Can a Tarp Be Recycled?

After a lot of use, your tarp is worn, faded, or damaged. You need to dispose of it. You wonder can you recycle a tarp? You may end up having to find your city or town’s recycling guide for a firm answer. Each city or town is a little different. A great resource for finding a place to recycle your tarp is a recycling search tool called RecycleNation. However if your home is in Chicago, we can help you out with more info on recycling tarps as well as some great ways to repurpose tarps.

A Guide to Chicago’s Blue Cart Program

In Chicago, only plastics #1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 can be recycled. Any plastic that is not identified with a number or is #6 must go into the trash. Tarps fall into the “trash it” category as it is rare for them to be stamped with one specific number.

If you search the national database Earth911, as the City of Chicago recommends, to see who may take used tarps, expect to find no results. No companies or organizations accept tarps according to that site.

You will have to toss your tarp into the trash. In the City of Chicago, bag the tarp with your other trash and put it into your curbside trash container.

Ways to Repurpose an Old or Unwanted Tarp

What if you really don’t want to toss an entire tarp in the trash? It’s understandable. While that tarp is no longer serving its original purpose, it doesn’t mean it’s useless. Repurposing an old tarp is one way to keep it from filling up your trash. Try out our handy ways to reuse a tarp.

1. Raised Bed Gardening

Do you garden? If you’ve ever thought about gardening or love to garden, raised beds make it easier to avoid excessive weeds and insect pests. Cut the unwanted tarp to fit the bottom of the raised bed. It will help kill the weeds and grass below your garden area. If you’re worried about water building up and causing root rot, a layer of crushed stone and sand will help with drainage.

2. Sandbox Bottom

Secure a section of the trimmed tarp to the bottom of a child’s sandbox. It will deter ants from trying to turn the sandbox into their home. The tarp will also keep grass and weeds from growing into the sandbox.

3. Sun Shade

Speaking of sandboxes, how about taking a smaller section of tarp and attaching each corner to four bamboo poles. You’ll find these poles in garden supplies or home improvement stores. Place that tarp over a sandbox or child’s pool to keep children from getting too much sun.

4. Waterproof Pillows

How much of the tarp is in good shape? If there are sections that are okay, cut those areas into squares of equal size. Sew two squares together on three sides. Turn the material inside out and fill with material like foam beads or polyfill stuffing. Sew up the remaining side. You have a waterproof pillow for your outdoor deck or patio furniture.

5. Charcoal Grill or  Patio Fire Pit Cover

Take your large tarp and cut it down to fit over an outdoor patio fire pit or charcoal grill. In between uses, your fire pit or grill stays dry. When it’s time for your next fire, everything is dry and kindling will ignite quickly. You also help prevent rust.

6. Firewood Tote

Take a strip of canvas. Aim for a strip that’s about 4 by 3 feet. Sew all of the edges and add handles on each shorter end using a thick section of rope. When you’re carrying in firewood, you have a log carrier that is durable and easy to use.

7. Fall/Winter Shrub Protectors

Do you have any shrubs that are close to the road? Salt and sand during the winter can damage trees and shrubs. Use old tarps to cover them and protect them from winter damage.

Donate the Tarp

Could someone else use the tarp? Post an add in a community forum, Craigslist, or on social media. Ask area schools if they could use it for student craft projects. You’d be surprised how many people can take a worn tarp and put it to good use.

Some of the places you can call to see if they need tarps are paint contractors. Tarps make great drop cloths. You can check with local daycares if they need used tarps to create shady areas. Ask at local farms, too. Gardeners often need tarps to cover seedlings during an unexpected frost.

Make Sure the Tarp You Buy is Built to Last

The best way to keep tarps from filling up landfills is by making sure you get a high-quality tarp that will last a long time. Chicago Canvas & Supply sells many tarps using different materials. We have canvas, clear PVC, Iron Horse polyester, mesh, poly, and vinyl tarps. Call us to learn more or complete the online form to get a custom quote.

10 Ways to Use Muslin Fabric

Muslin fabric has long been a fabric of choice due to its multiple uses. Muslin is a lightweight, woven, (highly) breathable cotton fabric. It is not as coarse or as heavy as a canvas fabric, for example, although it does come in a wide range of weights (delicate to coarse) . It comes in a variety of colors such as natural, bleached white, black, etc., as well as unbleached and free of dye. Muslin can be sold both as a flame retardant or non-flame retardant fabric, and in varying sizes, too. Whether heavy or lightweight, you can find the muslin that is right for your project or needs!

A wonderful way to purchase muslin is when it is 100% cotton and unbleached or dyed. This allows you to start with a base of a neutral color (off white or cream) to style and design for your particular desired use. It’s neutrality as well as it’s durability makes it more versatile for uses across professional or commercial industries, as well as for personal use at home.

