Tag Archives: waxed canvas

Sewing without fitting: the Cooper Bag


This was a really fun project for me, and one I’m pretty proud of. In addition to the fact that this is the first bag I’ve made (besides a basic tote), I’ve been feeling down about the quality of my sewing lately; fitting issues… zipper woes, etc, and this project really helped me get back to basics & focusing on improving quality of the basic skills, while still challenging me with learning new skills.

One of the main new skills I learned was working with waxed canvas. I couldn’t find any pre-waxed in the colours I wanted so I decided to wax my own. It was fun – time consuming but worth the time & effort; I used a particularly heavy washed canvas and I thought it was really cool how the thick, stiff canvas changed colour & became more supple once cured.

Working with this very thick fabric was a challenge in itself. My machine is a trooper – it handled 4 layers fine, but as soon as there was more, or a thick ridge (which happened often) it needed help. There was a lot of hand cranking and I went through 3 denim needles in the process lol.

Another thing I learned is that you can’t press waxed canvas, even from the inside; I was gentle & used a press cloth & low heat but the waxed surface blotched & I had to re-treat that area; afterwards I pressed using pressure only; only heat from my hands and in cases with thick seams, I used a hammer to pound seams flat or open.

I’ve worked with some hardware before (boning, belts, eyelets, etc) but this time I got to install rivets & magnetic snaps too, as well as assemble the bag strap using sliders. I find working with hardware in conjunction with sewing oddly VERY satisfying!! so that was fun 🙂

I reinforced the straps with a double pass of zigzag stitching because I find those tend to go first on my bags – I must carry a lot of heavy stuff! lol

Shot of inside:


I’ll be using this for my carry-on on my upcoming trip so I’ll get action shots while we’re in transit – for next time! 🙂