How To – Waxed Cotton

In my DIY leather and waxed canvas apron post, I promised to come back and dedicate a whole post to waxing cotton and canvas.  Consider the promise fulfilled!

Waxed canvas is big in the motorcycle and accessory scene. Pre-waxed canvas items can be pretty pricey. However….its pretty easy to DIY. You can take any cotton item, and with simple waxing make it water resistant. It also gives a pretty badass patina to dark colored clothing. So grab your denim jackets, canvas bags, heck even jeans, and wax on wax off.

In a double boiler, or a metal bowl over a pot of simmering water, mix equal parts beeswax and paraffin wax. I sourced my beeswax from a local bee shop (really! I love living in the city) and the paraffin is from the craft store.

photo 4(4) photo 5(4)

The hardest part is cutting up the wax. I couldn’t manage it at all. So I called for my muscles and El Granto came to the rescue. He placed a knife in a pot of boiling water for a few minutes and set to chopping. The knife went through like a hot knife through butter wax.

I like to use a popsicle stick or extra wooden takeout chopstick to occasionally stir the wax until it is completely melted.

Once your wax is melted, lay your cotton item on some old towels on a surface that won’t mind a bit of heat (I used our concrete countertops). Using a dollar store or other inexpensive paint brush, dip it in the hot wax, then quickly brush a thin layer onto your canvas.

Apply Hot Wax to Cotton

Apply Hot Wax to Cotton

You don’t want a ton, just a light layer. It will start to harden almost instantly and dry white. Don’t worry, that is normal. You don’t need complete coverage. If there are some bare spots, that’s okay. It’s better to have less wax than more wax. It’s a whole heck of a lot easier to put more on than take some off.

Waxed Canvas Apron prior to absorption

After you have completely covered your item, get out the hair dryer. I read other tutorials suggesting using your clothes dryer instead of a hair dryer. I tried it, and my energy star dryer never got close to being hot enough. Skip the clothes dryer, and break out the hair dryer.

Holding the hair dryer a few inches from the waxed fabric, turn it on high and wave it over the fabric. In a few seconds, you will see the wax melt, and seep into the fabric. Going from white, back to the color of your fabric.

Apply hest to melt Wax into Cotton
Dark Blue: Wax has been heated and soaked into the fabric. White: Wax has not yet been heated, or absorbed into the fabric.

If you have applied too much wax it will not all soak in, and will puddle on the fabric. If this happens, use a popsicle stick to scrape off any excess wax. Continue heating up your wax until the whole item has absorbed all the wax. Let cool and dry.

If you want a more distressed look, after the waxed cotton has dried, scrunch it up with your hands.

Waxed Canvas Apron
Waxed Canvas Apron


[See our post on how to make a DIY Waxed Canvas and Leather Apron here.]


Navy Blue Cotton Canvas – Designer Fabrics
Bees Wax – The Bee Shop
Paraffin Wax – Michaels

Double Boiler
Cheap Paint Brush
Blow Dryer
Scrap Towels

Difficulty Level (on a scale of 1-5):

two out of five


Total Time: 1 hour

Total Cost: $10



El Granto’s New Baby

In the last 5 years our lives have gone through a lot of change. We got engaged, married, bought a house, got a dog etc. We became grown ups (well as much as we ever could). In the midst of saving for and paying for all these large milestones, one of El Granto’s passions got put on the backburner.

El Granto loves motorcycles. Especially the cafe racer variety. He purchased his first motorcycle about 7 years ago. A 1972 Honda CB360 lovingly named Penelope. She was a good little bike, but as she was 40 years old she needed some help. He had her running well for a while but when the above mentioned real life things came up, poor Penelope started to show her age. She ended up needing more work than was viable, and last spring El Granto sadly put her up for sale.

Ever since that day, the poor guy has had a sadness in his eyes when he watches a cafe racer (or any bike really) drive by on a sunny summer day. He looks wistfully at our friends motorcycles stored in our garage. He had new motorcycles set as his desktop wallpaper and I often caught him pricing out new bikes and doing quiet math sorting figures and determining how much he would have to save to make a new bike a reality.

After 3+ years of saving his pennies, El Granto has finally made his dream a reality. This past Saturday a truck and trailer pulled up in our neighbourhood and a nice man unloaded a shiny new 2014 Triumph Thruxton 900 and started it up. The odometer stated 000000km’s and the man handed El Granto a folio and a set of keys and said “She’s all yours.”

The grin on his face was priceless. More excited than a kid on Christmas, El Granto had gotten his dream new toy (I may have even seen a tear). He walked around it looking at all its shiny chrome and listening to the purr of the engine. He donned his helmet and gloves and took her around the block coming back to the garage with his horn blaring getting our neighbours to come out and see the new toy!

As it’s still (woefully) winter here in Toronto, he had to unfortunately pack her away in the garage and wait for spring.

I have caught him out there in the cold garage with a light on happily sitting on his new bike. Playing with the steering lock, or removing the cowl. He can’t wait for sunshine and dry pavement, and I can’t wait to see his smile as he revs her up and takes her for a spin.