The Pros and Cons of Muslin Backdrops

Before purchasing a backdrop, it’s important to research the different fabric options so you can determine which one is right for you. A number of different fabrics are often used as backdrops, including muslin, which is a medium-weight woven cotton fabric. Here are the pros and cons of muslins backdrops:

Pro: Durability

Perhaps the biggest advantage of a muslin backdrop is its durability. Muslin is a reusable fabric that can easily withstand normal wear and tear, so your backdrop will look as good as new after multiple uses. Unlike other fabrics, it will not tear if someone accidentally steps on it while working on set. There’s also no way to scuff the surface of muslin, so there’s no need to panic if someone accidentally runs into the backdrop.

Pro: Easy to Store and Transport

Fabrics often become damaged or unusable if they are not stored or transported carefully, but that’s not the case with muslin. There’s no need to carefully store muslin in between uses–simply stuff it into a bag when you’re done with it. Folding it neatly will create creases in muslin that must be removed before use, so it’s actually better to keep it stuffed in a bag so you can prevent creases.

Pro: Appearance

Many photographers and stage designers prefer muslin backdrops over other fabrics because of the way it looks. Muslin holds onto dyes better than other fabrics, so the colors are more vivid and saturated. It can also be colored to create an “old master” style backdrop, which features lighter colors in the center of the backdrop surrounded by darker colors on the edges. Although many backdrops are solid colored, muslin often comes in a variety of fun and creative patterns.

There are countless options to choose from when it comes to muslin backdrops. There are many different ways to add color, richness, and texture to a muslin backdrop, which is why so many creative professionals are drawn to this fabric.

Pro: Non-Reflective Surface

Muslin is also a non-reflective fabric. The flash of a camera or the shine of the spotlight will not reflect off of a muslin backdrop and distract from the models or actors on set.

Pro: The Price

A high quality backdrop does not come cheap. But, muslin is inexpensive compared to other popular backdrop options, including canvas. Some people think that muslin is priced too high, however it’s important to remember that this is a low maintenance and durable fabric that will last for years, so it’s a wise investment.

Pro: Thickness of the Fabric

Muslin is not extremely thick, but it is thick enough to block light from shining through it. This is another reason why so many photographers and stage designers love working with muslin. Because it blocks light, photographers can use the flash on their cameras without worrying about capturing whatever is sitting behind the backdrop. Stage designers can shine spotlights brightly onto actors without worrying about whether or not the silhouettes of objects behind the backdrop will become visible. This is a common problem with other fabrics, which is why this gives muslin such a huge advantage over its competitors.

Pro: Easy to Handle

Muslin is thick enough to block out light, but its thickness does not add a great deal of weight to this fabric. Most creative professionals find that muslin is very easy to handle and transport because it is so lightweight. This fabric is so light that it can be hung from many different types of support, which makes setting up a photo shoot in an unconventional or outdoor location much easier. There’s no need to bring in professional equipment to support the backdrop as long as you can improvise with something that is available on set.

Pro: Draped or Hung

Muslin was widely used to create dresses in the past because it is so easy to drape. This quality also makes it perfect for photo shoots and stages. Muslin backdrops can be draped over objects on set to hide props that the photographer or director does not want the audience to see.

Con: Used Frequently

Creative professionals recognize the many benefits that muslin has to offer, which is why this fabric is frequently used as a backdrop on professional photo shoots and on stage. The fact that muslin is so popular makes it unappealing to some creative professionals. If you want a unique-looking backdrop that will turn heads, muslin is probably not the best choice because many people in the industry use it on a regular basis.

Con: Absorbent Material

Muslin is an absorbent material, so if someone accidentally spills something onto the backdrop, it will absorb quickly and could stain. But fortunately, muslin is a machine washable fabric. If something spills on the fabric and absorbs before you can clean it up, simply toss the muslin into a washing machine to reverse the damage.

Con: Wrinkled Texture

As previously mentioned, it is possible to create deep creases and wrinkles in muslin fabric if it is not stored correctly. No one wants to see wrinkles on their backdrop, which is why this is one of the main disadvantages of using this fabric. The wrinkles can be removed using a handheld steamer, but this takes time that many creative professionals do not have while on set.

It’s clear that the pros of muslin backdrops greatly outweigh the several disadvantages of this fabric. If you’re interested in purchasing muslin backdrops, contact Chicago Canvas & Supply. We are your leading source for backdrops, textiles, theatre fabrics, tarps, drop cloths, and more. We are happy to send free material samples to our clients. To place a request for samples, contact us today by calling 1-866-389-2218 or emailing email@chicagocanvas.com.