How To Use Muslin Fabric

  1. Theater – Muslin has long been one of the most popular fabrics used in the theater. It’s widely used for set designs, stage flats, backgrounds and props, for example.
  2. Quilting – Muslin fabric can be used as the back of a quilt or even for the entire quilting project itself. The neutral color of the undyed fabric is great on its own, and a good starting point if you want to dye or add patterns and color to the fabric.
  3. Clothing – Due to the lightweight and breathable nature of the fabric itself, a set of pants and shirt that you could wear in the summertime or to the beach are an excellent match. Imagine how lightweight and comfortable linen is, and not only is it breathable but also protects from the sun.
  4. Upholstery – Use this fabric for an upholstery project. You could use it for a cover for a piece of furniture such as a sofa, or the cover of the seat of a dining room chair, or an armchair. The natural lighter color of the fabric could brighten up an antique piece, for example. Pillows or aisle runners are some additional examples of uses for home furniture.
  5. Blanket – A baby blanket if perfect for this type of fabric. It’s lightweight and would be great for covering a baby or child in a stroller (which also conveniently protects them from the sun and dust or wind).
  6. Adjustable baby swaddle or breastfeeding cover Muslin fabric is very commonly used among mothers for children with its characteristics and versatility. You could make an adjustable baby swaddle which goes around your body to hold a baby, and it could also be used as a breastfeeding cover so you can feed your baby with greater privacy.
  7. Pram cover  – this is essentially a cover that can go over a baby stroller. Often, strollers with babies or young children are covered with this ‘banket’ in order to protect the child from the elements (sun, wind, cooler air). The lightweight nature of muslin is unique for a pram cover since it easily allows for air flow.
  8. Washcloth – How convenient! The breathability of this fabric makes an excellent washcloth for face. It helps to remove dirt and makeup, and to exfoliate the skin.
  9. Ribbons/Home decor – are a good example of one way that muslin fabric can be used for wrapping gifts or for decorations around the home, or even a store! You can easily dye the fabric into any color you want and to take it a step farther, designs can even be stamped onto the fabric, too. This adds a really unique touch to handmade gifts! Other home decor might include accent curtains or dividers for a room, a draped ceiling and walls (sometimes these are used at a spa, too), wall coverings, window treatments, floral treatments, wall covering, or backdrops. Lastly, you can make sheets or even teabags from muslin fabric!
  10. Cooking – Although it’s not something we think about everyday, fabric can very easily be used for cooking. Muslin fabric can be used to wrap vegetables to help remove moisture from them. Another great use is for squeezing lemons. You can slice a lemon in half, cover the half of the lemon with the cloth and then squeeze the juice into a cup or jar below. This will keep the lemon seeds out, functioning just like a strainer. Perhaps the ‘fanciest’ and most delicious way to use this fabric is for making cheese. Using muslin with cheese, it is affordable, easy, washable and reusable. For cooking, use light unbleached cotton muslin fabric.

Caring For Muslin Fabric

After each use, rinse the fabric immediately. You can wash it either in the washing machine or by hand in the sink. If using a washing machine, wash it in a cold temperature for colors (and with like colors), and warm or hot for lights and white (and with like colors). If washing in the sink, use warm water and add a half an ounce or so of detergent. You can soak the items for an hour or so, and then use cool water to rinse it. Try to avoid using any detergents, fabric softeners, or harsh chemicals if you are using the fabric for food, or if there are any sensitivities to these things in general.

If you are rinsing the fabric after using it for cheese, you may want to add white vinegar to help remove any of the cheese curd. One other thing to keep in mind about muslin fabric in general is that it does wrinkle when it becomes wet.

When drying muslin fabric, it may shrink, since it’s made of woven cotton, but not as much as a knit cotton. To dry, you can lay the fabric flat or tumble it on low — and do not iron or dry clean it!

As you can see, Muslin is a very versatile choice for a wide range of projects. While this fabric is popularly used within the theater world, there are many uses for home purposes too. We sell a muslin fabric that is 100% cotton and dye free. As mentioned, this is a great starting point for many projects. Buy your muslin fabric and get started today!

10 Tips For Using Drop Cloths While Painting

Using drop cloths for painting is a seamless way to cover up furniture and belongings that you do not want to be ruined or contaminated with paint or any products you are using for your project. Drop cloths come in all kinds of sizes, patterns even, quality, and price ranges. You can purchase them in bulk, as well, which can be more cost effective, of course.

There a few different kinds of drop cloths, but natural cotton, canvas, butyl (rubber coated) and plastic and paper drop cloths are common. In general, Canvas drop cloths are reliably durable, reusable, and are especially great because they can also be used outdoors. Canvas is probably the most common choice of drop cloth for professional painters. Fortunately, canvas can be washed and reused. Additionally, canvas cloths may be made from recycled fabrics which makes them an environmentally friendly choice.

Butyl drop cloths are another option that are rubber coated and are slip resistant, so this is a nice added bonus! Butyl drop cloths are also helpful for covering and keeping bushes protected outdoors.

Plastic drop cloths are a more economical option, and plastic is very light; it can protect against dust, wind and dirt too. It’s true that this is the most cost-effective option, but some types of plastic drop cloths are for one time uses only. Remember, if you do decide to purchase a reusable drop cloth, that it’s also an investment in them since they are something you can use time and time again.

If a painting job is on the horizon for you, use these ten tips to reduce your stress while completing the project! If you keep these things in mind, you can go about the job with less worry about something getting damaged along the way. After all, you are aiming for a new look, (or to maintain your current one) and the last thing you want is any of your valuable, personal belongings being affected.

