How to Wax Canvas Fabric

Last week I sewed a men’s messenger bag with waxed canvas fabric. Waxed canvas has the look of aged leather, but is much easier to sew. It’s also water repellent, which is great for items that will be used outside often.

Men's Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag | Radiant Home Studio

Though there are a few sources of waxed canvas in the US (you can find a short list recommended by Colette Patterns), I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for at a reasonable price. I remembered seeing a post over on the Thread Theory blog recommending Otter Wax to make your own waxed canvas fabric.

After weighing the options, I decided to try the Otter Wax. It worked exactly as I had hoped! (It’s a pain that I feel like I need to say this, but this is not a sponsored post. I’m just a happy customer, sharing my experience!)

First, let me share a few tips about working with the wax:

Use the suggestions on the website to figure out how much you need. I most likely ignored the estimates, hoping to stretch the limits. I ordered the small size bar and ran out. Thankfully, their shipping is super fast and received the 2nd order in 3 days! I ordered the bigger bar the second time, and have plenty left for another bag or a couple of smaller projects.

How to Wax Canvas Fabric | Radiant Home Studio

Applying the wax is easy, but a bit time consuming for larger projects. I worked in small sections (6″ squares) and took breaks. I decided to apply wax as I was putting the bag together. I wanted to avoid stitching on the waxed fabric as much as possible. The presser foot makes extra marks and if you need to pick out stitches there will be visible marks as well. But I also wanted to wax some of the parts that would have been difficult to reach after the bag was finished, like the insides of the outer pockets. I sewed the outer pocket pieces together, then waxed the entire pocket. I waxed the main outer section of the bag before attaching the pocket, but I did the sides of the bag at the end.

How to Wax Canvas Fabric:

Rub the bar of wax vigorously on the canvas. You need to create a bit of heat from friction to warm up the wax. As you can see, it won’t cover every part of the fabric.

How to Wax Canvas Fabric | Radiant Home Studio

Next, use your fingers to rub the wax and spread it evenly across the fabric.

How to Wax Canvas Fabric | Radiant Home Studio

I tried rubbing in all directions, but I created a smooth finish by rubbing perpendicular to the direction of the wax bar strokes. If body heat and friction aren’t enough to smooth out the wax, you can use a hair dryer to warm it up. I didn’t find that a hair dryer was necessary though.

How to Wax Canvas Fabric | Radiant Home Studio

Just work in small sections, using the corner of the bar to get into the cracks and seams. The wax will stay sticky (and have a distinct smell) for a couple of days while it dries. I recommend letting the wax dry overnight before sewing with your fabric.

You can reapply wax as needed. Just like paint, a second coat will go on smoothly, quickly, and require less wax than the first coat. I expect that a bag would need a fresh coat of wax about a once a year.

What do you think? Will you try waxing your own canvas fabric?

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Teal Myrtle Dress

I bought the Colette Myrtle Dress the week it was released (I think in August…), but just got around to sewing it. This is my first time sewing a Colette pattern. The fit is perfect and I love the finished dress, but I had one major issue with the pattern. I’ll get to that in a few minutes…

Teal Colette Myrtle Dress | Radiant Home Studio

Based on the pattern measurements, I cut and x-small top and graded out to a small in the bottom. Normally I don’t cut an x-small because the underarms end up being too tight. But since my knit was very stretchy, I decided to take a chance. It was the right decision.

I ordered my fabric online, so I didn’t get to feel the weight before buying it. It ended up being a bit more sheer than I hoped. I didn’t make any fit alterations to the pattern, but I did double the fabric and line the entire dress and not just the front bodice. I chose to make the shorter length and, thankfully, I had just enough fabric to squeeze out all of the pattern pieces.

For the back bodice, I stitched the two pieces right sides together at the neck and armholes instead of hemming them as suggested. After that, I just treated them as one piece. I doubled the skirt pieces, and also treated them as one piece. It all worked perfectly and I’m happy that the back bodice has slightly cleaner looking edges.

Teal Colette Myrtle Dress | Radiant Home Studio

As for the problem I mentioned…

I was so disappointed with the amount of paper that was wasted because of the pattern layout and design. As a homeschooling mama of 6 kids, I have to admit we use more than our fair share of paper. We use lots of paper for school and I use paper plates when I’m tired of doing the dishes. But we do try to make as many environmentally friendly choices as possible. One of the main selling points of digital patterns is that they are more eco-friendly. You only print the pattern pieces you need and you can read the directions straight from the screen without printing them.

