At Home Arts and Crafts Projects Using Fabric

Are you a home hobbyist? Have you been thinking of trying your hand at arts and crafts? One of the best ways to beat stress and boredom is by finding a new hobby. We have some fun ideas for arts and crafts at home that suit all ages and use affordable fabrics. If you’re for a new hobby, these projects help you find a new passion and brighten your home at the same time.

No-Sew Pillow Covers

Here’s a quick and easy project that doesn’t require any sewing. You can make these covers to change the décor in a family room, den, or living room. You can also use a waterproof fabric to have pillows for your outdoor living area. As there’s no sewing, you can have your kids help out.

Start by measuring the pillow you want to cover. If it’s a 12” by 12” square, you want to cut a fabric square that adds an extra two inches to each side. You’d cut two 16” by 16” squares of fabric.

Lay the two squares of fabric so that they are on top of each other. Make sure the fabric’s finished side (the side you want to show) is facing out. Cut a 2” square from each corner and start cutting the sides into strips that are 1” wide and 2” long. Fold each fringe strip (two layers of fabric form that strip) into half and cut a small slit in the center. Make sure the slit goes through both pieces of fabric. These strips will form the rope border that joins the two pieces of fabric without sewing them.

Unfold a paper clip and stick it through the small slit you made. Grab the first fabric fringe strip on the top right with the paper clip and pull it through the fringe strip below it. Continue doing this down the right side. Pull the next side’s fringe strip through the final fringe strip at the bottom and continue along the bottom edge. Keep doing this until you’ve joined three sides together. Insert the pillow and finish the final edge. When you get to the last fringe strip, separate the two different fabrics and tie them into a knot twice.

Which fabrics are best for no-sew pillow covers? It depends on your intended use. These are our picks.

#1 – Outdoor Pillows and Cushions

Treated canvas comes in seven color choices and is water and mildew resistant. Colors include brown, gold, green, grey, olive drab (both fire retardant and not), and white. Purchase the 16-ounce treated canvas by the yard in 5 or 6-foot widths.

#2 Indoor Pillows

Many canvas and theatrical fabrics work well for pillow covers. We have two suggestions. Poly silk is flame-retardant and comes in 24 colors. Velour is vibrantly colored and comes in three weights. Marvel velour is the heaviest and is also flame retardant. It comes in 25 colors. Both velour and poly silk have a bonus of resisting wrinkling.

Burlap Dolls

Could you be making natural dolls and teddy bears for children and adults? That’s one easy craft project suitable for all ages. Purchase some burlap and make simple dolls. Teddy bears are easy to make. You need to be able to sew. Cut a simple bear pattern in burlap. You’ll find printable patterns online. Sew most of the edges but leave a small opening to add the filling. Stuff it with the filling of your choice and close the opening you left behind using a blanket stitch. Finish the doll by sewing on button eyes and a nose and use embroidery floss to add a smile. You could also use fabric paint to draw the nose, smile, and eyes.

Burlap dolls are not fancy toys, but they’re easy to make. Not sure what you’d do with them? Some people make money selling them at craft sales or sites like Etsy. You could generously donate them to women’s shelters, foster housing, and memory care facilities. You’ll make someone very happy with these simple dolls. Chicago Canvas sells natural burlap in 5 or 6-foot widths. Ask us about colored burlap. We do have it available if you purchase a full roll.

Splatter Paintings

When your kids want something to do and you want them outside, splatter paintings are a fun idea. Dress them in clothes that can get messy. Take a piece of duck canvas and secure it between two trees or posts. If you have a fence, you can secure it across fence panels and use painter cloth nearby to keep the fencing clean of paint.

Once the duck canvas is secure, arrange several bowls with different colors of acrylic paints. Put a brush in each bowl. Your children will take a brush and flick their wrist so that the paint flies off the brush and onto the canvas in abstract designs. They want to cover the canvas with a variety of colors. If it drips down, it adds to the design. What if they don’t want to splatter paint? That’s fine too, they could paint a mural or paint pictures all over the stretch of canvas. It’s already outside, which makes it easy to dry before you bring it inside.

You might want to paint a mural on the duck canvas or do a splatter painting of your own. Cotton duck fabric is smooth and an ideal artist canvas. If you’d prefer a canvas that’s already primed, there’s white or black canvas available. White primed canvas comes in 6-yard rolls. Black primed canvas comes in 6-yard or 30-yard rolls.

DIY Bean Bags

It’s hard to argue that a bean bag is an incredibly comfortable seat. You can buy a bean bag at the store or make your own. Sure, it’s easy to buy a bean bag chair, but why not make your own? When you make one, you have complete control over the size of that bean bag. You could make a giant bean bag that’s the size of a sofa or a small one that’s ideal for your dog.

Smaller bean bags are an important component in the game of cornhole. If you haven’t heard of cornhole, it’s a popular outdoor game that you can make yourself easily enough. You need a small piece of plywood that’s attached to a board so that it sits at an angle. Cut a hole in the center. The goal is for players or teams to get their four bean bags through the target hole. The first team to get all four bean bags through the hole wins. Use homemade bean bags and make each team’s set of four in a unique color to make it easy to keep track.

When you use 10-ounce colored canvas, you get a durable material that will hold the filling. Cornhole bags are often filled with dried corn, but you could also use rice, lentils, or dried beans. Bean bags are often filled with small foam pellets. The other benefit to 10-ounce colored canvas is that it comes in 30 colors. You can make a large bean bag in a color that matches your bedroom, living room, or family room décor.

The durability of your arts and crafts often comes down to the fabric you choose. Fabrics all have their best-intended uses, strength, and qualities like water resistance or tear resistance. If you’re not sure of the fabric you should use for your arts and crafts, give Chicago Canvas & Supply a call. We’re happy to help.

Best Tarps & Canvas Tarps With Grommets

One of the simplest ways to lengthen the life of your tarp is by making sure it’s secure when you use it. If it’s allowed to blow around in the wind or into other objects, rips and tears are possible. A tarp could also blow away on a windy day if it’s not tied down properly.  Additionally, strapping down the wrong type of tarp in the wrong situation will lead to premature failure of the tarp. Grommets ensure you have a way to make sure your tarp is secure.  And ensuring you have the right tarp for the job will ensure the longest life possible for your application.

Chicago Canvas & Supply sells a wide range of tarps. From canvas tarps to Iron Horse tarps, we have the right tarp for your needs. These tarps come in a range of sizes and colors. Some are also available in custom sizes. Here are your options.

Canvas Tarps

There are 10 oz untreated canvas tarps, 16 oz canvas tarps, and 18 oz canvas tarps. Canvas is a breathable cotton material. One of the benefits is that items below the tarp are not going to be exposed to condensation. They may get stained, however, as the material is only water-resistant rather than waterproof. Take a closer look at the three types of canvas tarps.

Untreated Tarps: Untreated tarps are not designed to get wet. They do have brass-plated grommets every 24 inches. You can get them in their natural color or in a selection of 36 colors and in sizes ranging from 5 by 7 feet to 40 by 40 feet. Custom sizes are also available. Use untreated natural tarps for painting projects. Natural or colored canvas tarps are good for making curtains and room dividers or protecting furnishings and floors while painting walls and ceilings.

16 oz Tarps: Grommets on 16-ounce tarps are placed about 24 inches apart. These breathable tarps help prevent condensation, which makes them ideal for covering supplies. They are treated with a mixture of oil and wax, which gives them a water-repellent quality. They also reduce mildew. That oil/wax treatment can cause staining, so do not use them to cover cars or boats. Choose from six colors and sizes ranging from 5 by 7 feet to 30 by 30 feet or arrange a custom size. There is also a flame retardant version in olive drab. Bulk pricing is available for packs of 4, 6, or 12 tarps.

