Waxed Canvas: A Love Story

Waxed Canvas: A Love Story

If you keep up with all of our new product offerings, you may have noticed a lot of waxed canvas crossbody bags being added the last few days. We have become slightly obsessed with this material so it seemed like a good time to give a little background.

Last year, we got a customer request for a makeup bag made out of waxed canvas. We did not offer any waxed canvas at the time. And the reason why? We had never heard of it.

Turns out this soft, durable cotton canvas is quickly on its way to becoming the trendiest material used in bags and accessories. Its popularity has soared largely because of the vegan community discovering it as a fashionable leather alternative. Environmentalists love it for the same reason since methane from cattle farms is considered a significant contributor to global warming. But you don’t need to be making a political statement to enjoy the benefits of waxed canvas.

Waxed canvas was conceptualized by Scottish sailors in the early 15th century who used fish oil and grease to try and water proof their sails. Eventually textile manufacturers took notice and began to produce sailcloth out of lightweight double fold cotton yarns treated with linseed oil. The trouble with linseed oil, however, is that it yellows and eventually loses its waterproof qualities from stiffening and reacting to harsh weather over time.

Eventually, after years of experimenting with various treatments, the Scottish textiles industry found that densely woven cotton impregnated with paraffin waxed coating was an effective, lightweight solution for the sailcloth problem. Sailors all over the world would use it up until the 21st century when synthetic fibers became the generally accepted material used in sail manufacturing.

Luckily, the same things that made waxed canvas an excellent sailcloth for hundreds of years also makes it a fantastic material to use in bags, accessories, and more. Our waxed canvas products get made with an authentic American heritage cloth treated with generations-old formulations of waxes. These waxes impart flexibility at cold temperatures, water repellency, non-transferability, and a high melt point.

What makes us so obsessed with it here, however, is its aesthetic. One of the things you may notice first about a waxed canvas bag is that it never looks exactly the same after each use. That’s because the waxed material produces a marbled look as it gets used. And when you’ve had enough of the marbling, you can use a hair dryer (or leave them in a hot car as we learned) to start all over. It’s an added character that you just don’t get with other materials.

Looking forward, you can expect to see a lot more waxed canvas coming from Sleepy Panda Pieces. Take a look at our current selection of waxed canvas products here and be sure to signup for our mailing list to stay informed of anything new!

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The Sleepy Panda Pieces blog is maintained by the shop owners, Samantha and Brandon Power. If you have any questions or suggestions for the blog please email them to info@sleepypandapieces.com as we would love to hear from you!!