How Does Rip Stop Nylon Work?

Rip stop nylon is not a household name like cotton or silk, but it is a fabric that is commonly used in the entertainment industry. As its name suggests, rip stop nylon is a type of fabric that is incredibly resistant to rips and tears. In fact, rip style nylon is designed to prevent small rips and tears from spreading and completely destroying the entire piece of fabric. Because of its durability, rip stop nylon is often used to create tents, sails, sleeping bags, and even military parachutes. But, this fabric is also ideal for set designers and photographers that need a long lasting stage backdrop or banner.

How Rip Stop Nylon is Made

To understand how rip stop nylon works, it’s important to learn the history of nylon itself. Throughout history, people have turned to nylon when they are in need of a durable fabric. Nylon is a synthetic material that was first used to create toothbrush bristles in the late 1930s. The interest in this material began to grow once it was used to create women’s pantyhose, which are often referred to as nylons. But, the demand reached its peak in World War II, when nearly all of the nylon produced in the U.S. was used to create parachutes and other gear for the military. It was during this time that rip stop nylon was invented. The companies that were manufacturing parachutes for military members were looking for another fabric that could replace the use of silk in their products. They wanted a fabric that was just as lightweight as silk, but much more durable. The result was rip stop nylon, which is now widely used to create countless products for consumers.

Rip stop nylon is a lightweight material that consists entirely of nylon fabric. But, rip stop nylon is not standard nylon. Rip stop nylon is created by weaving nylon threads through a piece of fabric (typically cotton, polyester, or nylon) that serves as the base material. The nylon threads create an interlocking pattern that makes the material far more durable and resistant to rips and tears. If part of the fabric does happen to rip, the interlocked threading will stop the rip in its tracks and prevent it from spreading.

How to Spot Rip Stop Nylon

It’s possible that there are products made out of rip stop nylon in your home or garage at this very moment. Many common household items are made out of rip stop nylon, including equipment or furniture covers, tarps, kites, sleeping bags, camping equipment, and flags. It’s easy to spot rip stop nylon–that is, as long as you know what to look for.

The main difference between standard nylon and rip stop nylon is the interlocked threading that increases the durability of the fabric. The interlocked pattern is not visible from a distance, but if you get close to the fabric, you should spot the nylon threads weaving in and out of the base material. The interlocked pattern typically adds a three-dimensional texture to the fabric that is hard to miss. If you see or feel this interlocked pattern, this indicates that it is a rip stop nylon instead of standard nylon material.

Other Features of Rip Stop Nylon

A high resistance to rips is not the only benefit that rip stop nylon offers. Rip stop nylon is also fire retardant, which makes it the perfect backdrop for photo shoots and plays. This fabric is available in a wide variety of colors as well, so you should not have any trouble finding the perfect shade to complement your set. Black or white rip stop nylon is ideal for photographers or set  managers that want a subtle, solid backdrop that will not distract the audience. However, there are also bright and bold colors available, including teal, royal blue, yellow, orange, and silver.

Even though this fabric is strong, it is also surprisingly light. Set managers and photographers love how easy it is to set up a rip stop nylon backdrop. There’s no need to call for backup or try to find an extra set of hands–it’s so lightweight, it can easily be handled by one person.

The fabric is available in several different thicknesses. The thinnest option is somewhat sheer and fairly breathable, which makes it ideal for clothing and athletic uniforms. Thin rip stop nylon is also softer to the touch with more flexibility, whereas thicker rip stop nylon fabric is more rigid and coarse. Although thin fabric is ideal for clothing, it is best to use a thicker rip stop nylon as a photo shoot or stage backdrop.

Some varieties of rip stop nylon are waterproof, too. If you are planning on using the fabric outdoors, it’s best to look for one that is waterproof so it is not damaged if it happens to rain.

Rip stop nylon is also affordable–especially when compared to other textiles and fabrics that are used as backdrops. This material is priced by the yard, so you never have to pay for fabric that you won’t use. Don’t let the low price fool you–this is not a one-time use fabric. This fabric is durable enough for repeated use as long as it is stored properly between uses.

There are countless benefits to using rip stop nylon as a backdrop for your next photo shoot or play. If you’re interested in purchasing high quality rip stop nylon, contact Chicago Canvas & Supply now. We are your leading source for textiles, theatre fabrics, tarps, drop cloths, backdrops, and more. To place a request for free material samples or to learn more about our many products, contact us today by calling 1-866-389-2218 or emailing email@chicagocanvas.com.

5 Uses For Chroma Key (Green Screen) Fabric

Chroma key is a cotton fabric that is known for its unique green color. This color does more than just brighten the room–it also serves as what is known as a “green screen.”