18 oz Tarps: The heaviest of the canvas tarps, 18 oz tarps come in gold or olive drab. These tarps have the same features of the other canvas tarps, such as grommet placement, but the heavier size makes them ideal for camping and truck covers when transporting items like feed, wood shavings, or crushed stone. The 18 oz canvas tarps are also available in sizes from 5 by 7 feet to 30 by 30 feet. Bulk pricing is also available on the 18 oz tarps.

Clear PVC Tarps

When you want to block off a window or door opening on a building site, create a see-through curtain in a shower, or add a wall to a covered porch or deck, the clear PVC tarp is a great choice. Its weight is 18 ounces per square yard. Grommets are placed every 24 inches. It’s waterproof and resists abrasion, rips, and tears. Buy in a custom size or in a size up to 10 by 12 feet.

Iron Horse Tarps

One of the toughest tarps on the market is the Iron Horse tarp. Its weight is 15 ounces per square yard. It’s waterproof and twice as strong as a canvas tarp. Its finish is dry and doesn’t have any plastic or chemical odor. Grommets are placed about every 24 inches. Sizes range from 5 by 7 feet to 30 by 30 feet, and custom sizes are available, too. There are seven color options.

This tarp is popular for creating a shade structure for a yard or patio. It’s a good choice for covering vehicles, outdoor furniture, and boats. You can also use it for canopies and awnings.

Mesh Tarps

Mesh tarps are used for screens that allow air to pass. You can use them as privacy fences or screening in a deck. They’re also good for covering a pool in the summer to keep bugs and leaves out when the pool isn’t in use. There are several options.

Polyethylene Mesh Tarps: This lightweight mesh tarp comes in two sizes (6 by 50 feet or 8 by 50 feet) and five colors. You can get a custom size if needed. Grommets are placed about 24 inches apart. Expect this tarp to block out about 80% of the sun’s rays. The polyethylene fabric resists mold and mildew. It’s often used to create privacy screens or at construction sites and sports facilities.

Polypropylene Mesh Tarps: You get two choices for colors (black and green) and sizes (6 by 50 feet and 8 by 50 feet) with the polypropylene mesh tarp. Custom sizes are also available. The weave on this tarp blocks out 95% of the UV rays. It’s lightweight and has grommets set every 24 inches. Use it to create shade over a patio or outdoor play structure. Cover a pool with it or create a privacy screen.

Vinyl Coated Color Mesh Tarps: Grommets are placed about 24 inches apart on this 10 oz tarp. It provides 55% shade, so you can see through it. It’s a popular choice for fence liners, scaffolds, shade covers, and privacy screens. It comes in 10 colors and sizes ranging from 6 by 8 feet to 20 by 30 feet. You can also get it in a custom size.

Poly Tarps

Polyethylene tarps are the ones most people are familiar with. They’re the blue tarps you see in discount stores. Blue tarps are just one of the different forms of poly tarps. While some tarps are waterproof, this type of tarp is water-resistant due to the weave of the poly threads. Some of these tarps have a tighter weave than others. There are several types of poly tarps that meet different needs.

Blue Poly Tarps: Blue poly tarps are lightweight. They’re an all-purpose tarp that’s often found in discount stores. Get them in sizes of up to 60 by 120 feet, which is enough to cover a leaking roof. Grommets on this tarp are placed 36 inches apart. Use the blue poly tarp to cover firewood, cover a pool for the winter, or add a privacy wall around a covered deck. They’re also popular options for covering machines and items that are in storage.

Heavy Duty Poly Tarps: Find heavy-duty poly tarps in brown/green (5 sizes), green/silver (12 sizes), or white (10 sizes). Grommets are spaced every 18 inches on green/silver and white tarps. They’re every 36 inches on brown/green. These tarps are popular for picnic mats, privacy walls, covers for farm equipment and machinery, and covering the ground when you’re having landscaping supplies like mulch or crushed stone delivered.

Heavy Duty UVR Poly Tarps: The heavy-duty UVR poly tarps reflect UV rays. With sizes of up to 50 by 50 feet, the tarps come in reversible black or white with silver on the other side. Grommets are placed every 24 inches. Use these to cover machines, construction materials, camping supplies, firewood, or boats.

Silver UVR Heavy Duty Poly Tarps: Similar to the heavy-duty UVR poly tarps, the silver UVR heavy-duty poly tarps have grommets that are closer together. With grommets at 18 inches apart, these tarps can be tied down or secured with ease. Find them in sizes as large as 30 by 50 feet.

Vinyl Tarps

Vinyl tarps are waterproof. Even in the heaviest rainstorm, this tarp is not going to let water through. The only time water can get through a vinyl tarp is if there is a puncture or rip. Another benefit is that the tarp is flame retardant. You have two options when it comes to vinyl tarps.

13 oz Vinyl Laminated Tarp: With nine color choices and sizes ranging from 5 by 7 feet to 20 by 30 feet. If you need a larger tarp, custom quotes are available. The laminated vinyl tarp is treated to prevent UV damage. Grommets are placed every 24 inches. This is a great choice for welding curtains, paint booths, and dividers.

18 oz Vinyl Coated Polyester Tarps: Vinyl coated polyester tarps come in 16 colors and sizes ranging from 5 by 7 feet to 20 by 30 feet. It’s also UV-treated and resists mildew. Grommets are spaced about 24 inches apart. This super thick tarp resists rips and tears as well as abrasion. These tarps are great at covering furniture, equipment, and crops. They’re great for dividing spaces on a work site or construction site. You can also use them as covers on farm and freight trucks.

Not sure what the best tarp is for your project or structure? Chicago Canvas is happy to discuss your goals and help you find the right tarp and grommet spacing. Our experts help you find the right size or provide quotes if a custom size is needed. With a wide range of tarps with grommets, we know we have exactly what you’re looking for.

Best Tarps for Gym Floor Coverings

Why would a school or event center want to cover their gym floors? The reasons are endless. Gym floor coverings prevent scuffs and damage to a polished gym floor during an event like a dance or graduation. You can’t demand guests take off their shoes, but you can protect your investment with a heavy-duty, non-slip tarp. If you’re hosting an awards show, sponsoring a community dinner, or setting up a graduation breakfast, tarps can help you avoid costly repairs, refinishing, and maintenance.

What should you look for in a tarp that’s designed to protect gym floors? Here are the things to think about and some of our picks for the best tarps for gym floor coverings.

Qualities a Floor Covering Needs to Have

Every tarp has an ideal use. Some tarps are waterproof while others are only water-resistant. Some do not repel water at all and allow water to pass through with ease. You have tarps that rip easily, but other tarps withstand damage for years. Finding the right tarp for your floor covering project comes down to the reason you want the tarp.

Before choosing your tarp, come up with a list of the features you need. If the tarp slides around when you walk on it, it’s a lousy choice. You don’t want people coming to your gym and slipping. A slip and fall accident could be costly.

If you’re covering the gym floor for a fun fair or carnival where they may be games where there is water, you want a waterproof tarp to protect the floor. If you’re hosting a meal with food and beverages, a waterproof tarp that’s easy to clean is important.

You also want a tarp that can withstand heavy traffic. If people will be wearing heels, you want a tarp that won’t easily rip or tear. You don’t want a tarp that stains.

What if you’re painting gym walls and ceilings? You need to protect the floor from paint splatters. The right tarp offers the protection you need.

Our Picks for the Best Tarps for Gym Floor Coverings

What are the best tarps for gym floor coverings? The tarp you choose for a wedding aisle runner won’t be the same as the one you’re using for a big painting job. These are our favorite tarps and closer looks into when and why you’d want each of them.

Painting Projects

Painting walls and ceilings? The 10-ounce untreated canvas tarps are perfect. They’re lightweight but tough. They’re made from 100% cotton, which makes them washable. Grommets are spaced every two feet, so they’re easy to secure over bleachers or other fixtures. Order these canvas tarps in one of 20 sizes (5 by 7 feet to 40 by 40 feet) or complete the online form to order a custom size. If your project will require ladders, you’ll want a heavier tarp that can handle the damage a ladder could cause.