When the pattern was first released sizes XS-3X were all together. For those needing the smaller sizes, that meant printing the larger sizes too. Within a couple of weeks, they released an update with a separate file for XS-XL which was meant to save paper. It was a good start, but just not enough.

I printed 52 letter sized pages! Just for comparison, April Rhodes’ Staple Dress pattern has 25 pages. The first thing I noticed was that there were large 1 1/2″ margins on each side of the page. The printable margins safely extend much closer to the edge of the page. So my first suggestion is that they need to reformat the block size to print on a larger area of each page.

Wasted Paper from Myrtle Dress Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

Second, there were huge areas of white space between the pattern pieces. When I layout my own patterns, I spend a lot of time rearranging pieces to use the space most efficiently. Colette patterns also sells printed paper patterns, so I believe they probably just used the large format print version chopped into a grid. The problem is that it was designed to be aesthetically pleasing, and not efficient. So, I suggest that they reformat the digital pattern to make better use of the wasted white space.

Wasted Paper from Myrtle Dress Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

Third, and somewhat related, I had 3 pages that printed the frame with nothing inside it! It wasn’t a printing problem, the pages were just blank white space. I highly suggest they remove the blank pages from the file or rearrange the pieces to eliminate the extra space. Besides the completely blank pages, I also had 2-3 that had only tiny corners of larger sizes on them. I also had to discard those pieces. An easy fix would be to list which page numbers should be printed for each size.

Wasted Paper from Myrtle Dress Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

I almost gave up on this pattern before I even started. Trying to tape 50 pages together is nuts. I cried. More pages means less chance of getting the pages aligned correctly, and more chance of ruining your pattern. Just 1/4 inch can make the difference in a whole size! Colette is one of the leading independent pattern companies selling digital patterns and I had high expectations. I really wanted to love them. They nearly lost me as a customer before I even started….but I pushed through hoping it would get better. And I’m glad that I did… I’m so happy with the finished dress, that I can’t completely walk away. 

My conclusion…I would be very reluctant to buy any more digital patterns from Colette patterns unless they reformat the patterns to reduce the amount of paper waste. I believe they could easily eliminate 10-12 pages from the Myrtle Dress pattern by using the margins more effectively and getting rid of all of that white space. If you are hoping to save money by using the digital version, I highly recommend that you just buy the pre-printed paper version and save yourself the wasted paper and tears.

I hope you don’t miss the point here. It’s not just about the paper. Colette Patterns is a leader in the digital sewing pattern world. If their customers walk away frustrated and unsatisfied, they may give up on digital patterns altogether.

I’ve expressed my concern to the staff at Colette Patterns and requested that they consider reformatting the digital patterns. I hope that they respond favorably, as I would love to post a positive update here.

As for the paper…I salvaged as much as I could for the kids to use as drawing paper.

Extra Paper from Printed Sewing Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

Have you used digital patterns from Colette? Is it just the Myrtle dress, or are all of the printable patterns laid out so inefficiently?

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Autumn “Flirting the Issue” Skirt

I stumbled upon Anna Maria Horner’s free “Flirting the Issue” skirt pattern a few weeks ago, and filed it away for later. As the temperature continues to fluctuate, I thought this skirt would be a good transitional piece. I chose this beautiful autumn colored rayon, which can be worn alone or layered in cooler weather.

Autumn "Flirting the Issue" Skirt | Radiant Home Studio

I spent an hour digging through my winter clothes, trying to find the right leggings and sweaters to pair with the skirt and my tall boots. As it turns out, I have very few winter clothes, and nothing that actually matches with this skirt. I tried several things with it, and I’m at a complete loss as to how to style it. All of my ideas just ended up being really unflattering or weirdly matched.

So, here’s the summer version! And since it’s still mostly warm outside, I’ll be wearing it like this anyway.

Autumn "Flirting the Issue" Skirt | Radiant Home Studio

This is a very simple skirt pattern. Just measure your waist, cut rectangles, and sew straight lines. Lots of straight lines. The waistband has four channels for elastic, plus space in between each one. You sew 7 concentric circles around the waistband, so make sure you have an extra bobbin ready!

