Monday, September 23, 2013

Twill, Canvas, Cotton Duck. . . what's the difference?

Twill, Canvas, Cotton Duck???
When we make anything in our shop with a ribbon trim, I almost always recommend that the base fabric is Canvas. Because I am so specific about the base fabric I will work with, I always provide it and include it in the overall cost of the product. The ribbon designs just look better when sewn onto a fabric that is woven a certain direction.
Because I am so particular, I offer the base fabric and is always basic bright white. Occasionally I get a client that says they want to supply their own in a particular color and I say, "Sure. Is it Twill, Canvas or Cotton Duck?" And the response leads me to believe that I am reading something from someone who looks like this:
And then I never hear from them again. So here's the Basics, peeps. Premier Prints prints their fabric pattern on each of these types of fabrics. I will be showing you several similar designs so you can know to look at the descriptions of each fabric in the future to get the best result for the look you are trying to achieve.
Canvas is a firm, medium to heavy weight woven cotton. It is the heaviest of the cottons we are talking about today, and also the coarsest to the touch. Canvas used for home décor is more loosely woven than duck or twill. Canvas is classified in a number system based on its weight. 10 oz canvas, 9 oz canvas, etc.
Here is what the canvas weave looks like up close:
Description: 100% 7 ounce Cotton Slub, Medium Weight Canvas
Description: Description: 100% 7 ounce Cotton Slub, Medium Weight Canvas
The above prints are medium weights and printed on 7 oz cotton canvas. They will lie more stiffly and give a room a more formal feel. This is different form Duck or Twill which will not drape stiffly.
We will see now one of the things that makes Premier Prints a great option for a fabric supplier. You can get the same pattern on a variety of fabric types and pick the one that is appropriate to the feel you are trying to create.
Duck:Cotton Duck is a durable, closely woven  ribbed cotton fabric. It is similar to canvas, but lighter in weight and not as stiff. Duck is smoother to the touch than canvas. It does not feel textured.
Duck even looks softer just in this image than canvas.
Gotcha in True Turquoise and White
This fabric option from Premier Prints is also a 7 oz cotton, but it is more tightly woven and does not have the weighty weave that creates the slubby texture of the 7 oz canvas option.
The basic 7 oz cotton is less expensive, it drapes more easily and lends a softer more casual feel to a room.
Twill is the lightest, softest and most pliable of all three cottons we have been talking about. The weave is typically done with one thread over one thread, as opposed to the above two options which are either two or over one or two over two. This is how it is so pliable and easy to work with.

For Twill, you will want to look specifically for the word "Twill" or "Cotton Twill" in the description. For example, here at Carousel Fabrics the description for this item says, "100% Cotton Twill."
Carousel Fabrics at create items specifically for use in baby nurseries. They only work with cotton twill fabrics as they are the softest option, easiest to clean and most durable for things like crib sheets or boppy covers where a little bit of give is a god thing.
Cotton twill drapes very nicely. Not only does it feel soft, but it looks soft and lends a relaxing tone and environment to a room.
For formal, go canvas. For Casual, go Duck. For relaxed and calming, go twill.
Melissa Recommends these accents:
Heavier canvas weights (formal):
Medium Weight Duck (Casual)
Lighter Weight Twill (Relaxed)


  1. Thank you. This really helped me

  2. Thank you for a simple explanation and great photos.

  3. Great post! This was a quick, clear refresher course in fabric construction for me.

  4. Melissa,
    great article, but can i add to your descriptions? The difference in the two 7 oz fabrics you speak about by Premiere are in fact the same construction and yarn size. Slub class fabrics are also referred to as AB grade fabrics because they have that real coarse natural canvas feel. It is in fact cheaper than A grade 7 oz cotton duck which has more even yarns than the slub/AB grade canvas. Usually in the yarn drawing process there is an extra step that the yarn goes through (for A grade) to draw out the yarns into longer more uniform fibers. When woven this leads the A grade fabric to be more even and smooth to the touch. The slub/AB grade fabric the yarns sometimes have uneven thickness (also called reediness pronounced ree-dee-ness) which gives it the rough look and feel and thus doesn't drape as well. The both 7 oz fabrics are a half basket weave which means there are 2 warp yarns up for every 1 fill yarn that travels under them.

    Hope this helps