  1. When ordering your drop cloth, check that the size of the drop cloth is appropriate for your needs. Drop cloths are often sold and come in their cut size, meaning that any hem or seam should be accounted for when considering the size you need. For example, if a piece of fabric is 6’ by 7’ to begin with, once it is sewn, it may be slightly less, say 5’5” by 6’7”. So if you ordered a 6’ by 7’ drop cloth and that is it’s cut size, it
  2. When using a drop cloth, make sure you place the same side face down on the furniture each time so you aren’t getting any paint or particles on the furniture itself.
  3. It will probably be best to find a drop cloth that is larger than the size of the furniture or piece so the piece can be fully covered with ease. This can give you a peace of mind knowing that the full piece is protected.
  4. If you have a longer term project, it could be a good idea to get a colored drop cloth that matches its surrounding environment — or quite frankly is something you want to look at for an extended period of time!
  5. Canvas drop cloths are a great option if there is likely to be more mess, since they are durable and tightly woven. (If you want to preserve greater storage space, though, canvas drop cloths are not the best option for you).
  6. Plastic drop cloths are an excellent choice for covering up very large pieces of furniture, kitchen cabinets and windows since it is lightweight. Keep in mind that it is not as absorbent as canvas, for example.
  7. Before you are ready to use a drop cloth, make sure that the space you are covering has been cleaned first. This way, you won’t trap any excess dirt underneath — this may be especially helpful for a long term project.
  8. Tape (masking tape is a good option) the bottom, sides, or loose pieces of the drop cloth onto the wall or the piece of furniture it is covering. You do want to consider this based on each piece, though. You might not want to tape a piece of plastic drop cloth to a kitchen cabinet, but rather to the wall or a piece of furniture near it, so if there is spillage, it can run off, instead of onto the cabinet. Another way taping can be used is if you have a piece of furniture near the wall (bulky or light). If a couch is covered with a drop cloth, and you are painting the walls in that room, you can tape the lower part of the drop cloth (near the floor) to the wall so anything coming from above doesn’t hit the floor.
  9. If you have a small project and do not require a super sturdy option, you can always use paper to cover something. Paper is more slip resistant that plastic, for example, but do keep in mind that it is more likely to rip! As such, paper is not a good alternative for any serious or laborious painting project.
  10. Once you have finished your project, allow any paint on the drop cloths to dry completely. If you’re using Canvas or plastic drop cloths, use cold water to wash, and then fold and store your cloths for the next use!

Hopefully these tips can provide as useful guidelines for you as you tackle your next painting project. While the tips shared today were focused on helping you with drop cloths for painting projects, it never hurts to remember to dress for the occasion. Whether you are completing the project on your own, or have hired someone to do it, don’t forget to not wear any valuable, or well liked clothes in painting zones; and good luck!

Tips For Painting On Canvas Fabrics

There is always a choice when it comes to artistic expression, and the products we use can really define our work. Now, there are many different surfaces and products that are used to paint on. Among these are paper, cardboard, wood, glass, metal, and even silk. Canvas, (generally referred to as a fabric that’s being painted on) however, is one of the most common things to paint on — and for good reason. It is usually made with cotton or linen. With cotton, there are benefits of its affordability and ability to stretch well. Cotton canvases last a long time and are generally the most popular kind of canvas to work with. Linen canvases are also used; they are strong and durable to work with, but a little less easy on the wallet.

Working With Canvas

Canvas is well liked for painting because it absorbs well, has a durable and nice texture, and is lightweight and easy to transport. Since there are so many different types of canvas to work on, consider which will work best for you and your particular project.

When working with canvas, or any art project, you’ll want to figure what you need to get started and how to set yourself up. You will need your canvas, of course, paint brushes that are longer and have generally thicker bristles, some containers or jars for water, and whatever you use to hold your paint. You can use anything from a actual palette made for paint to hold each color separately, or even a piece of newspaper. The canvases come in a variety of sizes, and are commonly pre-stretched over and fastened to a wooden frame. This makes them very convenient to work with, not to mention affordable.

Once you have your things and are ready to set up your space, think about what angle you will be the most comfortable working from. This could be upright, or in an angle, or even flat; this will also depend on what type of canvas you are using. After setting up the canvas, you can figure out where to best place your paint, brushes, and water. To make it easiest, plan to use a couple of separate jars or containers for water so you can clean dip and clean the brush into a water jar that is of a similar color.

For example, you might want a jar for your lighter colors and another for your darker colors. After dipping brushes in the water to clean the paint off, it can be helpful to keep a paper towel or rag of some sort nearby to gently blot the brushes dry. They don’t need to be perfectly dry, but doing this will absorb some of the excess moisture (and recently used color). Don’t forget to thoroughly clean the brushes in some warm water when you are finished working with them. Depending on how long you were painting for, the brush might require a work through with your fingers to eliminate any excess paint. Laying the brushes flat to dry may also help them to dry better. This way, the bristles can dry with a more even distribution. You don’t want them to clump together!

As you set your paints out, consider the distance or proximity of the paints to your canvas. Having the placement of the paints at an appropriate distance to and level from the canvas will enable greater ease as you navigate your space (and could give a break to your arm!). However you choose to set out your paint, if you are using acrylic paint (common for a canvas), just put out a smaller amount of paint to being with. Acrylic paints tend to dry pretty quickly, so this way you don’t want the unused paint to dry if it’s out for too long – and, you can throw away less paint if you take what you need as you go along!

Canvas Priming

As mentioned, canvas comes in varying styles. One thing to consider when working with canvas is whether or not it has been primed. Whether or not a canvas has been primed can affect the integrity and life of the fabric. The colors may come through differently. If you have a canvas that has been pre-stretched (sort of like pre-made), it may already have been primed, meaning it is ready to be painted on. If the canvas you are using has not been primed, you can do so by coating the canvas with gesso, which is a ready-made product you can buy. It is basically an acrylic paint that has already been thinned. Typically it’s white, but there are other colors to choose from as well. This way, you can tailor it to the needs of your unique project.

