40 Tarpaulin Uses

One of the reasons we love tarps is because they’re so versatile. If you buy one for your home, we’re sure you’ll be bringing it out time and time again. Check out some of the creative uses for tarps!

Creative Tarpaulin Uses

Camping

DIY Tarp Tent

  1. You can pitch a tent from your tarp.
  2. Protect the bottom of your tent.
  3. Use as a windbreaker.
  4. Make privacy dividers.
  5. Create shower/restroom area.

Shelter

  1. Keep wood dry.
  2. Animal shelter.
  3. Keep your fire in the rain.
  4. Shade yourself, or your supplies from the sun.
  5. Sleep or protect yourself from weather under DIY shelter.

Activities

  1. Cover supplies.
  2. Make a hammock.
  3. Hunting and fishing gear.
  4. Carry/transport supplies (firewood, food, etc.) around.

Hiking

  1. Create a make-shift picnic or rest area during breaks.
  2. Make a rain poncho.

Survival

  1. Gather water.
  2. Make a floatation device.
  3. Camouflage (with the right color, like olive drab).
  4. Use as a gurney to transport injured individuals.

Home

  1. Use to treat roof leaks.
  2. Use as a ground cover for simple clean-up.
  3. Protect floor while painting.
  4. Warm plants on cold nights.
  5. Use as temporary covers for renovation, construction, and unfinished projects.
  6. Make temporary room divider curtains.
  7. Cover and protect storage.
  8. Protect your carpet while moving.
  9. Cover patio furniture during rain/snow or shade from sun.
  10. Protect bikes from snow/rain/sun.
  11. Equipment and supply cover (sports, construction, garden, wood etc.).
  12. Use instead of a painters drop cloth.
  13. Play space for kids.

Vehicles

  1. Car/truck covers (inside and outside the vehicle).
  2. Boat/yacht covers.
  3. Boat windows.
  4. Boat sail.

Fun

  1. Use on a hot day as a slip-n-slide.
  2. Make your own waterproof bags.
  3. Use for the kid’s fort.

Find Tarps for Every Occasion

Waterproof - Water-resistant - Light- to Heavy-Duty

Your Ultimate Guide to Fabric Care

Fabrics are an investment! We know you want to keep them in pristine condition as long as possible. Just as every fabric has its own purpose, they also have their unique characteristics that need to be considered. Get the tips you need on all types of fabric care with Chicago Canvas & Supply’s ultimate guide.

Fabric Care Tips

We all know the sinking feeling of ruining a fabric, whether it be using the wrong chemical on it or shrinking it to a comical-like size. You can use these fabric care tips to help avoid some common mistakes.

Shrunk your fabric? This is the ultimate guide to fabric care that you need.

1. Do your research.
You have a lot of options. Everybody has a unique situation with different limitations, whether it be budget, space, or certain fabric qualities (waterproof, flame retardant, sound absorbing, etc.). Make sure the fabric you want to buy will best accomplish what you want within your limitations.

2. Get the right fabric for your application.
Many fabrics, like tarps, for example, have several different varieties. You need to make sure you do your due diligence when shopping to ensure what your getting will accomplish what you need.

3. Talk to an expert.
We understand that, with all the fabric choices, finding the right one can be overwhelming. So, why struggle? Talk to a fabric professional about your needs to save time and get the fabric that’s best-suited for your project.

Have a fabric question? We can help.

Fabric Care FAQs

After being in business for over 75 years, we’ve pretty much heard it all. We’ve put together some of our top fabric FAQs to help your project go off without a hitch.

What’s the right way to store fabric?

Store fabric is a dry, cool place and avoid storing in direct sunlight. Always ensure fabric is dry before putting it away.

Which fabrics shrink?

Cotton, flannel, wool, linen and silk will shrink, so always wash these in cold water.  Synthetic (acrylic, polyester, nylon, spandex) and tight-knit fabrics are less likely to shrink.

Can I wash this?

  • Do you wash fabric before sewing? It’s recommended to pre-wash all fabric before sewing, especially if you’re using multiple fabrics. A yard of fabric may shrink up to half an inch, so keep that in mind when ordering.
  • How can I pre-wash my fabric? Get the specific washing instructions for your fabric.
  • Can I wash synthetic fabrics? Yes; Machine-wash synthetic fabrics in warm water with mild detergent.
  • Can I wash muslin? Yes, at home with cold water and mild detergent. You will get creases after.
  • Can I wash drop cloth? Many opt to wash and bleach their painters drop cloth before use to loosen up the stiffness of the fabric. Find out how here: Dropcloth Upholstery 101
  • Can I wash wool? Treat wool with care. It’s known to shrink even more than cotton, and even after multiple washes. You can wash wool by hand and let it air dry. It’s best to take fine wool fabric to the dry cleaner.
  • Can I wash linen? Yes, you can wash linen in your washing machine, but expect wrinkles.
  • Can I wash rayon? Rayon can be hand washed with cold water and mild detergent or taken to the dry cleaner.