A green screen is a type of backdrop that is often used in the entertainment industry. Actors frequently film scenes in front of green screens, but the chroma key fabric won’t end up in the final cut of the movie. Instead, the media technicians remove the green screen from the shot and replace it with whatever background they’d like. This allows movie directors to shoot scenes in fantastical settings without ever leaving the studio.

People outside of Hollywood use green screens, too. In fact, there are plenty of uses for this fascinating fabric. Here are five creative ways to use green screens:

Film A Music Video

Showcase your musical talents by filming a music video in front of a green screen. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars so you can film the video in a unique location as long as you are standing in front of a green screen. Sing or play your heart out, then edit the video so you can remove the green screen and replace it with an eye-catching background. You can even use multiple backgrounds so it seems as if you are traveling to different locations during the music video. This is a great way to put your creativity to the test and promote your musical act.

Unleash Your Super Powers

You can also use a green screen to unleash your secret super powers. Have you ever dreamed of being invisible? If so, make this dream a reality with the help of a green screen. Instead of posing in front of the green screen, wrap the chroma key fabric around your body. The parts of your body that are covered by fabric will appear to be invisible after the film has been edited.

It’s also possible to create the illusion that you are a superhero capable of flying or leaping across tall buildings. To do this, place the chroma key fabric on the floor. You should be standing in front of another chroma key green screen as well. Now, you can edit out your surroundings and make it look as if you are jumping from building-to-building or mountain-to-mountain without breaking a sweat! Make it even more believable by setting up a fan to blow your hair and superhero cape in the wind.

You can unleash the power of time travel with a green screen as well. Insert yourself into historical scenes so it appears that you have traveled back in time. Be sure that every inch of your surroundings is covered by chroma key fabric so everything can be removed in the editing room. If an inch of your surroundings is visible, your audience may question your super powers!

Step Into Your Favorite Story

Many people wonder what it would be like to interact with their favorite fictional characters. This may seem impossible, but a green screen can make it happen. Pick out a scene from your favorite movie or TV show and memorize the physical location of the characters on the screen and the way they interact with one another. Then, film yourself in front of a green screen and pretend that you are a part of the scene you just watched. In the editing room, the green screen can be removed and replaced with the scene from your favorite TV show or movie. So, if you’ve done it right, it should seem as if you are interacting directly with your favorite fictional characters.

Feel free to choose any movie or TV show you desire. Don’t be afraid to choose a cartoon, either. It’s exciting to see yourself step into an animated world and interact with cartoon characters.

Take Beautiful Photographs

Filmmakers are not the only ones who use green screens on a regular basis–photographers do, too. A green screen gives you the opportunity to take beautiful photographs in front of practically any backdrop. You can take a picture of yourself laying on the sandy beaches in Hawaii, enjoying the crisp mountain air in Colorado, or standing in front of national landmarks such as the Washington Monument or Statue of Liberty. Use your imagination to come up with the perfect backdrop for your photographs. Then, strike a pose in front of the green screen so you can remove the background in the editing room.

Teach Students

Green screens are used in classrooms across the country, too. Students that are studying filmmaking or editing are expected to use green screens on a regular basis, but they’re not the only ones. Many students outside of this field also learn how to use green screens inside the classroom. For example, students in a broadcasting class can stand in front of a green screen to record interviews, read the headline news, or even forecast the weather. This is an invaluable opportunity that can help students see what it would be like to work in the newsroom.

Teachers also encourage their students to use green screens when they are involved in mock court cases or completing history projects. Students love using green screens to make their presentations and projects more interesting and enjoyable to watch for everyone in the classroom.

As you can see, there are countless ways to use green screens. If you’re interested in purchasing chroma key fabric, contact Chicago Canvas & Supply. We are your leading source for green screens, textiles, theatre fabrics, tarps, drop cloths, and more. We are happy to send free material samples to our clients. To place a request for samples, contact us today by calling 1-866-389-2218 or emailing email@chicagocanvas.com.

Canvas vs. Plastic Drop Cloths

Painters need a number of supplies in order to get the job done, and a high quality drop cloth is just as important to a painter as a paintbrush or can of paint. Drop cloths are placed over flooring and furniture and are designed to protect them from paint splashes and splatters. Drop cloths come in a number of different materials, but canvas and plastic are two of the most popular choices. What type of drop cloth will offer your valuables the most protection? Here’s what you need to know about canvas vs. plastic drop cloths:

Price

Drop cloth prices can vary depending on the size of the item, the quality of its construction, and the retailer. But in general, plastic drop cloths are less expensive than canvas drop cloths. In fact, canvas drop clothes are the most expensive of all drop cloths. It is tempting to purchase the drop cloth that costs the least simply because of its low price, but remember that price is just one of many factors you should consider before choosing a drop cloth.