Another tarp to consider when you’re painting gym ceilings is the butyl rubber coated drop cloth. This triple-coated rubber tarp is slip-resistant and tough enough to have a ladder sitting on it. It’s not going to allow any paint to get through the material to the gym floors you’re protecting. Purchase one of four sizes that range from 4.5 by 15 feet to 12 by 15 feet.

Events and Banquets With Heavy Foot Traffic

Does your gym floor covering need to be non-slip? Are you trying to keep the floor protected from food and beverage spills? We have a couple of suggestions.

With 18-ounce vinyl coated polyester tarps, the back is non-slip, so it’s not going to move around as people walk on it. It’s also waterproof, which makes it one of the best floor coverings you can find for protection during a banquet dinner or graduation breakfast. Order the tarp in one of 10 sizes ranging from 5 by 7 feet to 20 by 30 feet. You can also order the 18-ounce vinyl coated tarp in a custom size.

Vinyl laminated tarp is another sturdy tarp to use for covering a gym floor. You can purchase 13-ounce vinyl laminated tarp in five-foot widths or in nine sizes starting at 5 by 7 feet and going up to 20 by 30 feet. Custom sizes are also available. If you’re stuck between this tarp and a vinyl-coated tarp, the vinyl-laminated is flame retardant.

Wedding Aisle Runners

To save money, some couples rent a school or recreation center’s gymnasium for their wedding. Wedding aisle runners are an attractive way to cover areas of a gym floor. Flame retardant muslin has a tight weave and is 100% cotton. Its natural color will fit into your wedding décor. If candles are part of your décor, the flame retardant material is ideal. Purchase flame retardant heavy natural muslin tarp in widths ranging from 9.83 feet to 39 feet. The material comes in a bale that measures about 65 yards in length.

For weddings that do not require fire-retardant material, you cannot go wrong with jute. The 10-ounce natural burlap has a natural, rustic look and is dyed to remove any odors. It comes in five or six-foot widths. If you want to purchase colored burlap, purchase it in a 35-yard roll. Colors include Ecliptic Blue, Florida Sand, Smoke Charcoal, and Snap Pink. Call us for a full listing of color options.

Tips for Buying Tarps for Floor Coverings

Chicago Canvas & Supply sells most tarps as cut size, and this is important when you’re ordering a tarp. Cut size means the hems and seams are not factored into the width and length of the material. If you need a tarp that is 12 by 12 feet and go ahead and order a 12 by 12 cut-size tarp, you’ll end up with a tarp that falls short. By the time you take out a few inches on each side for the seams and hems, you’ll end up with a tarp size more like 11.5 by 11.5 feet. Finish size measurements are the final measurements after seams and hems are added.

Once you have a list of your must-have qualities, give us a call. Chicago Canvas & Supply is happy to discuss your project or event and help you get the best tarp to cover a gym floor. We can also help you size the tarp correctly so that you have a tarp that fits your space once we add the grommets and hems. It may seem confusing, but we’re here to help. Give us a call and let us know how we can help you find the right tarp for your needs.

Custom Size Heavy-Duty Tarps

Tarps serve so many purposes, but they can only do their job correctly if you have the right size. Buying a heavy-duty tarp in standard sizes may not meet your needs, so why spend money on something that won’t last? Tarps come in several sizes when you buy them in stores. If you need a tarp that’s larger than the sizes you see offered, a custom size heavy-duty tarp is your best option. You don’t have to be stuck to the sizes you see on a shelf. You can have the right tarp for your needs in the dimensions you demand.

When you’re sizing the area you need to cover or add a wall or privacy screen too, you’ll take the height and width. You may want to add a few inches for overhang if you’re using the tarp to create a canopy or roof cover. If you’re covering a truck bed, you need extra inches to cover the sides of the truck bed to keep water out. A privacy screen can be a more exact fit, so you may not need the extra inches. That’s why the dimensions for width and depth are very important to get right when it comes to a customized tarp. Many of Chicago Canvas & Supply’s tarps are available in custom sizes. Here’s what you need to know about buying a custom-size heavy-duty tarp.

Choose the Tarp by the Material It’s Made From and Its Ideal Use

When you’re buying a tarp, you need to make sure the tarp your purchase matches your needs. That blue lightweight tarp you see in the store may not last for a whole summer if you’re using it to block winds on a deck or patio. If you need a waterproof tarp to cover your car, a canvas tarp isn’t a good choice. Canvas is only water resistant and it can stain. If you need a tarp to cover your pool, you want a tarp that can withstand excessive exposure to UV rays and doesn’t degrade when it’s in water 24/7. If you need a tarp that allows air through, you won’t want one that’s designed to block even small droplets of water..

Ask yourself these questions as you narrow down your choices. Ask if you need the tarp to be breathable, waterproof, or water-resistant. Does the tarp need to be in a specific color or would a standard tarp color like black or silver meet your needs? Does the tarp need to stand up to wind gusts, abrasion, or heavy ice? What are you using the tarp for? What weight is the best? When you’re looking at tarp weights, the weight represents the weight per square yard. A 5-ounce tarp is going to be thinner and less durable than a 16-ounce tarp. Take a look at your options for heavy-duty tarps you can get in custom sizes and their ideal use.


Canvas tarps are made from cotton and are breathable, but they’re also water repellant. Canvas tarps are easily customized to meet your required size. You have several options when it comes to the canvas tarp fabric. There are 16-ounce or 18-ounce canvas tarps available in custom sizes. The 16-ounce tarp comes in fire retardant, too, but that is not available for custom orders. The water-resistant coating on canvas tarps protect from water, but they’re not waterproof. The water-resistant coating may cause stains, so you don’t want it to ruin the finish on the item it’s protecting. Best for:

  • Covering cargo
  • Protecting construction supplies
  • Covering camping necessities

Clear PVC

Clear PVC tarps are 18-ounce tarps that are see-through and waterproof. They’re heavy-duty, but they have to be used in a setting where you want the light to come through. Don’t worry about damage from the sun as they are UV-treated tarps. Best for:

  • Creating weatherproof walls around a covered deck or party tent
  • Covering window and door openings at a construction site
  • Separating areas on a construction site

Iron Horse

Iron Horse tarps are heavy-duty and waterproof. Think of this tarp as a superhero that stands up to most forces and conditions. Iron Horse tarps come in 11 sizes, but you can also order a custom size. When you need the customized Iron Horse tarp, there are 7 colors to choose from (black, blue, brown, green, grey, tan, and white). Best for:

  • Shade structures on a playground, deck, patio, or other backyard structure
  • Protective covers for outdoor furniture
  • Car and boat storage covers


Mesh is usually lightweight, but the vinyl coated mesh tarp is 10 ounces, which makes it more durable. You’d choose this tarp when you need a tarp that breathes. It’s not going to keep water out, but it’s a good choice when you want air to be able to pass through the material. Best for:

  • Blocking views at construction sites
  • Creating a fence liner
  • Adding a privacy screen around a deck or gazebo that also keeps insects out


You also get a choice when it comes to vinyl tarps. One is the 13-ounce vinyl laminated polyester tarp. The 13-ounce tarp comes in 9 colors and is UV treated. If you’re using it in a sunny location, it’s a good choice. This waterproof tarp is best for:

  • Welding projects
  • Salvage covers
  • Curtains

The 18-ounce vinyl coated polyester tarp comes in 16 colors. It’s heavier than the 13-ounce laminated tarp, but it’s also UV-treated and waterproof. The 18-ounce tarp resists abrasion and doesn’t rip or tear. Best for:

  • Crop and hay covers
  • Cargo covers on farm trucks and freighters
  • Worksite dividers

What if your tarp needs don’t seem to fall into any of these categories? You might not really know whether you want a waterproof or water-resistant tarp. The wide range of options can seem overwhelming. If you get stuck, you can always ask the professionals for guidance. Sometimes, two types of tarps can fit your needs. If that’s the case, it may come down to colors, weights, and prices and a tarp specialist can help you with the final decision.