Priming the canvas is much like adding primer before painting a wall. Adding a coat of primer to the canvas will prevent the paint from absorbing (oils or acrylics) too much into the canvas. Artist Thaneeya states that you can put the gesso on any surface and paint with acrylic over it!

Another thing that you can do with your canvas is add a coating of your color of choice to the entire canvas to start with, setting a background for it. Since the canvas might come with a certain color or texture, you can add this color of paint to the entire canvas so the canvas is more closely matched with what you want to do with it. Using acrylic paint on canvas, for one, it is very easy to add many different layers on top of each other — this provides a different depth and texture, too. Fortunately, they generally dry pretty quickly too.

Wrapping Up Your Project

We’ve learned that if you’re using a canvas with acrylic paints, that the paint dries pretty quickly. This is something to keep in mind for what surface you will paint on in the first place, and regarding clean up. If you paint over a newspaper or paper of some sort, you’ll want to very carefully lift the painting from the newspaper, as it can stick to the paper and ruin any paint that may have been touching the paper itself. Don’t forget to clean your surface and your brushes once you are done! Keeping the brushes well maintained makes a big difference in their quality, and the way they will work for you the next time you’re ready to use them. With some of these tips in mind, you can figure out which canvas is the right one for you!

What Kind Of Tarps Are Best For Roofs?

Every now and then, you have to give your home an extra bit of tender loving care in order to keep it up to snuff. Other times, a natural disaster can tear through your neighborhood and leave you in need of some intense reconstruction. Either way, it can be difficult to know what kind of roofing materials to use in order to get your house back to being waterproof, especially if you can’t get professional assistance. You can’t just ignore the leaks and cracks in your roof, either, or else you risk doing more damage to your roof that’ll cost you in the long run.

Roofing and Tarps: The Basics

The good news is that of all the materials you may need to fix your roof, tarps are some of the most versatile and diverse. Sure, your framing & plywood are critically important to your roof’s structural integrity, and there’s no way you’re getting your work done without a ladder, but picking the right kind of tarp for your project can ensure that your roof remains undamaged by sun, mold, or wind.

Before You Begin

When choosing the best tarp for your roof, you’ll want to consider a number of factors. What’s the tarp’s purpose going to be? What kind of damage are you look to repair? What kind of environment do you live in, and what kind of external influences should your tarp be able to cope with? Before you go out shopping, you’ll want to do a quick assessment of all of these factors or else risk damaging a tarp in the middle of your reconstructive process.

You’ll also want to ensure that, no matter what kind of tarp you get, the size is appropriate for your project. Measure the area of roof you’re looking to cover before you head online to Chicago Canvas to order your tarp.

Choosing a Tarp

Once you’ve taken into account your environment and need, you can go out and choose the right kind of tarp for the roofing project you have at hand. Each tarp is different and advertised as such, but consider some of the essential elements that you might want to have backing up the tarp’s support of your roof.


It’s easy to assume that all tarps are relatively lightweight and don’t carry much presence. This isn’t the case. Some tarps, like our Silver UVR Heavy Duty Poly Tarps, are specifically designed to be heavier than others. This tarp, for example, is 12 mils thick, whereas a standard tarp is typically only 5 mils thick. By allowing a tarp to have more weight to it, engineers make that tarp more appropriate for roofing projects in areas prone to faster wind gusts or more frequent storms. When a tarp is advertised as heavy duty, then, it’s far more appropriate for re-roofing than a lightweight alternative.

That’s not to say, of course, that lightweight tarps don’t have their place when it comes to roofing. If the damage done to your roof is a one-off, then a lighter tarp may be easier for you to work with and more sustainable, in the long run, than a heavier tarp. All you need to do is assess the weather around your home and determine for yourself whether you want the protective boost of a heavy duty tarp or if one of the lighter ones available will do.


It may seem obvious, but when you’re fixing a roof that’s been damaged by heavy storms, you’ll want to look for a tarp that’s waterproof. Not all tarps can keep rainwater out of your home. Lighter tarps meant for camping, for example, are great for ensuring that your pajamas don’t get muddy, but it’s unlikely that they’d be able to hold up to pummeling rain. Look for a poly tarp, which is meant to slick off pouring rain and keep water from reaching the wooden supports of your roof.


Water does more when it reaches your roofing structure than just dampen your roof. If the tarp you’ve used to secure your roof isn’t mildew-proof, then you’re at risk of starting an impressive mold culture inside your home. Not only is this structurally dangerous, but there’s a chance that you and your family could get sick when exposed to the kind of mold that a tarp was unable to prevent from growing. The heavy duty poly tarp, as mentioned earlier, is one of many mildew-resistant tarps. By installing a tarp like this, you’ll be taking extra steps towards ensuring the safety not only of your home but of the people who live inside of it.


Finally, consider the grommets sewn into your tarp of choice. Water, as has been touched on, is a massive risk to the structure of your roof, but it can put more than the roof’s wooden structure at risk. If the grommets included on your tarp of choice aren’t rust-resistant, then you may be setting yourself up for additional roof repair in the very near future. By taking care to install rust-resistant grommets, tarps like this one work double time to keep your roof as up to snuff as possible.