I also underestimated how long my skirt should be. I thought 18″ would be plenty, especially since I had planned to wear it with leggings. But the skirt sits higher on the waist than most of my other skirts. I also did not account for the length that would be pulled up and out around my curves. I ended up adding another 3″ to the bottom hem to make it a comfortable length. With the seam allowances, I should have cut it at 22″.

Rachel is hosting Selfish Sewing Week on her blog this week, motivating moms to sew something for themselves. You’ll find lots of inspiration and patterns to try as her guest bloggers share the lovely things they’ve made!

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Men’s Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag

I’m really excited about this waxed canvas messenger bag! I rarely sew for my husband, but when the zipper on his laptop bag tore open a couple of weeks ago he requested a new bag.

Men's Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag | Radiant Home Studio

I’ve been hoping to sew something with waxed canvas after seeing Laura’s version of my Retro Rucksack. I have a lot more to say about waxed canvas, so I’m saving it for a separate post. But it’s the perfect fabric choice for a durable men’s bag!

Since I knew I wanted to use the waxed canvas, so I kept that in mind for a couple of weeks while I searched for the right pattern; something masculine and also functional as a daily work bag.

Men's Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag | Radiant Home Studio

I checked out a bag sewing book from the library, Best of Stitch Bags to Sew, which included a men’s messenger bag. The base of the bag was just the right size, and I was intrigued by some of the techie features (buttonholes and channels for USB cords). It had potential, so I decided to work with the base and add a few pockets and more structure.

Men's Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag | Radiant Home Studio

Just to be honest, this pattern was hard! Because of the limited space for illustrations in a craft book, there just weren’t enough pictures and diagrams. The pattern directions were wordy and full of measurements (which happens when there aren’t pattern markings to make things easier), so it took a lot of concentration to figure out where things went. The actual construction is intermediate level, but without detailed illustrations I would only recommend it to experienced bag makers with advanced sewing skills.

Waxed anvas Messenger Bag | Radiant Home Studio

I sewed the exterior pockets as directed. They are just right for phones, pens, and other things you want to access quickly. The pattern did not have any pockets on the inside of the bag, so I added a large slip pocket on one side and an inset zipper pocket on the other side. The slip pocket has a layer of Peltex interfacing for extra support, and is just the right size for a laptop or notebook.

IMG_6045

I used heavy interfacing (Pellon 809) on the entire bag—both the interior and exterior pieces—plus I added another layer of Peltex to the bottom of the bag. The pattern called for velcro closures, but I used one brass magnetic snap in the center of the flap. A metal snap just seemed more professional and finished for a bag with brass buckles and a faux leather look.

Men's Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag | Radiant Home Studio

Though there are a few sources of waxed canvas in the US, I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for at a reasonable price. Morgan at Thread Theory recommended Otter Wax to wax your own fabric. So, that’s what I used. The outer canvas fabric is 10 oz. canvas and the interior is Birch Organic canvas Flight in “mineral”, both ordered from fabric.com. I’m really happy with the results and I will definitely be waxing more items in the future. For those that are curious about how it worked, I’ll be working on a detailed post about the waxed canvas fabric for next week!

How to Wax Canvas Fabric | Radiant Home Studio

I’m also linking up over at Craft Buds for Craft Book Month. Lindsay started Craft Book Month a few years ago, when she realized all of her craft books were gathering dust on the shelf. I’m constantly borrowing craft books from the library, only to return them without having made anything. So check out the other projects people are making and be inspired to dust off your craft books and make something!

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Yoga Pants & Mimi Shirt for Pattern Parcel #5

Pattern Parcel #5 is on sale now! It will be available through Friday, Oct. 3rd.

I loved the Sunki Dress by Figgy’s, but this time I decided to sew up some of the more practical clothes my girls would wear everyday. There is quite a size range—preschool thru tween—included in this bundle. The Sunki dress actually goes up to girls size 16, so I may see if I can make one for myself!

First, I sewed a Mimi Shirt by Filles a Maman.