The Weight of the Material

Plastic is a lightweight material, which makes it easier to throw over furniture. Since plastic is not heavy and bulky, it is the perfect material to use as a cover for odd-shaped furniture pieces. However, the lightweight nature of plastic also has its disadvantages. Professional painters know that when it comes to drop cloths, heavier fabrics are better because they are thicker than lightweight materials. Thick materials are more absorbent, so they absorb more paint and prevent it from soaking through to the furniture or flooring.

It can be hard to throw heavy canvas over a piece of furniture on your own, but this shouldn’t be the reason you decide against canvas. Ask a friend for help putting the drop cloths in position so you don’t feel the need to settle for a material that is easier to handle. Canvas also comes in a variety of different weights, so consider choosing a slightly lighter canvas if you’re concerned about an unmanageable weight.

Durability

Another important factor to consider is the durability of the drop cloth material. Professional painters think of canvas as an indestructible material–and for good reason. Plastic can tear easily, so it is not a good choice if you intend on covering sharp objects that could puncture the material. There’s no need to worry about puncture marks or tears in your canvas drop cloth, however. If you purchase a canvas drop cloth, it will last for years as long as it is stored and cleaned properly.

Slippery Surface

Since drop cloths are placed on the floor, it’s also important to consider the slipperiness of the drop cloth material’s surface. Most canvas drop cloths are designed with a rubberized butyl backing, which will grab onto the furniture or flooring and hold the drop cloth in place. This backing ensures that a canvas drop cloth will not slip and slide under your feet as you walk across it.

Plastic drop cloths are not designed with this feature, so they may not stay in place. This is a major problem when painting outside since a strong gust of wind could send your plastic drop cloth flying across the lawn. Both inside and outside, the lack of grip on a plastic drop cloth creates a dangerous safety hazard. If you cover your flooring with a plastic drop cloth, it’s important to wear slip resistant shoes and watch your step carefully. You should also consider taping the plastic drop cloth down or using weights on the edges of the drop cloth to hold it firmly in place.

Absorbency

As previously mentioned, canvas is a thick material that can absorb a great deal of paint. Plastic, on the other hand, is impermeable, but not absorbent. If paint is spilled on a plastic drop cloth, the paint will run down the length of the drop cloth instead of absorbing into the material. It will not seep through the plastic and ruin your flooring or furniture, but running paint could lead to a huge mess if every inch of your furniture and flooring is not covered with a drop cloth.

Reusability

Professional painters tend to gravitate towards canvas drop cloths because they are reusable. A canvas drop cloth can be washed and used an infinite number of times. But, plastic drop cloths are typically single-use products. It’s not logical for a professional painter to choose a plastic drop cloth since they paint so often, but this is a practical choice for homeowners who only need a drop cloth for a single painting project.

Impact on the Environment

Eco-conscious consumers may want to consider the impact that each drop cloth material has on the environment. Canvas drop cloths are durable enough to use over and over again, so you won’t produce as much waste as you would if you were to purchase a new plastic drop cloth for every paint project. Canvas is also made out of cotton, so it is a recyclable material that is accepted at nearly every recycling facility. Cotton is biodegradable, so it will break down over time even if the drop cloth ends up in a landfill. However, the same cannot be said for plastic. If choosing an environmentally-friendly drop cloth is important to you, it’s best to go with canvas instead of plastic.

By now, you should have a general idea of the differences between canvas and plastic drop cloths. For more information, contact Chicago Canvas & Supply. We are your leading source for textiles, theatre fabrics, tarps, drop cloths, and more. To ask us questions or request free material samples, contact us today by calling 1-866-389-2218 or emailing email@chicagocanvas.com.

Canvas vs. Vinyl Tarps

Selecting the right tarp is not as easy as it may seem. There are many different options to choose from, which makes finding the right one much more challenging. It’s best to narrow down your options by choosing the tarp material first. Two of the most popular tarp materials are canvas and vinyl. Canvas is a natural material made out of 100% cotton, whereas vinyl is a synthetic plastic. Which is the right material for your needs? Take a look at these pros and cons of each material before making this decision:

The Look and Feel

The most obvious difference between canvas and vinyl tarps is the look and feel of each material. Canvas is known as a more rugged and natural material, so it has a coarse texture and matte appearance. On the other hand, the surface of vinyl is slightly glossy, so it has a bit of shine. Vinyl has a rubber-like texture, making it much smoother than canvas.

