Something You Should Know About Sewing on Canvas

Originally published on February 1st, 2016, at
Edited and republished at on March 6th, 2017.
Added to on October 30th, 2017.

This is just a quick tip for absolute beginners, and one that I wish someone had shared with me:

Thicker thread isn’t necessarily the solution to a knot that pulls through fabric.

I recently discovered this fact when I decided to replace a button that had fallen off of a messenger-style bag I’ve had for several years. My first attempt to sew on a new button failed because using a needle heavy enough to work with the canvas meant that a standard knot in standard thread pulled through, too.

My first thought was to get thicker thread, and when I asked about that particular solution at a local craft store, the notion met with both mild approval and enthusiastic denial of any sewing knowledge.

It did not work. The thread1, itself, wouldn’t pull through the canvas.

Maybe it would have worked if I’d gotten a thread that was thicker than what I started with, yet thinner than what I tried the second time. But, honestly, spending money on thread based on guesses about thickness lost its appeal, for me, on the first go-round.

You know what did work, though? Multiple threadings of that same, skinny, normal thread that I started out with.

I cut five roughly-equal lengths of thread, put them all through the needle, knotted that baby up, then sewed that button on!

Et voila!

Bing bag with sewn-on button
My Bing bag with its brand new button!

It may not be precisely centered on the bag, and it may not match the old button, but – by the gods! – it stayed on when I gave it several good tugs, and it works just fine with the loop fastener.

This bag will definitely be accompanying me on my next walk to the Anaheim Central Library or Pop Comics. Providing, of course, that I can stop patting myself on the back long enough to strap it on.


1. Technically, twine. This chick don’t mess around.