Screen Printing on Cotton Canvas: What Weight Works Best

How does screen printing look on canvas (duck cloth)?

Many Big Duck customers regularly screen print on our cotton canvas duck, and we were curious which canvas looks best when screen printed. So we conducted a test to find out!

We chose a simple feather design with fine lines to print on the different weights of canvas, and printed the same image using the same ink and the same screen on our 7 ounce, 10 ounce, #12, #10, #8, #4, Army Duck and our Preshrunk Organic 10 ounce canvas. See links below to buy these online.

(Note: This is an older post. We’re republishing it as it’s a question that we’re frequently asked!)

We have to admit it, we were pleasantly surprised with the results. All of the various weights of canvas look good, although some do a better job of maintaining fine detail. For example, the screen printed image on the Army Duck produced a really crisp, finely-detailed image. (We love Army Duck for so many projects!) Yet screen printing even on a really heavy material like our #4 (24 ounce) canvas is not out of the question. Nice bold text or images would look great!

The image below, magnified to show detail, shows the test results.

If you’re sourcing your canvas for screen printed goods, its nice to know which canvas is going to best suit your needs and we hope this test helps you in your decision making process.

Screen Print On Canvas Test Results:

Screen Printing on Canvas--Appearance on Different Weights of Duck Cloth at

Canvas for Screen Printing—Buy Online:

Sewing Basics: How To Sew a Simple Tote Bag

I love this sewing project because these simple steps can be used to make a simple market shopper for a high end carryall that you might see featured in a style magazine or pinned a gazillion times.  These steps are also easily built upon to add a zipper, add hardware, add pockets, trims, or any kind of embellishment imaginable!  I don’t want to get hung up on the dimensions because to be honest its a rectangle that I thought looked like a good size.  I cut it out and cut the rest of the rectangles to that same size.  Just remember that whatever size you like, you will loose a little in your seams.  So let’s get started!

Play Tipi Video Tutorial and Dimensions

A few months ago we made a fun video tutorial for a Play Tipi.  The kind of Tipi you would set up for kids or use as party decor.  I used our Sunforger®Army Duck, so it can even battle the elements outside!

Anyway, for those of you who just want some dimensions to get started I listed them out above.  It’s important to remember that these are just basic shapes and you can adjust the dimensions based on the space you have or the materials available to you.  These dimensions were the result of having 12 yards of 60″ wide canvas and 8ft poles available to me.  Of course I wanted to make the biggest Tipi I could.

I have talked to several people about pole options lately and I wanted to share them here.  Round wooden poles at the hardware store will look really nice, but they are not your ONLY option.  You could also use 2x2s!  They are inexpensive and will be just as stable.  Another good option is bamboo if you have it growing in your area.

Its a play Tipi, so have FUN!

Q&A with The Slipcover Maker: Karen Powell


What do you get when you combine a product designer with professional sewing abilities and an extensive understanding of textiles plus 30 year’s experience to back it up? If you are lucky you will get the person who will be doing your next furniture makeover.  This is Karen Powell of The Slipcover Maker.

Karen first learned how to sew back in Junior High Home Ec class “when learning how to sew was serious stuff.” She zipped through her first sewn project: An A-line skirt made with a floral calico print. SHE WAS HOOKED. It’s no wonder that she found her herself working as a designer in the textile industry sourcing materials from all over the world living in Chicago, Paris, New York and San Francisco.

Today she has a thriving business in her home town, Kalamazoo, Michigan specializing in furniture makeovers with her custom slip covers.  Lucky for us, she really enjoys working with cotton canvas, which is how we got to know Karen. I was fortunate enough for her to answer some questions about sewing and her life.  I chose some of the questions to share here.  Thanks Karen!

Q&A With Karen Powell: The Slipcover Maker

AMANDA: What kind of sewing machine do you have?

KAREN: Juki industrial DDL-5550N for my straight stitch work and Juki industrial Serger MO-6714S for seam finish. Both are fabulous for slipcover making!

AMANDA: What is your #1 tip for sewing beginners?

KAREN: Fabric can make or break your sewing project so, get really good at your craft, spend time experimenting with as many types of materials as you can. Become a fabric guru!

AMANDA: What is the easiest fabric to work with for slipcovers?

KAREN: Cotton canvas is at the top of my list of easiest-to-work with fabrics. I like it because it’s such a simple, stable weave that’s super versatile.

AMANDA: Three words to describe Michigan winters?

KAREN: Impressive. Long. Brrrrrrrrrh!

AMANDA: What is your favorite thing about life in Michigan?

KAREN: My friends.

If would like to make a slipcover check out Karen’s 20 Tips for Slipcover Success.

Karen has some great Before and After images on her Pinterest page.  Here is a nice one!

Pre-washing Cotton Canvas Yardage Before Sewing

Pre-washing Canvas and Shrinking

You just got your brand new canvas and it is so smooth and nicely packaged. The last thing you want to do is throw it in the washing machine! In my slip cover video I used preshrunk 10 oz canvas, so I was happy to skip the washing and dive right in to cutting and sewing. When working with the standard 10 oz canvas in natural I expect it to shrink 12-15% after it’s washed and dried. The dyed canvas shrinks a little less, usually about 8%. It is crucial always factor that in when calculating yardage.

So, here you have somewhere in the ballpark of 10 yards or so, give or take depending on your project that needs to go in the washing machine. I usually coil the yardage around evenly in the washer and run TWO wash cycles with warm water, so that the washing fully penetrates the cotton fibers. If you are using our Army Duck, first of all congratulations it makes amazing slipcovers, secondly it will take two cycles just to get the fabric wet! I prefer to dry my canvas on a high heat. I think some people disagree and prefer air dry, but allowing the canvas to dry on high heat should shrink the fabric as much as it will ever shrink. That is a good feeling to have before investing hours of time into a sewing project.

Removing the canvas from the dryer you will notice a tighter weave and softer texture than before. If you choose another drying method your fabric will be more wrinkled and you will require the use of a high pressure steamer iron. It is always great to have a nice iron handy during sewing projects anyway! If you have figured out a great way to handle pre-washing we would love to hear about it.

Year of the Tipi

Authentic Canvas Sunforger Tipis

If you haven’t already noticed there are tipi’s popping up everywhere!  They are being used for kids rooms, wedding decor and for there actual original purpose of shelter and warmth!  This is a trend not just in the US, but all over the world!

If you ever wondered what the really good TiPi fabric is that has that sturdy authentic look, its called Sunforger® Army Duck ! It has several things going for it that make it really the most popular choice for Tipis.  A few weeks ago I got some great photos from Annette of Opua Canvas Auto & Marine Trimmers in New Zealand. She made the TiPi you see below.  I am really impressed,especially after making my own tipi video tutorial. I appreciate her allowing me to share her photos.  Do you see that her TiPi has a campfire inside?  Thankfully, Sunforger is fire retardant!

Authentic Canvas Tipis and Tents