The Durability

Another important factor to consider when choosing a tarp is the material’s durability. Both canvas and tarp are heavy duty, durable materials that are designed to withstand wear and tear. However, the durability of canvas cannot compare to the unparalleled durability of vinyl. Vinyl tarps tend to last longer than other tarps because they are difficult to damage, so keep this in mind when making your decision.

Resistance to Environmental Elements

Tarps may be exposed to a number of environmental elements, including heat, water, and wind. For this reason, it is important to know how well the tarp will hold up when exposed to these elements.

All vinyl is waterproof whereas treated canvas tarps are water resistant. These two terms may seem similar, but they are actually very different. Waterproof means that the material is not affected or damaged in any way when exposed to water. This means there’s no need to panic if a vinyl tarp is accidentally exposed to water. However, the term water resistant means that the material can prevent the penetration of water to some degree. A little bit of rainwater or a splash of water may not damage a canvas tarp, however if water is left on top of the tarp, it will eventually seep through and cause damage. Therefore, it is best to choose a vinyl tarp if it will be exposed to water.

Vinyl is also more resistant to mold and mildew growth than canvas. Mold and mildew grow in warm, damp environments. It can be very difficult to get rid of mold and mildew once it starts to grow, so it’s best to prevent the growth altogether. But, prevention is hard when you are working with a canvas tarp. This is true regardless of whether or not the canvas tarp is treated to slow down or prevent the growth of mold and mildew. For this reason, a vinyl tarp is the best choice for people who plan on working in environments where mold or mildew growth is a real possibility.

Canvas is a breathable fabric, whereas vinyl is not. As a result, a canvas tarp will not trap as much heat from the sun as a vinyl tarp will. However, vinyl tarps are typically treated with a solution that protects the material from damaging UV rays. Heat should not negatively affect either one of these tarps, but if you want extra protection from UV rays, vinyl is the best choice. Vinyl can also withstand extremely cold temperatures, making it ideal for all environments.

Vinyl tarps are often used as truck and trailer covers because of their high resistance to wind. This material is flame retardant as well, so it is highly resistant to fire. These are two more examples of the many environmental elements that will not severely damage vinyl tarps.

The Price

Price is another factor to take into consideration when choosing between a vinyl and canvas tarp. Prices can vary depending on the size and quality of the tarp, but in general, vinyl is more expensive per foot than canvas. Vinyl is actually one of the most expensive tarp materials. However, it’s important to think about the price in relation to the lifespan of the material. Many people are willing to pay extra for vinyl because of its durability and resistance to environmental elements.

The Impact on the Environment

Living a green lifestyle is important to a lot of people, so many customers are eager to find out which material has a lesser impact on the environment. Canvas is much more environmentally friendly than vinyl. A lot of pollution is released into the atmosphere during the creation of vinyl, but the same cannot be said for the production of canvas.

Vinyl is recyclable, but many recycling facilities will not accept this material because they do not have the equipment to process it. Finding a facility that processes vinyl is challenging, so this material often ends up in landfills. However, canvas is a cotton material that is easy to recycle and widely accepted at recycling centers across the country. Plus, cotton is a natural fiber that is completely biodegradable, so it will break down naturally even if it is accidentally sent to a landfill instead of a recycling center. If you’re concerned about choosing an eco-friendly tarp material, canvas is the clear winner in this category.

Are you ready to choose the perfect canvas or vinyl tarp? Chicago Canvas & Supply is your leading source for textiles, theatre fabrics, tarps, dropcloths, and more. Tell us what you’re looking for so we can help you choose the right products for your needs. For more information, or to request free material samples, contact us today by calling 1-866-389-2218 or emailing email@chicagocanvas.com.

Drop Cloth Projects Beyond Painting

One of the products our customers love to depend on are our drop cloths. Whether plastic, rubber or canvas, drop cloths or drop sheets are generally used to protect surfaces during projects. Particularly, painting projects–which is why you might have heard the term “painters drop cloth”.

Most drop cloths are washable and reusable, so there’s a lot you can get out of them. The possibilities for drop cloth projects extend as far as your imagination can go. It’s time to dust off your old drop cloths and see what else you can be using it for!

Drop Cloth Uses for When You’re Not Painting

Since drop cloths are used to protect surfaces, you can use them all the time just for that.

  • Keep unused furniture looking new by protecting them from dust and sunlight.
  • Prevent scratches on your floor during a renovation, while moving, or during parties.
  • Keep your car seats and other furniture clean from house pets.
  • Use for temporary yard work when you don’t have a tarp around. For example, gardening, or raking leaves. (It’s important to note that if you need anything water-resistant, tear- or wind-resistant, do not use drop cloths. They won’t stand up to regular wear and tear like a tarp would).