Understand the Difference Between Cut Size and Finish Size

Before you order any tarp, check if you’re purchasing a cut size or finish size tarp. Cut size tarps are measured before any finishing work is completed. Finishing work involves putting in the hems, a center seam created where two or more panels of the tarp are joined to form a larger tarp, and adding grommets. Each of these seams of hems reduces the dimensions on each side. Generally, you lose 3 inches for a hem and additional inches in the seams where panels join together. That means you can lose as much as 8-9 inches vertically and horizontally once hems and seams are added. Just remember “cut size” is while it’s being cut and altered and “finish size” is after it’s finished.

Imagine you’re covering a 40 by 60 roof. You order a tarp that’s 40 by 60 feet not realizing the company sells cut size tarps. The tarp arrives and after the panels are joined and hems and grommets are added, you’ve lost 9 inches from each measurement. The tarp is almost a foot too short vertically and horizontally. You suddenly have a tarp that doesn’t cover the entire leaking roof and have to order and wait for another to arrive. All that time, the water keeps leaking in where the tarp doesn’t cover the entire roof.

Finish size is measured after all of the finishing work. When you order finish size tarps, the size you order is exactly what you get. You’ve ordered a tarp that’s 40 by 60 feet in finish size. While it arrives, you open the package and the tarp is definitely 40 by 60 feet and exactly what you need.

There’s another reason you need to be careful about ordering the correct size. Tarps often have a 30-day satisfaction guarantee on tarps, but that guarantee doesn’t cover custom orders or tarp bought by the yard. You could end up out some money if you order using your final dimensions and not cut size dimensions.

Have a Tarp Specialist Help With Your Custom Order

Most tarps at Chicago Canvas are cut size. To order the right size, talk to customer support if you cannot find if the tarp is cut size or finish size. Once you know, make sure you add 6 to 9 inches to your measurements. Adding those extra inches to the sides guarantees the tarp will be the right size. You can also have us help.

Do you want to know the best way to get the right tarp size? Ask for help. Chicago Canvas & Supply’s experts are here to answer your questions. Fill out the custom quote form and give us the dimensions you need. Make sure you specify finish size. We will take care of the calculations for you. We’ll add the correct number of inches to each side to ensure the finish size tarp matches your measurements. Tell us what you need by filling out our custom quote form.

Water Resistant vs. Waterproof Tarps

Have you ever wondered “What is the difference between water-resistant and waterproof tarp material?” This is a very common question, and it’s worth exploring closely. If you choose the wrong one, it may not be as useful as you’d hope.

Waterproof tarps offer complete protection from water or moisture. You can submerge them in a body of water and nothing changes. They will not absorb any moisture. Water-resistant tarps can only repel water for a limited amount of time. In a torrential downpour, the material will get wet and water will start to leak through the tarp. That’s the basic difference between the two.

Look at the difference between a pair of rubber boots and water-resistant leather work boots. Water is not going to get into the rubber boots unless you puncture them. Leather work boots that are treated with a water-resist spray will keep water out for a while. With continuous exposure to water, the leather will start to become saturated and water gets through. You also need to consider how your feet feel in that waterproof rubber boot. It will get sweaty as air doesn’t pass. Leather boots do breathe a little more, so feet don’t sweat quite as much. Tarps work the same way.

You’ll find that water-resistant tarps offer something that a waterproof cannot and vice versa. Knowing the intended usage, how to care for the tarps, and available tarp options is important when you’re deciding which type of tarp is best for you.

Your Best Options for Waterproof Tarps

Why choose waterproof tarps? The waterproof nature makes them appealing. Whatever is stored under the tarp is going to stay dry unless the tarp is damaged. In addition to being waterproof, they resist rips, tears, and abrasion. An added benefit is that many have UV protection. Excessive exposure to the sun will affect a tarp. With UV protection, the life of the tarp is extended. Water will not get through a waterproof vinyl tarp, which makes them ideal for:

  • Boat and car covers
  • Construction and industrial sites
  • Field covers
  • High-strength trucking usage
  • Roofing covers

In addition, these tarps also resist acid, dirt, grease/oil, and mildew. To clean them of grime, wipe the material, rinse it, and let it dry thoroughly before folding it. Waterproof tarps come in a variety of color options, which will matter if you’re looking to create an awning or canopy that matches your home or business’s exterior colors. Here’s a look at some of the waterproof tarps offered at Chicago Canvas.

#1 – Clear PVC Tarps

When you want the light to come through your waterproof tarp, a clear PVC tarp is ideal. They are perfect for covering window or door openings before windows and doors are installed. They make great temporary walls for covered decks/porches and on construction sites. They protect from rain and also block winds, so you’ll get more use from your deck, patio, gazebo, or porch during summer storms.

#2 – Iron Horse Polyester

Iron Horse tarps are tough. They’re twice as strong as cotton canvas tarps. Iron Horse tarps are waterproof and weigh 15 ounces per square yard, which makes them a top choice for awnings, boat covers, canopies, outdoor furniture covers, and shade tents. Choose from 7 colors.

#3 – Vinyl Laminated Polyester

Vinyl laminated waterproof tarps are 14 mils thick and weigh 13 ounces per square yard. If you want a waterproof tarp for a construction site, school gymnasium, theater, or warehouse, this one is flame retardant, which increases safety. They’re a popular choice for room dividers, salvage covers, and welding curtains. There are 9 color options available.

#4 – Vinyl Coated Polyester

At 20 mils thick and 18 ounces per square yard, a vinyl coated tarp is a heavier choice. It doesn’t have the flame retardant properties of a laminated tarp, however. You’ll find this is a great tarp for covering crops and hay, creating awnings or canopies, and putting in non-slip floor covers during construction or renovation projects. If you need covers on your farm or freight trucks, pick the vinyl-coated polyester tarp. There are 16 color options available.

That covers waterproof. One thing that most waterproof tarps don’t offer is breathability. If you need a tarp that allows air to pass through, water-resistant materials are the better option.

Your Best Options for Water Resistant Tarps

For water-resistant tarps, you also have plenty of options. They come in a variety of colors and sizes and include materials like canvas and poly. Water-resistant tarps offer a bit more breathability, which can help prevent condensation from building up under the tarp. If that happens, items exposed to the condensation could get wet. Ideally, water-resistant tarps are meant for conditions where there may be exposure to light rain but not regular downpours. What are the best uses for water-resistant tarps?

  • Camping
  • Covering firewood and lumber
  • Equipment covers
  • Light trucking
  • Privacy screens
  • Protecting supplies and equipment in light rain

When you need to focus on the prevention of condensation under the tarp, water resistance is best. You have three types of water-resistant tarps to consider. Take a closer look at them.

#1 – Canvas Tarps

Canvas tarps are water-resistant due to their oil and wax coating. This helps them resist water and mildew growth, but they’re breathable and help avoid condensation. Water runs right off the canvas tarp thanks to this coating, but it can stain items if water pools and soaks through. They are not good for covering boats or vehicles for that reason.

The coating also has an odor, so it’s not good for indoor use. They’re strong but rip and tear more easily than other tarps. If you’re interested in water-resistant canvas tarps, look at them for covering camping supplies, equipment covers, light trucking, and covering firewood.

When choosing a canvas tarp, there are 16-ounce, 16-ounce fire retardant, and 18-ounce weights. The 16-ounce tarps come in 6 colors, while the 18-ounce canvas tarps come in 2 colors. If you want the protection of flame/fire retardant tarps, the 16-ounce fire retardant canvas tarp only comes in olive drab.

