Canvas bags and backpacks can take quite a beating. But, what if you find a rip, tear, or hole in the canvas? How to repair a canvas bag can depend on how the damage occurred. Was the canvas torn by an external source? Or was a hole worn or a seam pulled apart from heavy use? We’ll address both scenarios. Gentlemen, get out your sewing kits.
- Sewing needle
- Thread (fishing line will work)
- Duct tape (if damage is from heavy use or in a high stress/flex area)
Clean the area of the canvas that needs repairing, inside and out. Use a soft bristled brush and/or a wet cloth; if your canvas is waxed canvas, be sure to not use detergent or you’ll break down the wax finish.) Allow the canvas to air dry completely.
If damage is from an external source (i.e. small tear from catching on something) and is in a low-stress area, proceed to step 4.
If you just duct tape the thing, it’s not going to hold up long-term. The adhesive will breakdown or the tape will catch on something, and then you’re right back where you started. That’s why you’re going to use the duct tape as reinforcement (and then stitch it up). First, use your scissors to trim away any loose threads that have been torn from the canvas. Then trim the tape to the size needed to cover the damaged area and still cover about an inch past the damage on every side. Repeat on the inside.
Thread your needle with strong thread or fishing line and tie a knot in the end. If the damage to your bag is a minor tear and you’ve skipped step 3 above, you can simply stitch the edges of the torn canvas using a tight whip stitch. Starting at one end of the tear, push the needle through from the inside of the bag and pull the needle and thread through the canvas. Pull the thread across the tear and insert the needle into the outside of the bag on the other side of the tear and pull the thread through. When pulled tight, this loop-like stitch should begin to close the tear; repeat the stitch along the length of the tear to pull the torn canvas together. At the end, stitch back the other way a few times, tie off the thread on the inside of the bag and trim away any excess.
If you’re repairing a seam or tear that you’ve pulled together and reinforced with duct tape (step 3), you will want to use a straight stitch. About a half inch inside one edge of your tape, push the needle through from the inside of the bag and then back through from the outside; continue weaving the thread in and out of the canvas along the length of the tape, and then make your way back along the opposite edge. (It will look like you are sewing a border just inside the edges of the tape rather than sewing across the tear.) Last, tie off the thread from the inside of the bag and trim away any excess.
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