Choosing the best tarp to help you fix your roof after a natural disaster or damage doesn’t have to be difficult. You need to make a careful assessment of the place you live and the damage your roof may sustain in order to choose the tarp that’s right for you. When you start out by making a needs assessment, you’re saving yourself time and money while also ensuring that the work you do on your tarped roof lasts for as long as it needs to.

How to Choose Which Fabrics to Use On-Stage

The right fabrics can set the scene, transport the audience to a different time and place, and add meaning to the story. For this reason, set and costume designers must choose the fabrics that they use on stage carefully. There are countless fabrics to choose from, which makes this job rather difficult. How can you decide which fabrics are best for your production? Follow these tips:

Remember the Lighting

The fabrics that look beautiful online may not look the same in person—especially when the spotlight is shining on them. Many stage and costume designers find this out the hard way after spending thousands of dollars on fabrics that don’t look appealing under the bright lights. Don’t make this mistake. If you find a fabric you like, order a sample before committing to it. See how the sample’s color, sheerness, and texture looks when placed under bright stage lights before deciding whether or not it will work for your production.

Research the Setting

Before shopping for fabrics, set and costume designers should thoroughly research the time and place where the play is set. You need to know as much as possible about what people of this time period wore, where they lived, how they decorated their homes, and what the world looked like at this time. If you don’t understand the characters’ lifestyle, there’s no way you will know how to choose the right fabrics for your production.

Consider the Transparency

Another factor to consider when selecting fabrics is the transparency of each material. Designers will need to use opaque fabrics to hide backstage activity or undesirable lighting since these materials lack transparency. You will also need an opaque fabric to serve as the drape that comes across the stage during intermission. This ensures the audience does not see the cast and crew racing around to prepare for next act.

Translucent fabrics are semi-transparent materials that allow some light to pass through them. Translucent fabrics are typically used to create a silhouette effect or provide backlighting on stage. If you accidentally choose an opaque fabric, you will not be able to create the desired illusion.

Remember that it is possible to layer translucent fabrics in order to adjust the amount of light that shines through. If a fabric is sheerer than expected, simply add a few layers of fabric to increase the thickness and block more light.

Think About the Way the Fabric Falls

A fabric cannot be used in your stage production if it does not fall the way you want it to—no matter how beautiful it may be. Because of this, it’s important to keep this factor in mind when narrowing down your options and choosing the right fabrics for your production. This is another reason why ordering fabric samples prior to purchasing materials is strongly recommended. Having samples gives you the opportunity to play with the materials and see how they drape over the body and props on set.

Avoid High Maintenance Fabrics

It’s best to learn about the proper way to care for each fabric before choosing materials for your production. You will need to know the best way to clean fabrics in case they are stained on set. If the cleaning process is too intensive, cross that fabric off of the list and move forward.

It’s also wise to find out whether or not a fabric is easily wrinkled. It’s hard for a set or costume designer to solely choose fabrics that do not wrinkle, however it is possible to avoid fabrics that are easily wrinkled and hard to steam. Avoiding these high maintenance fabrics will save you a lot of trouble and improve the overall look of your production.

Flame Retardant vs. Inherently Flame Retardant

Fabrics used as stage curtains must be flame retardant, but many set designers ado not know the difference between a flame retardant and inherently flame retardant fabric. The former is a fabric that is coated with a fire resistant chemical. Because the chemical is applied to the surface of the fabric, washing, dry cleaning, or repeatedly using the fabric could affect its fire resistance.

On the other hand, an inherently flame retardant fabric is one that has flame retardants built into its fibers. Since the flame retardants are part of the fabric’s structure, they will not come off when the curtain is washed, dry cleaned, or used repeatedly. Inherently flame retardant fabrics are usually more expensive, however they will remain resistant to fire for much longer than flame retardant fabrics.

Look For Cheaper Alternatives

Set and costume designers often fall in love with fabrics that are far too expensive to be used in their production. Instead of forgetting about these fabrics, designers should make an effort to find less expensive alternatives. For example, wool is a luxurious fabric that looks high-end and beautiful on stage, but it is fairly expensive. Fortunately, an inexpensive fabric such as polyester garbardine can be used to create the same look. Polyester garbardine may not look or feel like wool when it is closely examined, but it’s practically identical to it from a distance. The audience will never know the difference, so you can create the desired look without breaking the production’s budget.

Now, you should know how to choose the perfect fabrics to use in your next stage production. If you’re ready to purchase fabrics, contact Chicago Canvas & Supply for more information. We are your leading source for tarps, textiles, theatre fabrics, ropes, drop cloths, and more. We are more than happy to send free samples so you can make sure the fabrics will work for your production prior to purchasing them. To place a request for samples, contact us today by calling 1-866-389-2218 or emailing

Paracords vs. Tactical Ropes vs. Braided Utility Ropes

Ropes are used in countless different ways. Some people use ropes to tie down a tarp when camping or to provide support when climbing, whereas others use ropes in craft projects or as bracelets or belts. If you plan on using a rope for your next outdoor adventure or art project, it’s important to learn about the different types of rope that are available so you can choose the right one for the job.

The three most common types of rope are paracords, tactical ropes, and braided utility ropes. Each of these ropes is known as a general utility rope, meaning it has a number of different uses. But, this does not mean that each of these ropes is the same. Here’s how they compare:


Chicago Canvas’s paracord is a kernmantle nylon rope, which means its interior core is protected by a tough, woven outer sheath. This layered design makes paracord durable and capable of carrying a significant amount of weight. Tactical cord has a similar layered nylon structure, however it has a four-strand interior core, whereas paracord has a seven-strand interior core. Braided utility ropes, however, are not made out of nylon, but rather multifilament polypropylene.