Don't order your fabric without reading this.

What’s the best way to clean tarps?

Vinyl, poly and canvas tarps can be hosed down. For tough stains, add some vinegar or mild detergent and clean with a sponge or scrub brush.

Learn more about the best way to clean tarps here: Tarp Repair Maintenance Tips

Can I iron my fabric?

Usually, it’s recommended to iron your fabric to ensure everything is neat and tidy for what you’re doing.

Need to know the right temperature? Thespruce.com has some tips you can refer to.

Which cleaners can I use?

Some stains require chemicals to remove. Always be sure check to see if the cleaner you want to use doesn’t have bleach. The milder the solution, the better.

Will the color bleed/fade?

Fabrics usually fade when they’re exposed to sunlight/heat, washed too much, or treated roughly. Color bleeding usually happens when the fabric has been washed in water that’s too hot. So if you’re worried, wash in cold water.

Have a unique project?

How to Choose Your Portrait Background

When we think of good photographs, we usually defer to the lighting, shadows, the emotion it evokes, and so on. But the background of your photo is what pulls everything together, with the ability to enhance or detract from some of your photos best qualities. To find out which fabrics to consider for portrait backgrounds, keep reading.

What to Consider Before Choosing a Photography Backdrop

The background of your portrait or studio photo helps draw attention to the subject. That being said, a backdrop can really make or break a photo. When it comes to choosing the best portrait background for your shoot, here are a few things to consider:

  • Fabric size and weight: Something that’s too heavy or bulky isn’t ideal. What’s going to be easy to carry around?
  • Location: Your fabric size and weight must accommodate your location. Will you be inside or outside? How much room will you have? Will it be windy? Will there be humidity? All of this may have an effect on your fabric.
  • Your subject: Are you shooting a person, or an object? Product photography requires clean backgrounds. You can get more creative with texture if your subject is a person. When shooting people, your background works to add emotion and context to what you’re trying to convey.
  • Color and texture: Remember to emphasize, not draw attention away from, the subject. Your fabric’s color and texture will help create the look and feel you want for your photo shoot.
  • Lighting: Your lighting technique will vary between dark and light backgrounds. Understand your fabric’s light reflecting qualities beforehand!
  • Budget: Are you looking for a short-term fix or a long-term reusable solution?

 

Muslin Backdrop

Muslin is a finely-woven cotton fabric with multiple uses. Used heavily within photography and set design, muslin is a favorite among creatives for its versatility, light weight and flat, “clothy” effect and feel. The durability of the fabric helps too (it won’t rip like vinyl or paper).  Muslin can be hung as a solid backdrop, or easily draped over chairs or other items.

 Why Muslin?

  • Non-reflective cotton absorbs light
  • Light weight; portable and compact
  • Durable and reusable
  • Washable; can be steamed and ironed
  • Versatile; different styles and colors
  • Less expensive than canvas

Canvas Backdrop

Some photographers want a heavier background, in which case canvas would be a good choice. Canvas backdrops provide a high-quality look for clients. However, if your project has tight budget or weight/portability restrictions, we would recommend muslin, vinyl or paper instead.

Why Canvas?

  • Professional look
  • Compact
  • Durable and reusable
  • Doesn’t wrinkle like muslin
  • Versatile; different styles and colors

Two Backdrops for the Price of One

Quick Guide: What is Velour?

If you have an upcoming theater production coming up, you’re probably debating which theater fabrics you’ll need. We understand that every production, team and budget is different. But if there’s one fabric we recommend to any size theater, it’s velour. What is velour? Keep reading to find out.

 

What is Velour?

Velour is a knit, napped fabric that’s memorable for its lush feel. Velour gets its signature soft feel from what’s called a pile knit texture (which comes from a weaving process where the loops are cut off at the end).
In the theater industry, velour is beloved for its rich luster, fabric durability and clean appearance. Velour fabric can be made from cotton or synthetic material, and has a range of qualities depending on the weight and type chosen.

 

Difference Between Velvet and Velour

Velour is not to be confused with velvet. Although similar, velour is a pile knit fabric, whereas velvet is a pile weave fabric (yarns are looped into one direction). The difference? Velvet is a lot softer and more luxurious, but also more delicate and better suited for lighter applications like clothing.

Velour Stage Curtains

Velour is a tried-and-true theater fabric. Known for its light-absorbing qualities, velour is most commonly used as stage curtains.

Uses for Velour Stage Curtains

Velour fabric is super durable and versatile in use. Plus, the crush fabric looks great, making it a smart investment for small to large theaters.  Any high school, college, church, community or national theater can use flame-retardant velour fabric for:

  • Professional looking stage curtains
  • Acoustical sound absorption
  • Pole and drape applications
  • Mid-sized main settings
  • Cyclorama curtains
  • Theater backdrops
  • Stage borders
  • Stage skirting
  • Upholstery

Black Velour Fabric

Example of black velour curtains - customer photo
Black Velour Fabric (Customer Photo)

Choose from many weights, naps, colors and styles!

