Knowledge Traditionally made from coarse cotton and linen yarns, canvas fabrics were used for tents and boat sails and later became popular in workwear.
A durable and tear-resistant fabric with considerable strength, canvas is typically made from unbleached cotton or linen. The fabric is a plain weave with a slightly ribbed surface, woven with a single weft yarn over a double warp. The term originates from ‘cannabis’, the Latin word for ‘hemp’, which was the material used for the earliest canvas fabrics. The fabric is naturally water-resistant and has traditionally been used for utilitarian items such as tents and boat sails. In the 1940s and ‘50s, it also became popular for use in workwear, shoes, and for bags and packs. Canvas is sometimes used interchangeably with cotton duck (from the Dutch word ‘doek’, meaning ‘linen canvas’), which is a similar but more heavyweight fabric made from coarser yarns, also used for sails and sailor’s clothing.