These are just some of the uses we can think of. What else can you think of? Drop (no pun intended) them in the comments below.

Repurposing Drop Cloths

Because of the durable nature of the canvas drop cloths, they can be used beyond the standard uses. Drop cloths can be repurposed or originally fashioned for a lot of cool projects. For example:

  • Drop cloth curtains – Whether using colored or natural canvas, drop cloth curtains and window treatments are a fun and useful DIY, and a great way to save money on costly décor. Drop cloths are also good to use as divider curtains, whether temporary or long-term.

 

  • Linens – Drop cloths are meant to protect against spills, so why not? You can make table cloths, napkins, bibs, floor cloths and rugs, bed linens and more. Decorate with fabric painting, dye your fabric, and/or sew in some more details.

 

  • Arts and crafts – If you have some extra canvas drop cloths lying around, why not use them to fashion some reusable bags, or create a mural or decorative tapestry for your home? What about creating something fun, like a fort or teepee for kids’ rooms? We’ve even heard of people using a drop cloth as a movie screen projector!If you’re not the creative type, a big piece of canvas can at least keep the kids occupied for a while. This is a good option for old and used up drop cloths you don’t want to keep anymore.

 

  • Upholstery and furniture coverings: The neutral color makes for a clean look. Ideal for farmhouse/rustic and minimalist décor. We talked about this in another topi, so if you’d like to learn more about this, check out our post: Drop Cloth Upholstery 101.
CCS Customer Photo;  Natural Dropcloth  DIY Curtains
CCS Customer Photo; Natural Dropcloth DIY Curtains
Drop Cloth Projects
Chicago Canvas Customer photo: Colored Canvas Dropcloth Couch Cover
CCS Customer Photo; SD Collective: Canvas Drop Cloth DJ Tent
CCS Customer Photo; SD Collective: Canvas Drop Cloth DJ Tent
CCS Customer Photo; Rubber Dropcloth being used for a group activity.
CCS Customer Photo; Rubber Dropcloth being used for a group activity.

If you have a drop cloth project you’d like to share, we want to see it! Leave a comment below, email us or leave a comment on Facebook. 😊

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Church Stage Design Tips

The right stage design is key to presenting your story and connecting with your audience. They create emotion and cause excitement. That’s why a Church’s stage design is so important! No matter your stage size, we have some design tips that you can use today to improve your set design and reduce your production budget.

Stage Backdrops

There’s so many options when it comes to church stage backdrops. Some people think of church stage design as heavy metal and wooden panels with a lot of lighting—and yes, these do look great. But, they are also hard to move around, and not the easiest to install. Pairing some heavy stage materials with quality fabrics could be a great way to reduce your budget and improve your set-up schedule.

Church Stage Fabrics

Choosing the right fabrics is your next step. Below are the fabrics we recommend for churches.

Masking Fabrics – These fabrics are meant to create a dark background to allow focus on the actual set. They are meant to absorb light and hone in big spaces, and are commonly used for stage skirting.

Set Design Fabrics – If you’re really looking to get creative with your set, here are some fabrics you can use:

  • Small to medium budget
    • Canvas – Canvas is a great fabric for beginners. It’s easy to work with, so it’s great for backdrops.
  • Medium to large budget
    • Muslin – Cotton muslin fabric is lighter and thinner than canvas, and used by most professional set designers to paint and craft amazing stage drops, scene flats and cycloramas. Muslin is great for larger backdrops and cycs.

Lighting Fabrics – Lighting is the perfect way to amp your stage design “wow” factor without breaking the bank. When you pair the right fabrics with your lighting, you can get some amazing effects.

  • Scrim – This fabric is light, and has a translucent quality that creates different special effects when objects are placed in front or behind it.
  • Gauze – Another great cost effective fabric for dramatic lighting effect!

Note: Always use your fabrics safely. Use flame-retardant fabrics in public spaces and have the proper certification of compliance per your city fire department.

Have questions about your church stage design? Our team of knowledgeable fabric experts are at your service.

DIY Holiday Gifts Ideas Part 2

Ah, it’s that time of the year again! Jack Frost nipping at your nose, glimmering snowflakes floating atop a fluffy cast of snow, twinkly lights as far as the eye can see!

We’ve been busy enjoying the holidays lately, and it recently reminded us of something we needed to do—bring back another installment of Holiday Gift ideas! If you’re like us, you know that thoughtful gifts are best ones. If you want to wow with diy holiday gifts under the tree, we have some fun (and affordable!) ideas for you.

