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

GG Knows – A Dictionary of Textile Terms

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

Ready to learn something new? Let’s get started!
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Ultimate List of Fabric Scrap Projects

Anyone that works with fabric knows there are always a LOT of scraps. Why throw them away? Instead, save them, store them and take them out on a rainy day for some fun projects. This ultimate list of fabric scrap projects has a bunch of ideas to get your imagination going. Have something to add to the list? Leave it in the comments below! Be sure to bookmark this page for later and check back for updates.

Note: If you’d like to learn how to turn scraps to yardage before you start your fabric scrap project, see The Sewing Loft Blog for a complete tutorial.

60 Fabric Scrap Ideas


  1. Bows
  2. Wreath
  3. Fabric banner
  4. Picture frame
  5. Christmas ornaments


  1. Toys
  2. Bows
  3. Collar
  4. Pillows
  5. Blankets


  1. Pillows
  2. Coaster
  3. Lanyard
  4. Curtains
  5. Floor rug
  6. Drink sleeve
  7. Table runner
  8. Quilt/Blanket
  9. Coffee/tea cozy
  10. Seat/floor cushions
  11. Embellish towels or blankets


  1. Bib
  2. Fabric baby mobile
  3. Toys (blocks, animals, etc.)


  1. Scarf
  2. Brooch
  3. Hair bow
  4. Headband
  5. Fabric Jewelry
  6. Embellish clothes


  1. Ribbons
  2. Flowers
  3. Magnets
  4. Bean bags
  5. Cake flags
  7. Patch collage
  8. DIY bobby pins
  9. Fabric feathers
  10. Animal figurines
  11. Fortune cookies


  1. Belt
  2. Baskets
  3. Hangers
  4. Pouches
  5. Keychain
  6. Cord wrap
  7. Bags/Totes
  8. Pencil case
  9. Pot holder
  10. Book cover
  11. Glasses case
  12. Scissor cover
  13. Heating pad
  14. Earbud holder
  15. Pincushion
  16. iPad/Kindle case
  17. Sew-in interfacing
  18. Water bottle carrier
  19. Duster/Swiffer cover
Summer DIY Party Banner Via
Summer DIY Party Banner Via
Dog Toy via
Dog Toy via

Learn How to Upholster with Dropcloth

Dog Toy via
Dog Toy via
Fabric Flowers via
Fabric Flowers via
DIY Cord Keeper via

Need More Scraps?

Browse Our Remnant Sale

Your Complete Guide to Fabric Care

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

Fabric Care Tips

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

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

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

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

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

Have a fabric question? We can help.

Fabric Care FAQs

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

What’s the right way to store fabric?

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

Which fabrics shrink?

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

Can I wash this?

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

Don't order your fabric without reading this.

What’s the best way to clean tarps?

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

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

Can I iron my fabric?

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

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

Which cleaners can I use?

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

Will the color bleed/fade?

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

Have a unique project?

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

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

What Is The Difference Between Flame Retardant And Inherently Flame Retardant Theatre Fabric?

Fabrics are an important element in theatre and arts. However, determining the proper type of fabric can sometimes be challenging, especially when it comes to differentiating between Flame Retardant and Inherently Flame Retardant.  While they only differ by a few letters, there is a definite difference between the two.

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Comparing Fabrics for Theater Curtains

Guide to Selecting the Ideal Fabric Type for your Theater Curtains

Let me set the stage for you. Big production coming up and your job is to buy the fabric to make theater curtains. You are clicking from site to site, trying to figure out which fabric is going to be best-suited.  So many choices! There is also a budget to stay within. Isn’t it also always the case that these were needed yesterday?  Ya’ know… just to keep it interesting.  Let us save you some time with a simple chart comparing theater fabrics so the next time you are in need of fabrics for your stage curtains, you will know exactly what to order.

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Chicago Canvas Theater Fabrics at Stage Expo

Chicago Canvas had the pleasure of exhibiting at USITT’s Stage Expo March 19-21.  From costume displays to gorgeous fabrics, the Stage Expo always provides a dynamic hands-on environment to learn about the latest happening in the entertainment industry, including audio, lighting, set designs, and media. We even saw art being created on canvas with the artist standing up and using paint brushes with long 3′ handles on. Cool!
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Chicago TV Shows Pop in for Cut Yardage Orders

Columnist Michael Sneed recently made mention of 3 TV Series currently being filmed right here in Chicago: “Chicago Fire,” “Chicago P.D.,”  and “Empire.”  Each of the sets for these TV shows uses fabric from Chicago Canvas & Supply. We have provided these shows with 9′ – 20′ Natural Color Muslin (flame retardant and non-flame retardant), Flame Retardant Bleached White Muslin, White Sharkstooth Scrim, and Flame Retardant Grey Muslin.
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