#2 – Heavy-Duty UVR Poly Tarps

These all-purpose UVR poly tarps are designed for heavy use but are relatively lightweight at 7 ounces per square yard and 12 mils thick. They come in two reversible colors (black/silver or white/silver) that reflect UV rays. The water-resistant tarp is a good choice for covering firewood, adding privacy screens, or covering machinery.

#3 – Heavy-Duty Poly Tarps

You can also get heavy-duty poly tarps in several colors that are UV treated. The white, brown/green, or green/silver poly tarps are 8 mils thick and weigh 6 ounces per square yard. Grommets on these tarps increase to 18 inches apart instead of 2 feet. These tarps are regularly used as covers for equipment, firewood, and machinery. They’re also good picnic mats and lawn protectors when landscaping materials like mulch or compost are delivered.

Proper Tarp Care

Whether you need a waterproof or water-resistant tarp, proper care is essential. Make sure the tarp is secured on windy days. You don’t want the wind blowing it around into objects where it could rip the tarp or have a grommet or bungee cord hook hit a window and chip or crack it. With the well-spaced grommets on Chicago Canvas tarps, it’s easy to tie down tarps with rope or cord.

When the tarp isn’t being used, make sure it is stored properly. Use a sponge to scrub stuck-on dirt or grime. Rinse it fully with a hose and hang to dry. Once it’s fully dry, fold it and store it in a container that mice cannot get into. A plastic tub with a lid is one of the best ways to keep the tarp away from mice. It’s important to store it when dry or you could end up with mold growth.

A canvas tarp is treated with oil and wax. It’s important that you do not wash it in a washing machine as that could remove the water-resistant coating. If the water-resistant properties diminish on a canvas tarp, canvas refinishing compounds can extend the life of a water-resistant canvas tarp.

Use the tarp for the reason it’s intended. If you’re covering a load of gravel in a dump truck, a lightweight tarp is not going to stand up to the winds that occur during the trip. Look for a heavy-duty tarp instead. If you’re covering firewood and live in an area where there’s a lot of ice and snow, a heavy-duty tarp is going to last longer than a medium-weight tarp.

Chicago Canvas & Supply carries a wide range of waterproof tarps and water-resistant tarps. Choose from a selection of weights/thicknesses, colors, sizes, and textures. Our tarps have triple-thick hems and brass grommets are placed every two feet on all sides. If you have questions on which tarp is best suited for your specific application, reach us via email (, call us at 1-866-389-2218, or talk to us via live chat.

Industrial Tarps – What Types of Tarps Are Considered Industrial Grade?

To understand the best tarps to pick for industrial use, it helps to know what industrial settings are. It’s the sector that creates products for others. An industry can also be a service that helps an industry within the economy. Aerospace, agriculture, computers/IT, construction, manufacturing, telecommunication, and transportation are all examples of industries. Some of them rely on keeping equipment and goods protected, and that’s where industrial tarps come in.

A tarp is a covering that can help provide shade, keep items dry, contain messes, or help divide an area into different sections. Where do industrial tarps fit in with these needs? How can you be sure you’re getting an industrial tarp that meets your needs?

How Do Industries Use Tarps?

How do you use tarps in an industrial setting? There are so many ways they help. If a roof on a shed or building is leaking, you can protect the equipment and supplies within that area by covering the leak with a waterproof tarp.

Supplies that are stored outside at a construction site are kept dry with a waterproof tarp. You can also use tarps to keep machinery and flooring clean when you’re repainting a wall or ceiling on a construction site. Welding curtains, pallet covers, truck bed covers, cargo covers, work area canopies, and room dividers are other reasons you’d want to choose an industrial tarp.

Important Considerations When Choosing an Industrial Tarp

Before you buy an industrial tarp, you need to carefully consider the right tarp for your needs. Quality is the top consideration. An industrial setting calls for a durable, heavy-duty tarp. One of the ways to determine a tarp’s durability is by checking the weight and thickness. Tarps are often listed in either ounces (the weight per square yard) or by thickness in mils (1/1000th of an inch). The heavier or thicker a tarp, the stronger it is, but there are other factors to consider.

The fabric used to make a tarp also impacts the quality. Canvas is a strong material, but it isn’t always ideal as moisture may get through. They may be more expensive, but they resist abrasion and are usually flame retardant. Laminated or coated vinyl is often preferred. They’re strong like canvas tarps and the coating makes them waterproof or water-resistant. Poly tarps are often the weakest of the tarp materials, but they are lightweight and most are waterproof. Finally, there’s a PVC tarp that is flexible and durable. It’s also clear so light gets through. If you add a protective UV coating to a material, it prevents the tarp from getting damaged by the sun.

The tarp has to be the right size for the job. Before you purchase a tarp, find out if the sizes given are cut size or finish size. Cut size is the measurement of the tarp before hems and grommets are added. The finish size is the final size and is often three inches less on each side. If the cut size says 10 x 10′, the finish size would be around 9.5 x 9.5′. If you cannot find if the tarp is cut size or finish size, ask the customer help team before you complete your purchase.

When you’re looking at tarps, find out if it comes in different colors. This may not matter, but there are circumstances where you will want to have a choice of colors. For example, if you are using an industrial tarp to wall off a warehouse to create temporary offices or cubicles while a building is cleaned after a flood, you might want different colors to make it easy for people to find the department they need. Blue could be billing and red could be sales. It makes organization easier to manage.

How do you plan to install the industrial tarp? The tarps at Chicago Canvas have grommets to make it easier to secure the tarp using rope, cable, or bungee cords. For floor coverings, you’ll likely use tape or weights. Make sure the tarp is going to be easy to hang or secure before making your final choice.

Our Picks for the Best Industrial Tarps

What do we recommend when it comes to a tarp that stands up to industrial use? Consider these tarps and pay close attention to some of the ways business owners have put them to use over the years.

13 oz Vinyl Laminated Polyester Tarps

This is a prime choice for industries that use welding curtains. The material isn’t super heavy, but it’s still durable and has a UV treatment that helps protect it from sun damage. The vinyl laminated tarp is waterproof and flame retardant. It’s 14 mils thick and resists rips and tears. In addition to being a popular option for welding curtains, it’s also a good divider curtain or salvage cover.

18 oz Canvas Tarps

An 18 oz canvas tarp resists water, but it’s a breathable cotton material that prevents condensation. This makes it a good choice for covering cargo and equipment on a construction site or in an industrial setting. They’re also used as truck covers when hauling agricultural products like wood shavings and bedding materials. As they are treated to give the cotton a water-resistant finish, these tarps are not meant to cover cars or boats where damage to the finish is possible.

18 oz Vinyl Coated Polyester Tarps

If you need a waterproof tarp that stands up to excessive use, the 18 oz vinyl coated polyester tarp is ideal. The weight is 18 ounces, and it’s 20 mils thick, which makes it one of the strongest tarps we have. It’s often the first choice for companies in need of industrial divider curtains, cargo/equipment covers, and floor covers. If you need an awning or cover to protect workers who go outside to smoke or take their lunch breaks outside, this type of tarp is a great choice.

Clear PVC Tarps

On a construction site, a clear PVC tarp is ideal for creating temporary walls to keep wind and rain out of window and door openings. As they are clear, outside light is still able to get through. PVC tarp is waterproof and resists abrasion. They’re also treated to prevent damage from UV rays.

Iron Horse Polyester Tarps

Why are Iron Horse tarps a leading choice for industrial use? They’re strong. In fact, Iron Horse polyester tarps are twice as strong as canvas tarps. They’re breathable to prevent condensation, but they’re waterproof at the same time. These tarps are also popular because they don’t have a chemical smell or treatment that causes stains. Choose Iron Horse tarps for outdoor shade structures and awnings.