If you missed part 1 of this series, you can check it out here –> Handmade Holiday Gift Ideas: Part I

DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater

If you’re sick of cozying up next to the tree in your ugly Christmas sweater alone, why not gift someone the chance to join you? These are fun to give as a gag gift, or a fast and easy solution for your Ugly Christmas Sweater Party dress code!

All you need to do is start with a clean sweatshirt or sweater in whatever style or color you prefer (use one you have already, or buy one from Amazon or Walmart). Then, just go crazy with your fabrics and decoration.

If you want to get creative with your fabrics, here are a few we recommend:
Metallic foil – Make a shiny Rudolf nose or fashion some Christmas lights or shiny present bow.
Flannel – A staple cold-weather fabric! Can’t go wrong with this one.
Terrycloth – A fun way to add texture to your sweater. Cute for making animals like polar bears, penguins and reindeer.

Need some inspiration for your ugly design? Here are a few of our faves: 15 Do It Yourself Ugly Christmas Sweaters

DIY Flannel Scarf

Flannel is such a cozy fabric, and it’s perfect for this time of the year. Who doesn’t need another scarf to cozy up to this Winter? And when you add that extra dash of love by actually making it yourself, whoever is lucky enough to receive it will surely appreciate it so much more.

There are a lot of tutorials out there on how to make a flannel scarf, some more embellished than others. We’d like to share a tutorial so simple, even a newbie could master it!

https://www.ehow.com/ehow-crafts/blog/make-a-handmade-plaid-flannel-and-fringe-scarf/?utm_source=pinterest.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=blog&utm_campaign=fanpage&crlt.pid=camp.PKng22CB71DW&crlt.pid=camp.AVnCoVx4WE1d&crlt.pid=camp.Tpol5AbHEwTj

Image Source: Ehow.com

Here are the materials you’ll need to grab:

• 2 yards flannel fabric
• Sewing Machine
• Measuring tape
• Seam ripper
• Scissors
• Pins

For the full tutorial from eHow, click here.

Need Fabric Samples?

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DIY Fleece Blanket

Blankets are always a great gift. You can always find use for one. And when it’s cold outside, it’s always nice to pull out a gift that was made just for you. You can really get personal with the design on a blanket. And using fleece to make it? You can’t go wrong with the ultimate cozy fabric!

Image Source: Agirlandagluegun.com

Here’s a wonderful tutorial from agirlandagluegun.com that shows you how to make a fleece blanket in 4 ways:
Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Making Fleece Blankets

Here are some of the materials you may need:
• 1 ½ yards of fleece fabric
• Sharp scissors
• Crochet hook
• Fabric pins
• Yarn

Bonus: DIY Dog Toys

Four-legged friends should get presents, too! We understand that most don’t want to break the bank when it comes to spoiling their pups. But you can always use fabric remnants to craft something special that your dog will surely love. And any dog owner can vouch for this fact—it doesn’t take much to make a dog happy. They’ll play with anything!

Here are some cute tutorials we recommend for making dog toys from fabric scraps:

http://www.lovepetsdiy.com/diy-dog-toys-from-fabric-scraps/
http://www.sheknows.com/pets-and-animals/articles/1052991/diy-dog-toy-video
http://www.diynetwork.com/made-and-remade/make-it/fleece-tug-and-fetch-dog-toy


We hope you enjoyed these handmade holiday gift ideas! They’ll be sure to spread some holiday cheer. If you happen to try any, tell us about it in the comments below! Be sure to share your pictures 😊

~ Happy Holidays from the Chicago Canvas & Supply Team ~

DIY – How to Prepare a Canvas

Whether you’re trying out a new hobby or are looking to delve into professional artistry, you should know how to prepare a canvas. See all the tips you’ll need below.

Canvas Prep

Is it important to prime a canvas before painting acrylics?

Even if you buy primed canvas vs. unprimed canvas, most artists still like to prime their surface with gesso before applying any type of paint.

What is gesso?

Pronounced as “jess-o”, this primer is painted over canvas before actual paint is applied.

Why do you put gesso on a canvas?

The most common type of gesso looks just like white paint (but can also come in clear, black and other colors); it has a binding agent in it that protects the canvas and makes paint application smoother. Without it, your initial paint layer will bleed into the weave of the canvas, meaning you’ll use up a lot of paint making layer over layer until your lines are clean and colors are vibrant. Canvas can also deteriorate over time when certain mediums, like oil paints, are applied; gesso helps prevent that from happening.

