Simple Dyeing Technique : Paint With Dye Video

We get questions everyday about dyeing our cotton canvas. Painting with a thick dye paste is one of my favorite dyeing techniques. A dye paste allows you to control where the dye goes unlike a liquid dye. It only requires few supplies and is simple to do. The dyes and paste I use can be used on any of our cotton canvas fabrics. (not Sunforger, Waxed Canvas or Canvak) In the video I experiment on our #12 Cotton Duck and #4.  Dye paste can be used to screen print with dye as well! You can get crisp detail without the dye bleeding or running. There is so much fun stuff to do with it! We hope you like this quick video.  Check out the links below for specific materials used.

How to Paint or Print with Dye Paste

Here are the links to the materials I use in the video:

PRO PRINT PASTE SH (Dye Thickener)




All About Slipcovers: Top 5 Fabrics with Video Tutorial

best slipcover fabricsWhen it comes to slipcovers, light and natural are still top choices. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a sofa with a busy dated print transformed by a custom slipcover into a clean modern look!

Most of our upholstery fabrics are suitable for a slip cover, but there are a few that always stand out. 10oz and 12oz are the most popular weights by far, and both of them are very easy to sew. Many people like extra weight of the 12oz. It has become more and more popular, especially in the bull denims.

Top 5 Slipcover Fabrics:

1.10oz Preshrunk Natural Canvas
2.12oz Natural Canvas
3.USA 12oz Preshrunk White Bull Denim
4.USA 12oz Natural Bull Denim
5.Closeout Upholstery and Drapery Fabric

How To Video:

Interested in making a slipcover?  Check out our step by step video guide and professional tips from The Slipcover Maker!  Our video shows steps from beginning to end, including how to make your own custom pattern for your sofa.

how-to-make-a-slipcover-video calculating-yardage-for-making-a-slipcover

Use Cotton Army Duck for Slipcovers and Upholstery?

The majority of our fabrics are perfect for slipcovers. Our 10oz fabrics are very popular, our new USA-made fabrics are great, and our 12oz options are becoming more and more popular too. All great options with equally-great results. One fabric that tends to get overlooked for slipcover use is Army Duck. It’s an amazing quality cotton fabric worth considering!


1. Extremely Dense Weave
Army duck has the tightest weave of all of our cotton ducks.  The tigher the weave the less likely moisture and spills will soak in. There is a reason this fabric is used to make shelters and tents.

2. Lifespan
After years of use army duck tent fabric is often re-purposed and sewn into other things. People are using reclaimed army tent canvas for all kinds of accessory items and decor.  This is the same kind of fabric we offer, just brand NEW!  Army Duck is going to hold up well as a slipcover and when you are ready for a new look, the fabric will still be useful.

3. Army Duck Fabric Looks Beautiful Natural or Dyed
Cotton fabric is easy to dye at home using fiber reactive dyes. The tight weave of the army duck allows for the dye to absorb very slowly creating a very soft shade of the chosen color.

4. Army Duck Shrinks LESS
While not preshrunk, Army Duck shrinks less than other cotton ducks. Once again, the tightly woven cotton is an advantage. There is less room for the yarns to draw up because they are already so dense.

5. Great Price
Our 36″ Army Duck and 60″ Army Duck are both available for a fantastic price. And it gets even better when you buy more! Amazing values for such a great performing fabric.

Build Your Own Artist Canvas – Video Guide

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It is one thing to love to paint and make art, it is another to actually be doing it.   One of the biggest obstacles creative people have is the proper setup and materials on hand when there is time and inspiration to create something.  I am all about improvising with whatever you have, but nothing beats pushing paint around on a nice stretched canvas.

It can take some time to get your canvas ready, so if you are going to make one canvas you might as well make several to have around. I like to use 2×2’s to make my frame.  You can have them cut exactly to the lengths you want at the hardware store!

At Big Duck Canvas we carry primed and unprimed canvas.  There are things I like about using both types.   Obvioulsy, primed artist canvas is a huge time saver especially for really large paintings.  Primed is a little more expensive than unprimed, BUT you dont have to buy gesso, so that even outs especially since our primed canvas has THREE coats.  Primed Artist canvas also has a really amazing uniform surface.  If I was selling paintings I would be more comfortable using the Primed Canvas for sure.

If you like to use canvas for other projects besides paintings its nice to have unprimed around along with some gesso.  10oz & 12oz Cotton Ducks are amazing for so many projects including paintings.  Check out the video if you would like to see how I stretch 10oz unprimed canvas.

Dyeing Cotton Binding Tape or Webbing at Home

Just like many of our customers I like to use cotton webbing or a cotton binding tape to trim #4 floor cloths.  For most Etsy sellers or independent designers it doesn’t make financial since to buy thousands of yards in all the colors you need.  A good solution is to buy bulk in natural and dye the colors yourself.  In this video I quickly dye about 30 yards of Natural Cotton webbing a light grey color to use as trim.

Fiber Reactive Dyes are PERFECT for Cotton!

One of the most enjoyable things to do with natural cotton canvas is the dye it!  My personal favorite type of dye for cotton is MX Fiber Reactive Dye.  Companies like Prochemical (east coast) and Dharma Trading (west coast) carry it.  My favorite thing about this dye is that it does not have to be heat activated, so it can easily be done outside without burners.  Fiber Reactive dye also leaves behind less waste than the other dyes.  You might have heard the term “low impact dyes” used to describe a dyed product?  Well, I have actually spent a great deal of time speaking with chemists from both of the companies listed above to be sure of the dyes that term is referencing and the truth is that its just another made up term.  All dyes have impact, even natural dyes that require heavy metals used to mordant (pretreat fibers) to accept the natural dyes.   Fiber Reactive dyes are the most gentle dyes out there that will achieve vibrant colors.   The most important thing is to dispose of your leftover dye bath safely. Both of these companies suggest a few things to go with your MX Dye, but I usually just buy the dye activator and it works great.

If you are looking for a certain result make sure to test and make notes and keep recipes.  I typically don’t ever keep notes because I just get so carried away mixing colors.  You never know what you will get!  Have fun!


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!

Selecting the Best Canvas Fabric for Screen-Printing. A Visual Comparison.

If you’re sourcing your canvas for screen printed goods its nice to know which canvas is going to suit your needs best. For the most part all of our canvas looks very nice with a screen printed image. There are a few that out shine the rest if you are looking for fine line detail.

We compared printing on our 7oz, 10oz, #12, #10, #8, #4, Army Duck, and our Preshrunk Organic 10 oz. We chose a simple feather with fine lines to print on each canvas. These images are magnified to show very close detail. I happen to be a big fan of Army Duck for many uses and I was excited to see how perfect it prints. Screen printing #4 is not out of the question. Nice bold text or images would look great.

Screenprinting Cotton Duck. Which is the best canvas for printing?