Polypropylene Mesh Tarps

Do you want to put up screening to keep people from seeing what’s going on at a construction site? Polypropylene mesh tarps work well. They block out 95% of the light. The tarps are hard to see through, but they still allow air to pass. When it comes to partnering privacy with airflow to keep a construction site from heating up too much, this is a great choice.

Chicago Canvas & Supply has been supplying industrial fabrics and other products for 70 years. When you need heavy-duty tarps for an industrial setting, we can help you choose the right fabric, weight, and size. We may have what you need in one of our many size options, or you can have us make a custom-size tarp. Give us a call and let our experts help you find the right tarp for your industry.

Expensive vs. Cheap Tarps – The Top Tarps For Your Money That Will Last

When you purchase a cheap tarp at a discount retailer, you’re getting a low-quality tarp that breaks down in a year or two. Even with the utmost care, it’s unlikely you’ll get more than five years of life out of the tarp. Exposure to UV rays, wind, ice, and abrasion all break down the material over time. Are you truly saving money if you’re replacing your tarp every couple of years? Say you’re replacing your 8 x 10′ cheap tarp every year or two. By the end of a decade, you’ve spent as much as $100. You could get a high-quality Iron Horse tarp of the same size for under $90. You’ve saved money.

There’s another factor that people don’t always stop to consider. When your tarp is ruined, you can’t recycle it. Tarps end up in the landfill where they do not break down easily. Plastics need UV rays to degrade the fastest. Australia’s Department of Environment and Conservation estimates that a plastic bag takes up to 20 years to break down while plastic bottles take up to 450 years. The longer a tarp lasts, the better it is for the environment. You don’t want to fill landfills with tarps that take decades to deteriorate. Do this by getting the best tarp for the money and choose one of these five tarps you need to choose.

#1 – 13 oz Vinyl Laminated Poly Tarp

If you need a tough tarp that’s also flame retardant, the vinyl laminated poly tarp is best. It’s a UV-treated polyester that resists ripping. It’s waterproof and resists mildew. It’s often chosen as a welding curtain, divider curtain, or salvage cover. Separate a large area like a gym into different areas by hanging it like curtains. You shouldn’t use a vinyl laminated poly tarp in freezing temperatures. Cold weather will cause the material to stiffen and crack.

Purchase vinyl laminated poly tarps in nine colors (black, blue, green, grey, red, tan, translucent, white, and yellow). It’s also sold in sizes ranging from 5 x 7′ to 20 x 30′. If you need a custom size, you can make the arrangements with a tarp specialist at Chicago Canvas.

#2 – 18 oz Canvas Tarpaulin

The 18 oz canvas tarpaulin is the heaviest of the 100% cotton tarps Chicago Canvas sells. It is water-resistant and also resists mildew as it is breathable. Because the material breathes, it doesn’t build up condensation when it is used as a cover. The tarp comes in two colors (black and gold) and sizes ranging from 5 x 7′ to 30 x 30′. Custom sizes are also available if you need one.

Canvas tarps are stronger than some polyester tarps. They are often the first choice in industrial settings due to that strength. They can stain, so they’re not meant to be used as vehicle or boat covers. Use them to protect outdoor equipment, cargo, and supplies. If you have a truck full of mulch to transport, the tarp will keep it from flying out in traffic. You can also use them on a construction site to keep lumber dry until it’s needed.

#3 – 18 oz Vinyl Coated Polyester Tarp

Vinyl coated polyester tarps are durable and waterproof. They don’t rip, tear, or wear down due to abrasion. They are thick and stand up to UV exposure no matter if it’s hot outside or brutally cold. It’s also one of the thickest tarps (20 mils) that you’ll find. Find it in 16 colors (black, brown, burgundy, camouflage, green, grey, kelly green, navy blue, orange, pink, purple, red, royal blue, tan, white, and yellow). They come in sizes ranging from 5 x 7′ to 20 x 30′ and custom sizes.

Choose the vinyl coated polyester tarp to cover farm equipment, hay/mulch, crops, and vehicles. You can also use it as a divider curtain, non-slip floor cover when painting, or for shade awnings and patio canopies. Vinyl coated polyester tarps are often used to cover baseball fields between rainstorms.

#4 – Heavy Duty UVR Poly Tarps

Heavy duty UVR poly tarps aren’t the heaviest tarp in this list, but they are 12 mils thick, which makes them strong and durable. They also have UV protection, which keeps UV rays from breaking down the tarp material. This tarp has rust-proof grommets spaced every two feet to make it easy to secure. It resists mildew and water. They are not likely to rip or tear with excessive use.

Choose heavy duty UVR poly tarps to cover firewood or wood pellet bags. Use it as a privacy screen on a deck or fence. Use them when camping, to cover lawn equipment or machinery, or cover a boat that’s not being used. You can cover cars with this tarp, too. Don’t worry about it staining the finish of your vehicle or boat. The tarps come in black or white and in sizes ranging from 6 x 8′ to 50 x 50′.

#5 – Iron Horse Polyester Tarps

The toughest tarp you’ll find is the Iron Horse polyester tarp. It comes in seven colors (black, blue, brown, green, grey, tan, and white). This tarp is twice as tough as a canvas tarp. It’s completely waterproof and doesn’t stain or smell of plastic. It’s also breathable, which helps prevent mildew and condensation.

Iron Horse polyester tarps are ideal for boat and vehicle covers, covers for patio and deck furniture, and awnings and canopies for shade. Purchase this tarp in sizes ranging from 5 x 7′ to 30 x 30′. If you need a custom size, Chicago Canvas & Supply sells this tarp in custom sizes, too.

How Do You Extend the Life of Your Tarp?

To be sure you get a tarp that will last, what should you be looking for? Make sure you match the tarp to your intended use. If you’re looking for a cover for your boat, you do not want a tarp that’s going to stain. You also want one that’s waterproof but breathable to prevent the development of mildew. If you’re adding temporary walls to a covered deck for the winter, you want a tarp that stands up to UV light and is durable in below-zero weather. When you’re using it, tie-downs and bungee cords help secure it in place to keep it from shifting in the wind. If it’s over a sharp edge or corner, put down some foam or old towels between the tarp and edge/corner to prevent damage.

Treat your tarp with care. Never put a tarp away when it’s still wet or damp. Don’t put it away when it’s dirty. It needs to be clean and dry before it’s folded and stored. To do this, use a cleaning agent recommended for the type of tarp, scrub any stuck-on debris, and rinse it with a hose after you’ve used it and need to put it away. Once it’s clean and rinsed, hang it on a clothesline in the sun for hours so that it has time to thoroughly dry. When it is dry, have others help you fold it. You don’t want to have it hit the damp ground or land in dirt or mud and have to start the process all over. It must be clean and dry before it’s stored.

Keep the tarp stored in an airtight container that mice can’t get into. If you’re keeping your tarp in a garage or shed and a mouse gets in, it can destroy the tarp while it’s making a nest. If it’s in a container, you don’t have to worry about losing a tarp to mouse damage. If it does get damaged, look for repair kits that can help fix rips or tears and extend the life of your tarp. If you don’t have room for a container, hang the tarp somewhere a mouse won’t get it. You could hang it from your garage rafters instead.

After plenty of use, a canvas tarp may need to be retreated with the preserving agent like Canvak. This helps refresh the canvas tarp’s water-resistant nature. You won’t need to do this to other types of tarps, so you may want to think about that when you’re choosing your tarp. Canvas tarps may require a little more care to maintain their water-resistant nature, which can require extra time before storing the tarp when it’s not needed.