Break Strength

Break strength is a term used to describe the amount of weight that the rope can safely support before it breaks. It’s important to research each type of rope’s break strength before deciding which one is right for you—especially if you plan on climbing or camping with it.

All three of these ropes are capable of safely holding hundreds of pounds of weight. The tactical rope has a break strength of 275 pounds, which is impressive, but not when compared to the other options. Braided utility rope is capable of supporting up to 300 lbs. of weight, but the paracord’s unique layered design makes it the strongest of them all. This rope can safely support up to 550 pounds of weight without breaking. If you are in need of rope for climbing or camping, it’s best to choose paracord since it can support the most weight.

Environmental Elements

Since many people use ropes outdoors, it’s important to know how each rope will hold up when exposed to environmental elements. Fortunately, each of these types is incredibly resistant to harsh environmental elements. Sunlight, rain, wind, and other environmental elements will not damage paracords, tactical ropes, and braided utility ropes. All three of these ropes are also mold and mildew resistant, so you will not have to worry about fungi growth even if the ropes are left in moist environments.


Another factor to consider is the price of each rope. The price of each rope can vary depending on a number of factors, including the length, color, vendor, and availability. But in general, braided utility rope is the cheapest per foot. Tactical rope is not far behind braided utility rope in price, but paracord is the most expensive of the three.

Don’t make this decision based on price alone. Keep in mind that price is only one of the factors you should consider when deciding on a rope. Many people are willing to pay the price for paracord because of the benefits that it offers.


The color of the rope may not be important to someone who plans on using it to climb or camp, but it is important to those who want to incorporate a rope into their next arts and crafts project. Braided utility rope comes in two different colors: black and white. Paracord and tactical utility rope are both available in a wide range of colors, air force gold, neon green, and every other color in between. Some paracords and tactical ropes are sold in packs that contain ropes in several different colors. If you are interested in a bright or unusual colored rope, it’s best to choose either paracord or tactical utility rope.


It’s hard to tie knots with thick ropes, but thin ropes are not nearly as strong or durable. For this reason, it’s wise to consider the thickness of each rope before making a final selection. Paracord is about 3/16 of an inch in diameter, which makes it thick enough to securely hold up to 550 pounds without breaking. However, the size may make it more difficult to tie tight knots with this rope. Tactical rope is smaller than paracord, measuring in at about 3/32 of an inch in diameter. This makes tactical rope ideal for tying knots or making lanyards or survival bracelets.


The weight of the rope is another factor to consider when narrowing down your rope options. None of the ropes are necessarily heavy, however braided utility ropes are known for being especially lightweight. In fact, the multifilament polypropylene material that is used to create braided utility ropes is so lightweight that it can even float on water. If you are looking for the lightest rope possible, the braided utility rope is the best option for you. However, if weight is not a priority, any of these three ropes should work well.


Fortunately, all three types of ropes are widely available at most craft and outdoor stores. You should not have to search high and low in order to find the rope you need for your next outdoor adventure or crafts project.

If you’re interested in purchasing a paracord, tactical rope, or braided utility rope, contact Chicago Canvas & Supply for more information. We are your leading source for ropes, textiles, theatre fabrics, tarps, drop cloths, and more. Feel free to contact us to request a free sample of our high-quality products. To place a request for samples, contact us today by calling 1-866-389-2218 or emailing

Fall Tarp Tips – Which Tarps Are Best For Preparing For Winter?

Tarps are useful items that can be made out of a number of different materials, including canvas, vinyl, and PVC, among others. You should consider many factors when determining which tarp is right for you, including the intended use, price, and durability. But, these aren’t the only factors that should influence your decision. Many people forget to consider one important factor when choosing a tarp: the time of year. At this time of year, a lot of people are purchasing tarps in order to prepare for the upcoming winter season. Sound familiar? If so, here’s what you need to know:

Which Tarps Can Withstand Winter Weather?

The winter season is known for its low temperatures and high winds, so you will need a tarp that is strong enough to withstand both. Unfortunately, some tarps are not designed to hold up in extremely windy environments. Vinyl and polyester tarps are ideal for windy conditions, however they must be tied down securely in order to withstand high winds. It doesn’t matter how durable the tarp is—it will not stay put if it’s not tied down properly.

It’s typically not a good idea to use mesh or canvas tarps in the winter. Both of these materials are far too lightweight to hold up in windy conditions. Plus, they are lightweight fabrics that will not provide much—if any—wind coverage.

Vinyl and PVC are the best tarps for cold weather conditions. Extremely cold temperatures will not affect these materials. In fact, the most durable vinyl and PVC tarps are designed to withstand temperatures as low as -40 degrees Fahrenheit. Some polyester tarps can withstand cold temperatures, however others become brittle when exposed to extreme cold. If your heart is set on a polyester tarp, it’s important to look for a heavy duty one that is designed for outdoor use.

Winter is certainly not the sunniest season, but some areas get a great deal of sunshine even in the coldest months. In Florida, for example, the weather may drop at night in the winter, but it typically stays sunny throughout the day. If you live in this type of climate, you will also need to find a tarp that is resistant to UV light. Polyester and vinyl tarps are usually not UV resistant on their own, so they are often treated with a special chemical that makes the material strong enough to withstand UV exposure. However, if the material has not been treated with this chemical, it should not be used in sunny outdoor areas. Play it safe by looking for a tarp that is described as either “UV resistant” or “UV treated.” The former describes a material that is naturally resistant to UV light, whereas the latter indicates that the material has been treated in order to withstand UV light exposure.

