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What is Canvas?

Canvas is a plain weave fabric formed from cotton, linen, jute, cotton, and hemp. As the word has come to be used as a generic term for heavy, tightly-woven fabric, it can also be made from polyester. 

Canvas is heavy and dense and has applications in making tents, sails, tarpaulins, awnings, upholstery, umbrellas, shoe uppers, embossed wall coverings that form a substratum for paint or gilding, and totes.

Additionally, it serves as the preferred surface for oil paintings and is the name for the mesh fabric on which embroidery and needlepoint are done. It also is a type of paper used with inkjet printers.

Canvas Fabric. Canvas is used in applications in which a thick, tough, durable fabric is required.

Duck, from the Dutch word “doek, which originally referred to a particular linen type used for garments for sailors — for instance, their white trousers — is now used for a selection of canvas, including army duck, awning duck, belting duck, boat duck, flat duck, hose duck, linen duck, number duck, ounce duck, sail duck, shoe duck, tent duck, and others.

Canvas may be obtained untreated or with either flame-retardant treatment, water-resistant treatment, or both.

Besides the name of the special type of fabric, if there is one, and the treatment, canvas is identified by its weight in ounces per square yard and by two grading systems based on the weight of a piece of duck 36 by 22 inches (about 92 by 56 cm). The first system, for fabric weighing less than 19 ounces (about 54 decagrams) per square yard (91.4 square cm), runs from 1 to 12, but the highest three odd numbers are not used anymore, so the numbered duck grades are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, and 12, growing progressively lighter in weight.

The sizing for fabric weighing 19 or more ounces per square yard is called naught duck and runs 1/0 to 6/0, with the largest number representing 24 ounces (about 68 decagrams) for the measure of duck.

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