Are you looking for a size that’s not shown above? Chicago Canvas provides custom sizes on many of the tarps we sell. Note that many of our tarps are cut size. When the hems and seams are finished, it can take a few inches off each size. Make sure you’re factoring this into the size you order. As an example, if you need a tarp to cover a 10 x 10′ patio, you’d want a cut size tarp that’s at least 10.5 x 10.5′ to allow for room for the hem. Giving that little bit extra and ordering an 11 x 11′ tarp is the safer route to take. If you have any questions or need help deciding what size is best for your project, contact us via phone, email, or live chat.

How To Make Homemade Face Masks Using Canvas & Cloth For COVID19

Please Note: Chicago Canvas is in no way suggesting a homemade mask is better than a FDA approved N-95 mask or better.  Initial suggestions from the CDC suggestions any mask is better than none.  This information is meant to be used in cases where traditional masks are unavailable.  

Around the country, people who can sew are being asked to make homemade face masks for area hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities caring for coronavirus patients. While a homemade face mask isn’t ideal, shortages have made them better than using nothing.

UChicago Medicine and many other hospitals accept donations of face masks that have been made following certain guidelines. Wash your hands before you handle the fabric and other crafting supplies. If you have a fever or other symptoms of COVID-19, do not participate. If you’ve been exposed to someone who tested positive for the virus, you should not make the masks.

You might live in a state, town, or city where residents are being asked to wear a homemade face mask when they’re outside or in a public area. The CDC recommends them in grocery stores and pharmacies. If you need a homemade fabric face mask, you need to know how to make them.

Start with a sterile surface that you’ve wiped with a disinfectant wipe or spray the work area with the CDC’s preferred mixture of one gallon of cool water to 1/3 cup bleach. One of the chemical ingredients in bleach loses its effectiveness when it’s exposed to temperatures of 70 degrees F or warmer. When you’re sanitizing areas, also take the time to clean equipment like scissors and the surfaces the fabric will touch on the sewing machine.

The Best Materials for Making Face Masks

An independent test suggests that canvas is one of the best materials for makeshift masks.

The material used to make homemade face masks must be 100% cotton. It cannot be a stretchy material, such as the cotton fabric t-shirts are made of. Chicago Canvas has several cotton materials that work well to make homemade masks.

Canvas drop cloths work in a pinch, though many feel that cotton duck canvas is your best choice. You can also use colored cotton canvas if the plain color isn’t appealing to you. Color really isn’t as important as having a functional mask when other face mask supplies are low. Natural duck canvas is affordable and comes in 5 or 10′ widths, so you can get a lot of fabric for less. Imagine all the masks a full roll of canvas could make!

We recommend cotton duck fabric. It’s smooth, comfortable, and doesn’t rip or tear easily. Get it in rolls of up to 50 yards if you want a lot of material or purchase it in running yards. Make sure you’re choosing a canvas that is not primed. Some canvas materials are primed for use for painting. You want natural 100% cotton canvas when you’re making homemade face masks for coronavirus.

Test the fabric out before you use it. Take a piece of the fabric and fold it in half. If you can’t see through it, but you can breathe through it, it’s a good choice. Ask Chicago Canvas & Supply for samples or reach out to our fabric specialists at (773) 478-5700. We’re happy to help you decide on the right canvas for the homemade face masks you’re making.

Wash the Material First

Before you get started, wash the material in hot water with laundry detergent. Use a vinegar rinse rather than a fabric softener, which might be irritating to someone with sensitive skin. Place the fabric in the dryer and dry thoroughly at the hottest possible setting. You need the material to pre-shrink as the final mask must fit snug around the mouth, but it needs to allow the person wearing it to talk to co-workers.

Gather Your Supplies

While the material is washing and drying, gather the supplies you need. You want a sewing machine, thread for the sewing machine, pins, a metal ruler, and fabric shears/scissors. A steam iron helps you form the lines that will help when you’re forming pleats. Freezer bags to put the finished masks will also be useful as you can note how many are in the bag and what sizes the masks in that bag are. Use a permanent marker to do this so that the ink doesn’t rub off.

Making the Masks

Once the fabric is washed and dried, cut the material into the pieces you need to sew the mask. Use the metal ruler to get straight edges. If you’re making 20 masks, you’d need to multiply the per-mask fabric components by 20 (or, 40 squares, 40 short strips, and 80 long strips). The pieces you need for one mask are:

  • Two rectangles measuring 7.5 by 5 inches for small masks, 9 by 6 inches for medium masks, and 10 by 7 inches for large masks.
  • Two 6, 7, or 7.5-inch strips (again for small, medium, or large) x 1.5 inch strips
  • Four 15 by 1.5-inch strips

If you have bias tape, you can use that instead of cutting the four strips of fabric that each mask requires. The materials mustn’t be metallic. They are not comfortable when you’re wearing them for extended periods.

Once the pieces are cut, it’s time to start assembling and sewing. Wash your hands regularly during the process. The cleaner your hands are, the safer it is for the professionals who will be using them.

#1 – Make the Mask Section

Take two same-size rectangles and lay them together. Sew each side about ¼ inch in from the edge. Turn the fabric rectangle so that the shorter sides are vertical. Take six pins and create pleats along each of the short edges.

To create the pleats, fold the fabric rectangle in half. Press with an iron to create a center seam. Fold each half into half to create another seam. Use those lines to form evenly spaced pleats and pin them into place. Once that’s done, remove the pins.

#2 – Add the Side Binding

Take the two shorter strips and fold one so that ¼ inch stands up. Sew the other side to the short edge of the rectangular face mask. Bring the other folded side around the back of the mask and sew it again. Repeat this on the other edge with the second short strip. Make sure the corners are sewn. Trim any excess.

#3 – Add the Ties to All Four Corners

Take the four long straps and fold a small section on each long side. Put them together and sew the long end to form a straight hem. Do the same with the ends. You don’t want any loose fabric that may fray. Sew each of the ties to a corner of the mask. These ties go above and below the ears and around the back of the head once the face mask covers the mouth and nose.

#4 – Look Them Over

Look over each mask after you make it. Make sure there are no exposed edges. While canvas is a strong material, you don’t want to have left edges that haven’t been sewn. If you do, there is a small chance they’ll fray. Medical professionals do not need to have masks that are fraying when they’re dealing with a contagious virus. Take the time to check them over. If you’re not sure how to hide the fraying, add an extra strip of bias tape or another binding strip.

Options That May Make Face Mask Construction Easier

If you want to avoid sewing the ties that go around the back of the head, purchase stretchy elastic bands. Cut them into 6.5-inch lengths. You’ll sew the elastic straps to each corner of the mask to wrap around the ears. Do this before the second step. You’ll cover them with the short binding strips for extra security and to hide the rough (unsewn) edges.

If you need visual assistance, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital in New Hampshire has a printable PDF with links to instructional videos. Many hospitals are referring to the Dartmouth guide as the instructions are easy to follow and there are the videos to help out if you learn better by watching someone else.

To make things even easier, the CDC has come up with a video for homemade face masks that require no sewing. You need a square of 100% cotton. Reach out to Chicago Canvas & Supply for suggestions on the right cotton canvas for your homemade face mask. Sign up for our email newsletter to get discounts and access to exclusive promotions.

How to Build Makeshift Room Dividers to Help With COVID-19

Worldwide, more than 2.2 million people have become infected with COVID-19 as of April 4th. More than 310,000 people in the U.S. alone have the virus. There have also been more than 66,500 deaths in the world and close to 8,500 in the U.S. Hospitals in many regions are full. Makeshift medical centers are going up in tents, ships, colleges, and other buildings.

If you’re helping set up a makeshift medical ward, room dividers are a must. Beds need to be separated from each other to stop the spread. These room dividers need to block the flow of air, be easy to clean, and cover from the ceiling to the floor. This guide to building a makeshift room divider makes the job easy.

The Materials That Are Best for Coronavirus Room Dividers

If you’re making room dividers for a COVID-19 ward, we have three materials to recommend you use. You want a material that is easy to wipe down. It should have coatings that resist the growth of microbes and fungi like mildew. You don’t want a breathable fabric. These are the three tarps you should consider.