Another factor to consider is the tarp’s water resistance. Tarps that are used outdoors in the winter need to be heavily resistant to water so they are not damaged when the snow starts to melt. Polyester, vinyl, and PVC tarps are highly resistant to water, in addition to mold and mildew growth. This makes these three materials ideal for outdoor use when water or snow may be present.

How to Use Tarps in the Winter

By now, it should be clear which tarps are strong enough to be used in the winter season. But, how exactly should the tarps be used in the winter? Use tarps to cover your swimming pool and protect it from the strong winter winds. Tarps can also be thrown over items that are being transported in the back of a pick-up truck. As long as the tarp is secured in place, it will keep the items safe until they’ve reached their final destination.

Tarps can also be placed over plants and flowerbeds at night when the temperatures are expected to drop below freezing. Placing a tarp over your prized garden will keep your plants alive until morning when temperatures start to rise again.

Plants aren’t the only things that tarps can protect in the winter. Many people use tarps to cover their boats, bikes, and motorcycles in the winter. These items won’t be needed until the weather starts to warm up, so it’s best to keep them covered with a heavy duty tarp all winter. The tarp will ensure your valuables are not damaged by harsh environmental elements. Plus, the tarps will also serve as a barrier to keep animals, bugs, and dirt out.

If you plan on camping in the winter, make sure you pack a tarp or two in your bag. The tarp can be used to block wind from entering your campsite so you can stay warm and keep the fire burning all night long. The tarp can also be placed on the floor of the tent so you don’t drag dirt and mud inside. If you need to carry firewood back to your campsite, use the tarp to lift more wood than you would be able to carry on your own. Place the tarp on the ground, and then pile the wood in the center of the tarp. Pick the tarp up on one end, and have a buddy pick it up on the other end. Now, you can transport heavy items back to your campsite with ease.

If you’re interested in purchasing a tarp for fall activities, contact Chicago Canvas & Supply for more information. We are your leading source for tarps, textiles, theatre fabrics, ropes, drop cloths, and more. We are more than happy to send free samples to customers so they can test fabrics prior to purchasing them. To place a request for samples, contact us today by calling 1-866-389-2218 or emailing

7 Creative Ways to Use Burlap

Burlap is a material that is typically made out of fibers from jute plants, which are known for their durability and strength. Because this material is so tough, it is often sewn into sacks that are used to carry heavy items such as potatoes, rice, and coffee beans. However, burlap is not always used in this manner. Here are seven creative ways to use burlap:

Protect Plants From Harsh Environmental Elements

If you enjoy gardening, it’s best to keep burlap handy so you can use it to protect your beloved plants from harsh environmental elements. In the winter, use burlap to create barriers or screens in front of your plants. The burlap barrier is designed to protect your plants from cold winds, so it does not need to touch the plants in order to keep them safe.

You can also use burlap to cover your plants at night when the temperatures are expected to drop. The layer of burlap will protect your plants from frost—just be sure to remove it as soon as you wake up in the morning.

Burlap is also used in the summer to protect plants that are getting too much sun. Hang burlap above your vegetable garden by attaching both ends to trees nearby. The burlap will block some, but not all of the natural light. This means your veggie garden will still get the sunlight it needs even with the burlap sun shield in place.

Use As Wedding Décor

Many women dream of a beautiful rustic wedding, and there’s no better material to make this dream a reality than burlap. This material is often used as table runners or tablecloths at rustic-themed weddings. Strips of burlap are tied around mason jars, vases, party favors, and even the guests’ chairs. At rustic weddings, the bride and her bridesmaids are often carrying bouquets with stems wrapped in burlap.

Burlap can even be incorporated into the design of the wedding invitations. A strip of burlap can hold the invitation, RSVP card, and wedding details card in place until the guests are ready to open this stunning package. There are endless opportunities to use burlap to create the rustic wedding of your dreams, so flex your creative muscle and use this material in any way you see fit.

Create Pillowcases

Burlap is not the softest material, so it may seem odd to create a pillowcase out of this material. But, the pillows you create with burlap will be used for decorative purposes rather than for sleeping.

Measure the pillow carefully before cutting and sewing the burlap fabric to place over it. The color of the pillow may show through the tiny holes in the burlap material. To cover this up, choose another type of fabric to lie between the burlap pillowcase and the pillow. This gives you the opportunity to choose exactly what color peeks through the openings in the burlap.

Hang As Curtains

Make the inside of your home look more rustic and natural by hanging unique burlap curtains on your glass doors and windows. Burlap is the perfect accent to your farmhouse or rustic style home. However, it’s important to note that this is not the best curtain choice for people who want to block out sunlight. Since burlap is a porous material, the natural light will shine through the fabric and into your home. You always have the option of adding other layers of fabric behind the burlap to block out more light.

Use in Stage Productions

No stage production is complete without burlap material. Burlap’s natural look makes it an ideal fabric choice for plays and other productions set in Medieval times. It’s also the perfect material for set designers or costume designers who are trying to give the production a country vibe.

Burlap is one of the most inexpensive materials used in stage productions, so there’s no need to worry about whether or not you have room in your budget for this material.

