How to Distress Canvas Fabric

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New fabric is nice and clean, but it might not always be the aesthetic that you are looking for. Sometimes a distressed fabric, especially a durable fabric like canvas, can make a powerful statement that can be used in many applications from furniture upholstery to stretching onto a frame for painting. Using tools and materials you probably already have at home, you can distress canvas for you next project. The following are some simple techniques that can be applied to most fabrics.


Step 1

Use tea to stain the fabric. This will give the canvas an aged and distressed look. Use clean, wet fabric when staining. Simply brew enough tea to fit into a small bucket. Dip your canvas fabric into the tea and let soak for as long as desired. Stir occasionally and check the color saturation every five to 10 minutes. Allow to fully dry before using.

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Step 2

Score your fabric to create a worn look. Using a wire brush, scrub the dry canvas fabric as thoroughly as desired. You can choose to scrub the entirety of your fabric, or just several areas for a more uneven look. Occasionally, spray the canvas fabric with water and scrub with the wire brush. Once it dries, it will look more distressed than dry scoring.


Step 3

Slice the canvas fabric with a sharp razor blade. Or, puncture small holes into the fabric. Fray the edges of the cuts with the wire brush for a very distressed look. Pull around the edges of the cuts to further the damage. If further distress is desired, beat the fabric on a hard, uneven surface like broken concrete.


Step 4

Machine wash and dry. Especially if pre-cut, this is an easy way to add further distress to your fabric. Consider staining with tea, dirt, wine, or paint before washing. For an even more distressed look, repeat washing and drying your canvas fabric. Allow to fully dry before use.

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