#1 – Clear PVC Tarps

Clear PVC tarps are  great as room dividers and curtains. The waterproof, antifungal tarps wipe clean and at 18 ounces are thick and protective. Whether this is a good choice for you depends on the situation. They’re clear, which eliminates some of the privacy patients may want. On the other hand, they allow nurses and doctors to monitor patients without having to leave a spot. They can look around the room and see if anyone seems to be in distress. Clear PVC tarps come in sizes up to 10′ x 12′.

As you’re looking for durable room dividers and curtains, you may come across commando cloth curtains. They are durable and flame retardant, but they’re not going to wipe clean as the vinyl-coated or vinyl-laminated tarps do. You would have to wash the curtains in between patients, which is not ideal. We say stick with the vinyl or PVC tarps for the ease of cleaning and assurance that the curtains do not absorb any body fluids.

#2 – 13-Ounce Vinyl Laminated Polyester Tarps

One of our preferred choices for COVID-19 room dividers is the 13-ounce vinyl laminated polyester tarps. The coated polyester tarps are waterproof. If the patient’s cough produces sputum, the vinyl tarp wipes down with ease. The body fluid is not going to soak into the makeshift wall. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Most important, it is a fire retardant tarp, which meets many guidelines for treating airborne infectious diseases. You can get the 13-ounce vinyl laminated tarps in nine sizes up to 20′ x 30′. These tarps come in nine colors, which makes it easy to color-code areas for quick identification.

#3 – 18-Ounce Vinyl Coated Polyester Tarps

If you want something heavier than the 13-ounce tarps, 18-ounce vinyl coated polyester tarps are even more durable and offer the same fire retardant qualities as the 13-ounce tarps. They are thicker and offer the best abrasion and tear resistance properties of these two options. Again, they are antifungal and waterproof. Get these tarps in 10 sizes (up to 20′ x 30′) and 16 colors. As they are heavier, you need to make sure the system you use for hanging them can handle the extra weight.

Sizing the Tarps for Your Makeshift Room Dividers

Getting the right size is critical for makeshift medical rooms. The tarp you use for a medical cubicle should reach from ceiling to floor without leaving gaps. Gaps allow germs to pass through when a patient coughs or sneezes. You don’t want that to happen, so you need to find out if the tarp you’re about to order is the cut size or finish size. If you need a 10′ x 10′ tarp and don’t see it’s cut size before finishing your order, you could end up a few inches short. Cut size tarps are measured before the seams and grommets are installed.

When the seams are added, it takes around three inches per side away from the tarp. The extra material is folded over and heat-sealed to form the seam. Grommets are then added into that seam. A 10′ x 10′ tarp that’s cut size would be more like 9.5′ by 9.5′ when the seams and grommets are added. Ask for a custom quote for finish size tarps if you want to be certain you have the correct vinyl tarp to form the walls in your temporary facility. Our customer support team is happy to answer questions and ensure you purchase the correct size.

How to Form the Walls With the Tarps

How do you hang these room dividers in a temporary medical facility? The answer depends on where you’re forming that makeshift medical ward. If you’re in a building with solid walls and ceilings, curtain tracks work well. The roller tracks have hooks on curtain trolleys that make it easy to hang the curtains and open and close them as needed. Chicago Canvas has roller track sections, ceiling supports, wall mounts, and curtain trolleys.

If you’re in a tent, you will need tall poles with weighted bases to hold the tarps. Search for pipe and drape room divider kits for temporary walls. These are your best options when you have no hard surface to hang the tarps from. Secure the tarps to the room divider framing using 550 paracord or rubber tie-downs with “S” hooks. Paracord is easiest to work with and is designed for heavy use.

Vinyl tarps come with grommets spaced about two feet apart. Hang the tarp from the top bar of your room divider kit or a curtain track. Pull the sides taut to secure to a vertical pole or wall. Do the same on the other side. If you don’t have a way to secure the sides of the temporary room dividers to the walls, be creative. You could use heavy-duty waterproof duct tape or weigh the bottom of the tarp with small sandbags or other weights to prevent the walls from shifting as people walk around.

Chicago Canvas & Supply is an essential business and is shipping orders during the pandemic. If you need tarps for makeshift room dividers, call us. We’ll help you choose the right tarps and help you select the correct size to ensure there are no gaps to help stop the spread. If you need ways to hang the room dividers we have suggestions to help. Reach us at 1-866-389-2218.

How Are Tarps Sized and Measured?

You took measurements. You checked your measurements three times. You’re certain you got the right dimensions. But, the tarp’s arrived and it’s too small. It doesn’t cover the entire roof or patio you’re trying to protect. It’s too short to completely seal a door or wall opening and allows cold air or construction dust to get through. You’re not alone. Others have experienced the same frustration. It all comes down to two terms: cut size and finish size.

When you order a tarp, you need to double-check with the company if the tarp is cut size or finish size. It does make a difference. You could order a cut-size tarp in a 20 by 20′ square only to find it’s smaller when you get it. That’s not only frustrating, but it can leave you with a useless tarp that won’t fit the area needed for your intended use. Some companies don’t allow returns either. It leaves you with a tarp you cannot use or send back for a refund. Chicago Canvas & Supply is here to help you get the right size and material every time.

Understanding Cut Size

Before placing your order, make sure you know if the tarp is cut size or finish size. If you can’t find it, use the retailer’s online chat system or call to verify. The reason why this is essential is that cut size is the size of a tarp before the company adds any hems and/or seams.

Generally, hems and seams take up an extra 3 inches. If you’ve ordered a cut-size tarp that measures 10 by 10′, by the time the hem is added, you’ve lost a half-foot from the top and bottom and another half-foot from the left and right sides. That 10 by 10′ tarp now measures 9.5 by 9.5′.

If you need an oversized tarp, the company may need to sew two tarps together to get the right width. That seam is going to use up a few inches. Putting together two cut-size tarps of 30 by 30′ each wouldn’t give you a full 60′ tarp. It’s going to be short a few inches. You’d need to order extra to get to your goal.

How the Finish Size Differs

If a tarp states it is finish size, the hems and any seams have already been added. Nothing is going to be folded over and sewn. You’re not going to lose inches to the finishing work and addition of grommets. If you order a finish-size tarp that stays it is 10 by 10′, you get the full 10 by 10′ tarp.

Finish-size tarps are often the tarps you find in home improvement stores and discount retailers. They may not be the weight you need. They also may only be water-resistant instead of waterproof, and that’s another consideration to keep in mind.

Make Sure You Measure Correctly

Cut size and finish size are an important concern when you buy a tarp. There’s another thing you need to consider. Many projects require a tarp that’s a little larger than the area you’re covering. For instance, your roof is leaking. You need a tarp that will cover the area that’s leaking. You also want a little extra to keep water from seeping in on the edges.

If you’re using a tarp to act as a sunshade over a sandbox, you want enough to expand beyond the play area. That way, your children are still protected as the sun shifts. Covering a woodpile works best if you factor in a few inches for overhang. Adding a few extra inches protects or shades the full area and doesn’t leave you with gaps or shortages.

Chicago Canvas & Supply’s tarp listings are cut size. That will help you buy a tarp that doesn’t leave you frustrated. If you purchase a tarp from us, add half a foot to the measurements you need. For example, if you need a 10 by 10′ tarp, order 10.5 by 10.5′. If you do have questions, our experts are available via online chat, by phone (1-866-389-2218), or by clicking “Get a Quote.”

Our custom quotes are free. Let us know why you need the tarp and your dimensions. Be sure to specify if your measurement is the finish size or if you used cut size measurements. We’ll return our quote within one business day. We’re happy to answer your questions, go over the tarp materials that match your needs, and help you purchase an affordable tarp that is designed to last for years.