them appropriately.
Canvas for Art
While canvas fabric plays many roles, arguably its most important is the one it plays for the art world. Canvas fabric lent itself to the arts roughly at the beginning of the 13th century. It was widely used in marine applications, and then sought after once painters realized it worked perfectly to create art upon.
There’s a wide array of canvas used for art canvas today. From lightweight, 7 oz. varieties of canvas to the typical #12 cotton duck canvas for art canvas, all forms of traditional canvas work for painting. Whether you’re creating floor cover and want to add pizazz or are stretching canvas over a wooden frame to hang your work, all sorts of canvas is suitable!
The canvas offered at Canvas ETC. comes in primed and unprimed varieties. Our primed canvas comes coated with gesso, while our unprimed canvas is raw canvas fabric. Gesso is a commonly known primer used to lock the fibers of the cotton duck canvas so that the paint doesn’t seap too deeply into the medium.
Our canvas works well for all sorts of artists. From oils to acrylics or mixed media, you can play atop the canvas in whichever way suits you best. All types of art supplies work well for both our primed and unprimed varieties.
Overall, canvas has become a staple in the art community for a long time. It’s versatility of use makes cotton duck canvas great for those with creative endeavors.
Canvas in Marine Applications
Almost as long as canvas fabric has been in use, it’s been utilized in marine applications. One of cotton duck canvas’ first uses were for sails on ships. It was also used for covering important cargo for long sea journeys.
Now, canvas still works wonderfully for many marine uses. Used mostly for boat coverings, marine style canvas like Sunforger canvas and army duck canvas come equipped with mildew resistance and protection against UV rays.
Certain styles of canvas go through chemical finishing processes so that they’re able to find use out on the water. Marine canvas becomes coated in protective wax like Canvak. Canvak is a water repellency solution that revitalizes your canvas’ water protective properties.
While there are those that argue that synthetic materials are best for marine use, canvas fabric has been tried and true. Synthetic materials usually come packed with UV and mildew resistance based on their chemical compounds, but cotton duck canvas fabric has stood the test of harsh conditions you’d find at sea.
Overall, marine canvas plays a large part in why canvas fabric works for so many things. It’s versatility allows you to use canvas for all sorts of practical uses. From your boat to your home, canvas fabric can play an assistive role in all your projects.
Cotton Duck Canvas: Interesting Uses
As we now know, cotton duck canvas fabric has uses for all sorts of projects and applications. From art to sailing, cotton duck canvas is great for a number of things, including:
Tents: When outdoor shelters were first introduced, things like animal pelts became utilized. Throughout time and with the creation of canvas fabric, shelters like tents were eventually made with canvas. Canvas fabric stands tough against all sorts of weather and when coated in protective solutions like wax, will maintain water repellency making canvas great for outdoor use.
Bags: It’s no surprise that canvas fabric is perfect for all styles of bags. From backpacks to large duffel bags, its strength and high tensile properties make cotton duck canvas fabric ideal for travel luggage. You can personalize your bags by painting or designing on top of the canvas fabric, adding a personalized twist!
Games: Cotton duck canvas fabric is a great option when creating games the whole family can enjoy! For example, the game Cornhole has bags that are traditionally made with canvas fabric. Make some of your own or invent a new game for your next gathering with our canvas fabric offerings.
Upholstery: Breathing life into old furniture is no small feat. If you’re looking for your furniture to stand the test of time, why not upholster it with sturdy canvas fabric? You can also do the same with your outdoor furniture! If you are looking for thata ideal pattern or design for upholstery fabric, perhaps consider exploring the many designs and fabric types by clicking-thru here.
These uses and more make our canvas offerings one to covet! Enjoy all of the great benefits to using cotton duck canvas fabric with our large selection right at your fingertips. Fabric swatches sample books can always be selected and ordered; click here to begin your search.
Canvas ETC.’s Canvas Offerings
Like our name implies, we’re one of the largest suppliers of cotton duck canvas! We pride ourselves in our expert, premium canvas selections for all of your needs.
From building a tent to making totes, there’s nothing our canvas offerings can’t do! We offer competitive pricing as well as wholesaling options for those who require a large amount of canvas.
Not sure which canvas offering will work best for what you’re working on? We’re here to help. Contact us today and one of our canvas experts will assist you by finding the best cotton duck canvas you’ll need for your next project.