How To Soften Waxed Canvas - Knowing Fabric (2023)

If you’ve recently purchased a piece of waxed canvas clothing or gear, you may have noticed that the fabric can be stiff and uncomfortable. However, with a bit of effort, you can soften the waxed canvas to make it more pliable and comfortable to wear.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the steps to soften your waxed canvas so that you can enjoy your gear to the fullest.

First, it’s important to understand the properties of waxed canvas. This fabric is made by coating canvas with wax, which gives it a water-resistant and durable finish. However, this wax coating also makes the fabric stiff and can cause it to crack over time.

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By softening the waxed canvas, you can make it more comfortable to wear while still retaining its water-resistant qualities. So, let’s get started on softening your waxed canvas gear!

Table of Contents

Understand the Properties of Waxed Canvas

If you’re looking to soften waxed canvas, it’s essential to understand the unique properties of this durable material. Waxed canvas is a tightly woven cotton fabric that’s been treated with wax to make it water-resistant and durable. The wax gives the fabric a stiff, almost cardboard-like texture that can be challenging to work with, but it’s precisely this stiffness that makes waxed canvas so durable and long-lasting.

One of the characteristics of waxed canvas is that it will soften over time with use. As the wax begins to wear away, the fabric becomes more pliable and comfortable to wear. However, if you don’t want to wait for your waxed canvas jacket or bag to soften naturally, there are several methods you can use to speed up the process.

One way to soften waxed canvas is to use heat. You can do this by using an iron or a hairdryer. Gently heat the fabric, being careful not to overheat or scorch it. Once the wax begins to melt, use a soft cloth to massage the fabric, working the wax deeper into the fibers. Over time, this will help to break down the stiffness of the waxed canvas, making it softer and more pliable.

Wash and Dry the Waxed Canvas

To make your material more pliable, throw it in the washing machine and dryer. This may seem counterintuitive, but it’s an effective way to soften waxed canvas. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.

First, use cold water and a gentle cycle to avoid damaging the fabric. Second, avoid using any detergent or fabric softener as these can strip the wax from the canvas. Finally, make sure to remove the canvas from the washing machine as soon as the cycle is finished to prevent any creasing or wrinkling.

Once you’ve washed your waxed canvas, it’s time to dry it. Again, use a gentle cycle and low heat to avoid damaging the fabric. You can also add a few clean tennis balls or dryer balls to the dryer to help fluff up the material. As the canvas dries, it will start to soften and become more pliable. Remember to check the canvas periodically during the drying process to ensure it’s not overheating or becoming damaged.

After your waxed canvas is dry, it’s ready to use! However, keep in mind that washing and drying can remove some of the wax from the fabric. If you want to maintain the water-resistant properties of the canvas, you may need to reapply wax after washing.

Overall, washing and drying your waxed canvas is a great way to soften it up and make it more comfortable to wear or use. Just be sure to follow the proper care instructions to avoid damaging the fabric.

Use Heat to Soften the Wax

Using heat is a quick and effective way to make your waxed canvas more pliable and comfortable to use. There are a few methods you can use to apply heat to the canvas, but the most common one is to use a hair dryer. Simply point the dryer at the waxed canvas and move it back and forth until the wax starts to melt.

As the wax melts, it will become more pliable and easier to work with. You can then use your hands or a soft cloth to massage the wax into the canvas. Be careful not to apply too much heat or pressure, as this can damage the fabric.

It’s also important to be patient and take your time, as you want to make sure that the wax is evenly distributed throughout the canvas. Once you’ve softened the waxed canvas with heat, you may notice that it has a slightly different texture and appearance. This is normal, and it will often become less noticeable over time as the wax settles into the fabric.

With a little bit of care and attention, you can enjoy your waxed canvas for many years to come, and it will continue to protect you from the elements while looking great.

Apply Heat and Pressure

Applying heat and pressure can alter the texture and appearance of the fabric, so it’s important to be cautious and patient. To start, gather a clothing iron and a pressing cloth. Lay the waxed canvas flat on an ironing board and cover it with the pressing cloth. Set the iron to a low heat setting and gently apply pressure to the cloth, moving the iron in circular motions. Be careful not to press too hard or for too long, as this can damage the fabric.

Another way to apply heat and pressure is to use a hair dryer and a wooden spoon. Lay the waxed canvas flat on a table or other hard surface and cover it with a clean towel. Hold the hair dryer about 6 inches away from the fabric and use it to heat up a small section of the canvas. Once it feels warm to the touch, take the wooden spoon and press it firmly into the fabric, moving it in circular motions. Repeat this process until the entire canvas has been treated.

