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Waxed Canvas Apron for Sam

A few months ago, Sam mentioned that he wanted an apron to wear while painting his models. He spends hours sitting at his desk in our bedroom painting his minis, and his dedication to his hobby is very similar to my obsession with sewing. I love that he has something he is so passionate about and that we can share our love for our hobbies and encourage each other. This idea of a waxed canvas apron stuck with me and I decided to whip one up as a Christmas gift for Sam!

Waxed Canvas Apron
Waxed Canvas Apron

PS: Sam is the producer behind the Love to Sew Podcast. He edits the show and creates the amazing show notes for us all to reference! Needless to say, this apron is well-deserved.

Waxed Canvas Blackbird Fabrics

I have been eyeing the waxed canvas from Blackbird Fabrics and this project was a perfect excuse to try it. A little bird told me that more colours will be available on Jan 25th – yay!

Waxed canvas is just that – canvas with a coating of wax on it! It is waxy (duh) to the touch and folds and crinkles as you would expect. The end result is a fabric that is durable and has a wonderfully worn-in and textured look to it.

I had never worked with this textile before and I was pleasantly surprised. It is really easy to cut due to its rigidity, it is fun to press and to sew, and the fabric softens so much over time. Even just in the process of making the apron, the crinkly lines started to soften and the wax seemed to get worked in to the fibers. For an apron, this fabric is amazing. You can also use it for bags and it even makes a cool, water-resistant jacket!

Hot tip: use a press cloth when pressing waxed canvas. It will leave some residue on your iron. You can also forgo the press cloth and clean your iron after you finish your project. For more tips on working with Waxed Canvas, check out this article from Colette.

Waxed Canvas Apron

Now, about this apron! I kinda made this up as I went along. Using Sam’s Measurements I figured out how wide and tall to make the body of the apron. I then decided on a shape for the top portion. I settled to do slightly curved angles down from the narrower top of the apron to the side ties. I like this scooped look (as is evident from my York Pinafore design). The curved parts are finished using blue bias binding.

Waxed Canvas Apron

The top, sides, and hem of the apron are straight lines which I finished using mitered corners and a 1″ hem all around. The ties were tucked into the folded edge and then flipped back out and secured. The neck of the apron has a double D-ring for adjusting and the back is secured using ties. The ties are made from cotton webbing, which you can find at most fabric stores.

Waxed Canvas Apron
Waxed Canvas Apron

That is all the basic construction, but you are probably wondering – what is that weird flap on the front? I’m glad you asked! This was my favourite part of the project because I love a unique design challenge.

A big part of Sam’s modeling work involves actually building the models before he paints them. They are made up of impossibly small pieces that arrive on spreues and he assembled them using teeny-tiny drills, glue, and modeling putty for filling in gaps. He had mentioned that his dream apron would include some kind of system for catching small pieces because it is easy to drop them and they are really hard to find once they hit the ground. Challenge acepted!

I had several ideas for this, including velcro or grommets on the apron that attached to the underside of his desk, but that seemed cumbersome. And imagine if he stood up quickly and jostled his whole painting station! Once I began working with the waxed canvas I realized that it holds its shape SO well. Maybe I could just create a fabric ‘bowl’ that he can use when needed, but is otherwise not in the way.

I created this bowl by making a simple rectangle of fabric. It has a 1″ channel with mitered corners, and I ran cording along the sides and bottom. When I attached the panel to the apron, I also secured the ends of the cord on the top corners. I then added little spring cord locks to help cinch up the fabric into a bowl shape.

Waxed Canvas Apron
Waxed Canvas Apron
Waxed Canvas Apron
Waxed Canvas Apron

When Sam is seated at his station, the bowl sits under the lip of the desk and catches anything that falls. When he is not using the fabric bowl, he can flatten it down and it acts as extra protection in his lap in case he spills glue or paint. I could tell you about the Hudson pants that he spilled rubber cement on, but that’s another story…

Waxed Canvas Apron
Waxed Canvas Apron

Sam said he didn’t need any pockets on his apron, but that felt wrong. What is an apron without a pocket!? I decided to add a chest pocket with spots for pens and a place for his phone. The leather patch and rivets were just for fun. I think these details really add something to the overall feel of this maker apron.

Waxed Canvas Apron
Waxed Canvas Apron

I had so much fun making this project and really want to work with waxed canvas again! I’m dreaming of a jacket or a backpack. Let me know if you have any questions about this project. Happy sewing (or painting)!

About the author


Helen Wilkinson is the designer and founder of Helen's Closet Patterns. She also co-hosts the Love to Sew Podcast! Helen is obsessed with all things sewing and strives to share her passion and knowledge with the sewing community.

22 Comments on “Waxed Canvas Apron for Sam”

  1. That looks great! The little pocket-tray is very inventive. I love when people hand-paint figures. You didn’t find that the wax did anything to the machine needles like clogging or leaving stickiness?

      1. You don’t need anything fancy! A heavyweight needle for a heavyweight fabric, and you will likely only be able to use it to sew one project, or maybe have to change it halfway through.

  2. My boyfriend also models and paints minis, we often comment on the similarities to sewing. Our two hobbies involve creativity, patience and more ideas than time to execute them!

  3. Aw, My husband is into wargaming too and I also made him an apron a year ago. I showed him this post and he laughed “Sam looks just like me”. He even has the same wooden rack for his paints and could easily identify the army Sam is working on. Only difference is that when my husband said that he didn’t need any pocket apron, I thought “less work” and didn’t add any 🙂

  4. So creative and totally cool! That pocket idea would come in handy for many crafters. I’m looking forward to Sam’s next appearance on the podcast to brag about “his” new custom-made apron!

  5. Ah that pocket is clever! And I’m pretty excited about that waxed canvas tip…now that’s good gossip. 🙂

  6. Some waxed cotton seems to have more wax in it and I have found that the heavier stuff does leave ‘gunge’ around the needle and bobbin area. It is easily cleaned up with white spirit (UK) on a cotton bud. Not sure what white spirit is called in Canada. Waxed cotton jackets are popular in the UK for some outdoor activities but the fabric tears when caught on barbed wire fences! When mending, the wax can be rubbed over the stitching to re-waterproof and disguise the mend. I’ve found that 100% cotton thread with a long stitch works best.

  7. That apron is amazing! I started playing D&D with my corworkers recently and one has a giant case of miniatures he painted. I’m starting to understand how much time and effort has gone into his collection!

  8. Nice! My husband also paints (he’s @brushesandbiertjes on insta if Sam is looking for more people to follow, hehe). The apron is super cute and that bowl is genius. The mess from the tiny curls of plastic is second only to stray thread ends! Hah!

  9. This is awesome! I paint Warhammer 40k AND am now learning to sew. Love the podcast – keep up the great work. Do you have a pattern for this or did you just design it on the fly?

    1. That’s awesome! Helen designed this apron herself. The shapes are pretty basic if you want to give it a shot!

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