I am so excited about this Buckthorn Backpack! And glad you guys are loving the pattern! This backpack turned out just how I envisioned and we even got a compliment on it when doing our photo shoot (that’s my daughter by the way in these shots, yes, she’s basically as tall as me now).
I used Fabric Funhouse‘s waxed canvas for this sample, this is the Orion Blue color. I loved working with it! For me, I feel like it’s the perfect weight for this pattern. I lined the backpack with Big Sur canvas in Unbleached and used my webbing, zipper and hardware from my shop.
Oh and I’m publishing a quick little IGTV video of two ways to add leather zipper pulls to your project. I recently added those to my shop as well if you need any.
So, onto more about waxed canvas. Lucky for us waxed canvas is getting easier to find! More and more shops are carrying it. It can be a little tricky navigate what waxed canvas might work the best for you and your particular project, as not all waxed canvases are the same. Because they are made by different manufacturers, you’ll want to pay close attention to their weights and widths. As someone who writes sewing patterns, I give a suggested range of weights that will work. Typically a heavier weight canvas, the stiffer the fabric. Too much stiffness also comes with some disadvantages, it’s a bit trickier to sew. You’ll be doing more ‘wrestling’ with the fabric to get it to move out of the way while you’re sewing your project. A real advantage of waxed canvas is the ability to use it without needing interfacing. I think we all can agree that if we can skip a layer of interfacing and have our project turn out how we like, we can consider that a win! Yard for yard it is more expensive than regular canvas, and I think that’s what some people might overlook when shopping. You can eliminate using interfacing on waxed canvas (unless you’re using a very lightweight waxed canvas), so it ends up being similar in cost to buying canvas plus interfacing. Plus it’s a huge time saver! Less to cut and less time spent at the ironing board.
Also keeping in mind the width, many come in a 54″ width or wider thus getting more bang for you buck! You might want to take a close look at the size pieces you’ll be cutting from the waxed canvas and adjust the yardage you buy accordingly. Unfortunately there’s not a quick fix to figuring this out. But a little bit of math and you’ll be well on your way. Start by looking at the width of each piece you’re cutting and see how many you’ll be able to fit across the width of the fabric, then move on to figuring out the height you’ll need in the same fashion until you’ve accounted for all the pieces you need.
Another couple of notes worth mentioning is that it’s so easy to mark waxed canvas and you won’t need an iron (you’ll actually want to NOT iron it!). You wouldn’t think a thing like saving time marking centers and placement of straps or zippers, but in the end it really adds up! All you need to do is fold! In the case of marking the center of a piece, fold it in half and run your finger up and down the fold and there’s your marking! You won’t need to press your seams with an iron either, just finger press!
Here’s a few more tips that I can pass along from my own experience from working with waxed canvas. If you haven’t worked with waxed canvas before, I hope you give it a try! Waxed canvas is excellent for bag making and is sturdy and durable. I think you’ll love it!
- Because an 8-12 oz. weight waxed canvas is sturdy, there is no need to add interfacing to the waxed canvas pieces.
- Use a large strong needle. I find a denim needle (size 14 or 16) works very well.
- Use polyester thread (because I always have a lot of questions on what thread I use, I’ll link it here, it’s Gutermann Mara 100). Cotton thread will deteriorate over time and will not be as strong on some of the more stressed seams.
- Use caution when pressing. An iron can melt the wax. Instead of using an iron, finger press the seam.
- Double stitch within the seam allowance for extra durability. I sew an additional row of stitching 1/8” away from the actual seam (but within seam allowance)for reinforcement.
- A Teflon foot might be helpful so the waxed canvas doesn’t stick as it’s being fed through your machine.
- Pin holes will be visible. Instead, pin within the seam allowance or use binder clips.
- Take your time when turning pieces right side out. The waxed canvas is stiff, so pull gently and slowly. Wrinkles and creases all add to the distressed and rugged look of waxed canvas. If you’d like, you can use a hair dryer (on a low setting) to help reset the wax.
- Spot clean only.
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!