Sew Into Reusable Bags

Burlap is durable enough to withstand repeated use, which makes it the perfect material to use as a reusable bag. Fold a piece of burlap material in half and sew along both of its edges. Do not sew the top together—this is the opening of your new reusable bag.

You can even use a stencil and paint to make this style your own. It’s best to use acrylic paint on burlap, but other paints will also work as long as they are not oil-based. Paint your initials, fun designs, or anything else that inspires you on the burlap bag. Now, it’s ready to travel with you to the grocery store to serve as your reusable grocery bag.

Disguise Outdated Home Décor

Look around your home. Do you see outdated vases, picture frames, and flower pots? Give these items a fresh new look by covering them with burlap. Wrap the burlap tightly around the item and glue it in place so it stays put. Transforming your outdated household décor into rustic and trendy pieces only takes a few minutes. From utensils and serving spoons to lamp shades and bulletin boards, you can wrap practically any household item in burlap. Since burlap is so durable, it is strong enough to use on items that are stored outside as well.

As you can see, there are many different ways to use burlap in your everyday life.  If you’re interested in purchasing this versatile material, contact Chicago Canvas & Supply. We are your leading source for backdrops, textiles, theatre fabrics, tarps, drop cloths, and more. Feel free to contact us to request a free sample of our high-quality burlap materials. To place a request for samples, contact us today by calling 1-866-389-2218 or emailing

10 Different Ways to Use Tarps

A tarp is something that everyone should have at home or in the car. Why? Tarps are incredibly versatile and durable, so you never know when these heavy-duty materials will come in handy. Here’s a look at 10 of the ways you can use tarps:

Build A Hammock

A high quality tarp is strong enough to hold your body weight, so it can be fashioned into a hammock in the event you need to sleep outside. All you will need is a little bit of rope and a shady spot between two trees. Sleeping in a hammock as opposed to on the ground will keep you away from insects and water and prevent you from sleeping on the hard ground.

Cover Broken Windows, Doors, or Roofs

Broken windows, doors, and roofs are not always repaired right away. If you’re living with a broken window, door, or roof, use a tarp to cover the broken area. The tarp will prevent rain, insects, and debris from coming into your home and causing more damage. Once the repairman arrives, simply remove the tarp so they can access the broken area.

Keep Items in Transport Safe

Items that are transported in the bed of a pickup truck are at risk of getting damaged or dirty before they reach their final destination. If you need to transport something such as a mattress or piece of furniture, keep it safe on its journey with the help of a tarp. Secure the items in place in the bed of the truck and lay the tarp on top so it completely covers your belongings. Tie the tarp down using rope so it does not fly off of the back of the truck while it’s in motion.

Collect Drinking Water

No camper or hiker ever plans on running out of water, but it’s important to know what to do just in case you ever find yourself in this situation. Dig a shallow hole in the ground and line the inside of it with a tarp. The next time it rains, the tarp will fill with fresh drinking water. Another option is to tie the tarp to two trees and let it catch rainwater there instead. Either way, the tarp will make it easier for you to survive with a fresh water supply.

Entertain Kids

Believe it or not, it’s possible to entertain kids with a tarp as well. Kids can use the tarp to build a fort at home or in the woods near your campsite. If the weather is hot, grab a hose and a tarp to create your own version of a slip and slide. It’s very hard to damage this tough material, so it’s perfect for rambunctious children who are looking for something fun to do.

Block Wind

Campers know how frustrating it is to try to light a fire or stay warm on a windy night. There’s no need to sit back and wait for the wind to die down if you’ve packed a tarp in your backpack. Figure out which direction the wind is coming from, then tie the tarp up to two trees so it is facing the right direction. The tarp will block the wind from entering your campsite so you can light a fire and stay comfortable all night long.

Use As A Makeshift Stretcher

An accident can happen at any time, so it’s important to be prepared. If someone is injured and unable to walk or stand on their own, use a tarp as a makeshift stretcher. Gently place the injured person down on the center of the tarp. Then, ask a few people to assist you with lifting the tarp by the edges and carrying the person to safety. The tarp is strong enough to hold this weight, so you won’t need to worry about the injured person falling through it.

Carry Heavy Items

Tarps can hold a significant amount of weight, so they are ideal for carrying heavy items such as firewood or supplies. Place the tarp flat on the ground and place the heavy items in the center. Then, grab one end of the tarp and ask a buddy to grab the other end. Now, you can easily transport heavy objects that you would not have been able to carry otherwise.

Protect Floors and Furniture

Pull your tarps out whenever you need to protect your floors and furniture. This is ideal for people who plan on painting the walls in their home. Instead of moving all of their furniture out of the room, throw tarps on top of the furniture and floors to protect it from the paint.

Tarps can also be used to protect flooring when you are moving into a home. Lay the tarps down so the movers do not stain your flooring with the dirt and debris on the bottom of their shoes.

Keep Car Seats Clean

Pets can carry dirt and debris on their paws that will end up in your car if you need to take your furry friends somewhere. Don’t let a trip to the vet turn into a mess in your backseat—use a tarp to protect your car seats. Place the tarp over your backseat before letting your pet inside your car. If your pet does drag in dirt or debris, it will wind up on the tarp instead of your leather interior.

These are just some of the many ways to use tarps in your day-to-day life. If you’re interested in purchasing tarps, contact Chicago Canvas & Supply. We are your leading source for tarps in all different shapes, sizes, and materials. Feel free to contact us to request a free sample of our high-quality tarps. To place a request for samples, contact us today by calling 1-866-389-2218 or emailing