Canvas [kan-vuhs] is a name given many fabrics. A closely woven cloth usually of cotton, but sometimes of hemp or linen, it is made in a variety of weights and is used for apparel, tents, outdoor furnishings, and sails (called sailcloth).
It became popular after WWII for bags, sneakers, and casual wear. It is also stretched on frames and used by artists for oil paintings (artist canvas).
Generally, canvas is printed after weaving, but some yarn dyed product is also available, especially awning stripe.
Though an equally heavyweight cotton, canvas is different from denim because it is a plain weave rather than a twill weave.
The name duck is sometimes used interchangeably with canvas, but it is actually a type of canvas with a very tight weave mostly used for clothing and accessories.
Another type of canvas is called drill, which is used for awnings, tents, etc. Ada or java canvas is made with an open weave and used as a base for needlework, as are cross-stitch or penelope. Hair canvas is an interfacing material. The finest grade of canvas is called mosaic.
Royal Navy Canvas and Merchant Navy Canvas in England are made in accordance with strict specifications, as is the United States Government Navy Canvas.
In the U.S. canvas is graded either by weight (from 5 to 50 ounces per square yard) or by number running reverse to weight. That is, if a canvas is a number 10, it will be lighter than a number 5. The word canvas is derived from the Latin word cannabis (or hemp) which was the fiber for early canvas fabrics.