To give you a better idea of how to soften waxed canvas, here’s a handy table that outlines the different methods we’ve discussed:

MethodTools RequiredProsCons
Heat and IronClothing Iron, Pressing ClothEffective, Easy to ControlCan damage fabric if not done properly
Heat and Wooden SpoonHair Dryer, Wooden SpoonCheap, Easy to DoTakes longer than ironing, Requires more manual labor

Remember, softening waxed canvas takes time and patience. Don’t rush the process or you may end up damaging the fabric. With the right tools and techniques, you can achieve a softer, more pliable texture that’s perfect for creating all kinds of projects.

Rub the Fabric

Gently rubbing the fabric with your hands can help achieve a more supple feel, almost as if the material’s been worn and loved for years. This technique is especially effective for smaller areas or spots that need extra attention.

Start by rubbing the waxed canvas in small circular motions, applying moderate pressure with your fingertips. You may even notice the wax beginning to soften and transfer onto your hands.

As you continue to rub the fabric, pay close attention to any areas that feel stiff or overly coated in wax. Focus on these areas, using your fingertips to work the wax out of the fabric. Be careful not to rub too hard or aggressively, as this can damage the material.

Instead, take your time and work methodically, focusing on each section of the fabric individually. Once you’ve finished rubbing the waxed canvas, step back and assess the results.

You should notice that the fabric feels softer and more malleable, with a more vintage, lived-in look. If there are still areas that feel overly stiff or coated in wax, repeat the rubbing process until you achieve the desired results.

With a little bit of time and patience, you can transform your stiff, unwieldy waxed canvas into a supple, versatile material that’s perfect for a wide range of projects.

Apply a Softening Agent

To achieve a more comfortable feel, you’ll want to treat your waxed canvas with a substance that can break down the wax coating. One option is to use a softening agent like fabric softener or vinegar. Simply dilute the softener with water and apply it to the canvas with a sponge. Use a circular motion to work the solution into the fabric, paying close attention to any areas that feel particularly stiff or rough.

Another option is to use heat to soften the waxed canvas. Lay the fabric out flat and use a hair dryer or heat gun to apply heat evenly across the surface. Be sure to keep the heat moving to avoid scorching the fabric. Once the wax begins to melt, use a clean cloth to wipe away the excess. Repeat the process as needed until the fabric reaches your desired level of softness.

After you’ve applied your softening agent or used heat to melt the wax, be sure to rinse the canvas thoroughly with cold water. Hang it up to dry, making sure to avoid direct sunlight or high heat, which can damage the fabric.

With a little bit of care, you can soften your waxed canvas and enjoy the comfort of a fabric that’s both durable and cozy.

Wear and Use the Fabric

Now that you’ve softened your waxed canvas, it’s time to break it in naturally. Don’t be afraid to wear and use the fabric – the more you use it, the softer and more comfortable it will become.

To maintain its softness, avoid washing it too often and spot clean any stains as soon as possible.

Breaking In the Fabric Naturally

Feeling like your waxed canvas could use a little more character? Letting it break in naturally will give it a unique look and feel. Here are some tips on how to break in your waxed canvas:

  1. Wear it often: The more you wear your waxed canvas, the more it will conform to your body and develop creases and folds that add character.

  2. Get it wet: Dampening the fabric can help soften it and make it more pliable. You could try soaking it in a bathtub or wearing it in the rain.

  3. Scrunch it up: Scrunching the fabric up and manipulating it with your hands can help break down the wax and loosen up the fibers, making it more comfortable to wear.

  4. Use it: The more you use your waxed canvas, the more it will wear down and develop a unique patina that tells the story of its adventures. So don’t be afraid to take it on all your outdoor excursions!

Tips for Maintaining Softness

You’ll want to keep your rugged fabric feeling comfortable and cozy, and to do that, it’s important to make sure you’re taking proper care of it. Here are some tips for maintaining softness in your waxed canvas:

Firstly, avoid washing it too frequently. While you may be tempted to throw it in the washing machine, this can actually cause the wax to break down and leave your fabric feeling stiff. Instead, spot clean it with a damp cloth and mild soap as needed.

If you do need to wash it, hand wash it in cold water and lay it flat to dry.

Secondly, regularly reapply wax to the fabric. Over time, the wax will wear off and cause the fabric to lose its softness. By reapplying it every few months, you can maintain the waxed finish and keep the fabric feeling soft.

Lastly, store your waxed canvas in a cool, dry place. Exposure to heat and moisture can cause the wax to melt and the fabric to become stiff. By properly storing it, you can ensure that your waxed canvas stays soft and comfortable for years to come.

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Entrepreneur / Blogger at Knowing Fabric

Rohan is an entrepreneur and blogger that is an expert on fabrics. He has started and grown numerous businesses in the fabric industry. He is passionate about sharing his knowledge of fabrics with others and helping them find the perfect fabric for their needs. Rohan's blog provides valuable information on a variety of topics related to fabrics, including how to select the right fabric for a project, care for fabrics, and where to find the best deals on fabric.

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