How do you apply gesso to a canvas?

There are different kinds of gesso that are best suited for various types of acrylic and oil paints. No matter what type of gesso you use, you will apply it evenly with a large brush or sponge, let it dry, and then repeat 2-3 times. In case your gesso doesn’t dry smooth (and that’s the intended texture you’re going for), carefully sand it down to the desired level bit by bit, while being careful not to over-sand and damage the canvas.

How to Stretch Canvas

For professional painters or artists who paint often, it’s more affordable to buy materials in bulk and stretch it to size by hand, instead of purchasing pre-stretched canvases. Note that it’s difficult to stretch primed canvas, so it’s recommended to use unprimed canvas then coat with gesso before using.

To stretch your own artist canvas, you’ll need:

  • A large, clean surface to cut your canvas to rough size
  • Unprimed canvas
  • 4 stretcher bars (2 pairs of equal length; You can make your own stretchers  or buy them from a craft store)
  • Fabric scissors to cut canvas to size
  • Staple gun with stapes
  • Canvas pliers
  • Tape measure
  • T-square

To see each step, check out the excellent video tutorial by John Peters on the right-hand side of the page. →

Have any expert tips to add? Leave your comments below! Let’s learn and grow our skills together.

Get Canvas in Multiple Colors and Sizes

Curtain Care 101

When you invest money in your curtains, you certainly want to maintain their quality for as long as possible. Whether you just purchased a divider curtain for your home, warehouse, office or business or are looking for ways to keep your stage curtains  in pristine condition, use this curtain care guide to find out how to make them last.

Professional Grade Curtains


Dry Cleaning Curtains

Dry cleaning is the best option for professional non-synthetic stage curtains or any other treated curtains. Let your dry cleaner know if your fabric is flame retardant and ensure they’re using a solution that won’t affect it, as this could pose a future fire hazard.

Common flame retardant fabric used in theatre are: muslin, commando cloth, chroma key, marvel velour, sound absorbing fabric, and shark tooth scrim.

A Note on Flame Resistance

Flame retardant curtains are necessary for public spaces. A lot of factors, including curtain care, venue humidity and more, could affect flame resistance over time. To ensure your curtain maintains its flame retardancy over time, always make sure to:

  1. Test the fabric before and after dry cleaning.
  2. Retreat with flame retardant sealant solution as needed.

Dusting Curtains

Napped velour curtains will gather dust in the nap; you can lightly vacuum or beat like a rug before dry cleaning. Smooth fabric curtains will have dust on the surface, so you can brush and shake the dust/dirt off.

How to Hand Wash Curtains

If you are using synthetic fabrics (like encore velour), you can hand wash your curtains in a tub using mild detergent only (no fabric softener). Tumble dry on low, then hang immediately; never hang while wet. If you find that your fabric is simply too big to wash on your own, you may just want to opt for professional cleaning for convenience.

A Note on Synthetic Fabrics

The great news about synthetic fabrics is that, although they can get dirty, they’re easy to clean! Here’s what to do in case you encounter a common care issue with your synthetic fabric curtain:

  1. Paint marks and other stains can be spot cleaned with warm water (no bleach or harsh cleaners or detergents). Be sure to always use a soft bristled brush and test a small area with your cleaning solution first.
  2. Synthetic fabric curtains are known to attract dust. A lot of theaters choose to sweep or vacuum to get the dust off, or use a compressor hose to blow the dust and other debris off.

How to Fold Curtains for Storage

Curtains should always be stored in a cool, dry place both before and after using. You want to avoid moisture and dust to maintain the quality and life of your curtains.

Before taking theater curtains down, sweep the stage to ensure you won’t get any unwanted debris on the fabric. Use the whole stage to straighten out the curtain and fold it neatly, face to face. Store in a canvas bag (never plastic) so the fabric can breathe and prevent mildew.

Industrial and DIY Curtain Care


Plastic and Vinyl Curtains

Plastic and vinyl  curtains are both easy to clean. To avoid mold and mildew, simply wipe them down as needed. Use a non-abrasive cloth and a mild detergent/cleaner. Cleaners with bleach are recommended for clear PVC curtains being used in industrial settings.

Canvas and Drop Cloth Curtains

Woven fabrics like canvas attract dust, hair and even mold (ick!). We suggest removing all your curtain hardware seasonally to clean. In between then, use a dust brush while they’re hanging. You could also spray your curtains with some water-resistant spray to help control mildew.

Final Tips

If you’re ever in doubt of how to care for your curtain, contact a professional. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

Need more tips? Check out our Complete Guide to Fabric Care, or drop your questions in the comments below.