Mimi Shirt | Radiant Home Studio

Quite honestly, I was very frustrated sewing this top. Just to be clear…it was not the pattern, but my own bad decisions regarding the fabric and interfacing.  I ended up fighting puckering around the neck and waist facings. I used a non-stretch interfacing, but the fabric I needed to sew it to stretched out a little and I couldn’t match up the seams properly. I ended up re-doing the waist facing without interfacing.

But it still looks cute, and I doubt any of my non-sewing friends will notice the puckering…

Mimi Shirt | Radiant Home Studio

I also chose the wrong size, which added to the frustration. I had to shorten the sleeves and the total length. The shoulders also seem a bit wide, but that may be due to the European styling of the clothing. So if I had it to do over again, I’d use a knit interfacing and make it a size smaller. (And I should make it again – See #3 in my list of tips for building your sewing skills.)

On the bright side, I was impressed with the pattern directions and illustrations. Everything is clearly laid out, and you can even choose which sizes to print so that you don’t waste ink! I printed a range of 4 sizes that would fit both of my girls, but I can always go back and print the bigger sizes later. If you happen to speak French, the directions are available in both French and English.

Mimi Shirt | Radiant Home Studio

Second, I made the Greenstyle Yoga Pants. These came together very quickly and easily. I made a size medium and ended up taking the waistband in to a size small after a quick fitting. I wonder if I should have made a small and lengthened them. She said they felt like pajamas and would only wear them around the house. Kids this size are so hard to fit! One day their clothes are too big, and the next day they’ve grown out of them!

GreenStyle Yoga Pants | Pattern Parecel 5 | Radiant Home Studio

I used a twin needle for all the seams, a then serged the raw edges. I think a lot of people just use the serger, but I find that the stitching is not as secure. I almost always stitch with the machine first and use the serger to clean up the edges. So these could definitely be made on a regular machine with a twin needle. ( I have some tips for working with twin needles too…)

Greenstyle Yoga Pants | Twin Needle Stitching | Radiant Home Studio

I also have to recommend the fabric I ordered for these yoga pants. I’ve been searching for a sturdy knit that would make great leggings. This knit (it’s called Largo Knit) has great stretch and recovery and is also thick enough to cover panty lines. It feels like quality knit that won’t pill over time. I plan to order more to make leggings for myself.

Pattern Parcel #5: Choose your own price and support DonorsChoose. Win/win!

Pattern Parcel #5 includes:

 

About Pattern Parcel:

Here at Perfect Pattern Parcel, we believe in supporting independent pattern designers. It’s our opinion that indie patterns are just, well, better than big box patterns, and we’re pretty sure our customers think so too. So, we allow customers to show their support in naming their own price for each Parcel.  We also encourage customers to allocate part of their Parcel price to the charity Donorschoose.org in order to help classrooms in need. Pattern Parcel donates all profits after expenses from Parcel sales to the charity as well. Together we’ve raised $11,000 for classrooms in need.

*Pattern Parcel graciously provided these patterns in exchange for helping them spread the word. All opinions about the patterns are my own, and as always, I love to support independent designers and makers.

If you’d like to see what others are making with these patterns…

Parcel #5 Inspiration Tour Schedule:

Friday, September 19
Pienkel || Cookin’ and Craftin’

Saturday, September 20
Sew Busy Lizzy || The Life Of A Compulsive Crafter

Sunday, September 21
Keep Calm and Carrion || Felt With Love Designs

Monday, September 22
Radiant Home Studio || Sewing Sober

Tuesday, September 23
Sew Fishsticks || La Pantigana || Amanda Rose

Wednesday,September 24
Shawnta Sews || Sprouting JubeJube || Knot Sew Normal

Thursday, September 25
Make It Perfect || Mimi’s Mom || Climbing the Willow

Friday, September 26
Needle and Ted || Our Family Four

Saturday, September 27
Froo & Boo

Sunday, September 28
Stitches by Laura || Vicky Myers creations

Monday, September 29
Cookin’ and Craftin’ || The Crazy Tailor

Tuesday, September 30
mama says sew || FABulous Home Sewn || The Inspired Wren

Wednesday, October 1
lady and the gents || That’s-Sew-Kari || Sewing Sober

Thursday,October 2
Gracious Threads || Blogs Like A Mother || SewsNBows

Friday, October 3
sew chibi || Lulu & Celeste || Made by Sara

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