Comparing Stage Curtains

If you’re looking to get some stage curtains for your production, this chart will help you compare the many fabric options you have:

FR Fabric Weight Light absorbing Wrinkle-resistant Opacity Sound absorbing
Duvetyn FR Cotton 12 oz. X
Commando Cloth FR Cotton 16 oz. X
Encore Velour IFR Polyester 15 – 22 oz. X X X
Sound Absorbing Material FR Cotton 20 oz. X X X
Marvel Velour FR Cotton 21 oz. X X X

Top Fabrics for Theater Production Budget

Don’t Forget These Line Items in This Year’s Theatre Budget!

Another new year, is here which means it’s time to take a close look at your theatre production budget. According to a National Arts Journalism Program study on theatre budgets, physical production costs can make up 10-20% of your production budget, depending on the size. We know that you want to equip yourself with the best materials for your productions, but also want to stay within your budget. Whether you’re a school, church, community organization or professional theatre, we’ve got some tips to help plan the fabric line items of your theater production budget. Let’s get started on making the most out of your budget!  Read more

GG Knows – A Dictionary of Textile Terms

Meet GG, one of the beloved founders of Chicago Canvas & Supply. Although she’s no longer with us, her vast knowledge of industry terminology lives on in this textile dictionary! Each month, we’ll pull from GG’s personal collection of terms—don’t miss out by subscribing to our blog over on the right-hand side of this webpage.

Ready to learn something new? Let’s get started!
Read more

Drop Cloth Upholstery 101

Drop cloth is a versatile fabric that can be used for countless home and DIY projects. But did you know that painter’s drop cloth is also an ideal fabric for upholstery? We’ll show you why drop cloth upholstery has been so popular over the past few years, plus offer a few ways to upholster your furniture at home.

Why Use Drop Cloth for Upholstery?

So, with all the fabric choices out there, why use a drop cloth for your upholstery project? There are a ton of reasons why drop cloth is a great fabric, but here are just a few:

  • Very affordable
  • Durable cotton material
  • Good for beginners and for practice
  • Fabric comes with selvage edge (saving time on hemming)
  • Neutral color will fit many styles of room décor
  • Fabric can be painted on or dyed to desired shade
DIY Drop Cloth Upholstery - Customer Photo
Customer photo via Sandy Welsh

Convinced? Great! If you’re ready to purchase quality fabric for drop cloth upholstery, we recommend our 8-oz. cotton canvas drop cloths.

How to Prepare Drop Cloth for Upholstery

You can prepare your drop cloth for upholstery in 3 steps:

1. Soak fabric in a mixture of bleach + hot water + hydrogen peroxide for a few hours.
The hydrogen peroxide helps neutralize the bleach so it doesn’t ruin the fabric. Thecruxdesign.com recommends a 1:10 hydrogen peroxide and water ratio. About 2 cups of bleach should do it.

2. Wash in washer with hot water + laundry detergent, then dry.
Washing with laundry detergent helps soften the fabric. Plus, because canvas drop cloths are 100% cotton, you need to wash/dry to preshrink the material prior to cutting.

3. Iron the fabric.
This prevents wrinkling and helps for a neat-and-tidy end result.

 

DIY Drop Cloth Upholstery

There are several different methods of using drop cloth to “make over” furniture. You could either upholster your furniture or make a slipcover for it.

Tools to Upholster Furniture

Here’s what you’ll need for your drop cloth upholstery project (via HH&TW blog):

  • 8 oz. canvas drop cloth
  • Cardboard
  • Double-sided tape
  • Hot glue gun
  • Pliers
  • Staple gun with staples
  • Scissors
  • Screwdriver (flathead)
  • Upholstery tacks
  • Upholstery needles and thread
Chicago Canvas Drop Cloth Upholstery
Chicago Canvas Drop Cloths

Let us know how your projects go in the comments below. Have tips on drop cloth upholstery, or your own tried-and-true tutorial you’d like to share? We’d love to know! Email us your tutorials for a chance to be featured on our blog: email@chicagocanvas.com

Happy DIY!

What is a Cyclorama?

Here’s Everything you need to Know

Cycloramas are used in virtually every form of theater, television, media, broadcast media, and photography productions. If you want to create an illusion of a sky, open space, distance, or simply add special effects to your set, creating a cyclorama is key to achieving the illusion. Whether you are a veteran set designer or just starting in the industry knowing how cycloramas work can be extremely beneficial to your set design productions. Follow along on our blog post as we breakdown the basics of cycloramas.

Read more

CCS Teams up with National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Chicago Canvas & Supply is proud to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation for breast cancer awareness month. Throughout the month of October, CCS will be running a promotion to help spread awareness for breast cancer research, prevention, and education. 10% of all sale proceeds will be donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. This cause is extremely important to Chicago Canvas and Supply, and we are honored to be able to support awareness efforts.
Read more