What the heck is hair canvas?


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When I saw this pattern I just had to have it.  ‘Why?’ you ask.  Well, if you have seen the movie Coco, staring Shirley McLain, then you may recognize this style of coat.  It is called a spectator coat.  This is my style.  I started reviewing the pattern so that I would have an idea about what I was getting myself into.

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The first thing that I see after I can get beyond the fabulous style is the amount of yardage.  Boy, that is going to be a lot for me.  I will have to get an extra 3/4 of a yard.  Then I saw an informational insert that was titled, ‘Professional Tips for Sewing Success’.  Being one for success I started to read it.

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I liked the way that the information insert started off: ‘By the early 1920s, women were well on their way to victory in asserting their freedom from Victorian constraints, and it was won primarily by the wage-earning, fun-loving young American mademoiselle.’  Although I am no longer young (don’t ask) that is speaking my language.  I read on.  It was at that time that I came across the term ‘hair canvas’.  What the heck is hair canvas.  I was to find out.

Hair canvas is an interfacing that can be sewn in and is available in a fusible form.  Upon checking the internet, I found that it can be purchased from Joann’s Fabrics.  It is usually a blend of wool and goat hair that helps with it clinging to garment fabric.  Upon research I have learned that this interfacing is the gold standard in tailoring because it gives soft shaping.  This can also be made from rayon or cotton to reduce the price.  There is no stiffness involved with hair canvas as interfacing.

If you pre-shrink your garment fabric then you must pre-shrink your hair canvas.  Don’t worry this is not a hard task.  All that you need is water in a spray bottle (or some way to moisten the hair canvas – not soak it) and an iron.  Moisten the hair canvas letting it sit for a bit to soak in and then iron until dry.  Even I can do that.  It is recommended that you do not use a back and forth motion while doing this for it will stretch the canvas but use a press then lift and move motion.  See not difficult yet.

The next step is to proceed and use the hair canvas as any interfacing – fusible or sewn in.  Just be sure to trim it in seam allowances to reduce bulk.

In this pattern the hair canvas is used as ‘sleeve heads’.  What?  Oh my, another new term.  I read on.  I read on.  Well, to simplify, it is kinda sorta like a shoulder pad but not really.  A drawing is included.

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The sleeve head goes away from the body towards the sleeve itself.  Now I am clear.  I can recall coats that I have owned in the past that had something that was a bit stiff in the shoulder seam.  Now I realize that it was hair canvas used as a sleeve head.  Learning about these was not so bad.  As a matter of fact I know that it is going to broaden my sewing skills – a lot.  Never be afraid about learning something new.


8 responses »

  1. This was really interesting for me. At first I thought you were going to talk about horse hair shirts that 15C monks wore! I find domestic history fascinating any more like this would be lovely.

  2. Loved the post! It’s been ages since I heard the term. I think I remember it as ‘hair cloth’, but definitely the same stuff. Probably still have some in my studio here! 🙂 The last thing I used it for was head pieces for costuming….

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! The coffee’s always on!

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