Compass Bag – Waxer Canvas

I haven’t made a Compass Bag for a while, and I’m so glad I took the time to make this new sample! I honestly forgot how fun it is to sew. I think some might look at this pattern and think it’s too complicated for them to sew, but it really isn’t too difficult! I really love seeing the Compass Totes that others have made, they are really awesome! If you’d want to take a look, check out the #compassbag on Instagram for some ideas.

So after I made the waxed canvas Explorer Tote, I was curious to try the Waxer Canvas on the Compass Bag. I hadn’t made one yet using waxed canvas and I knew this would be a great one to try. If you’re at all intimidated by working with waxed canvas, I highly encourage you to try this Waxer Canvas by Robert Kaufman.

I’m used to working with heavier weight waxed canvases, but this 8.3 oz. weight is really perfect in my opinion. The lighter weight means it’s a bit easier to get through your machine and bends more easily than a heavier waxed canvas. I do sew both this and heavier weight on my home machine. I don’t own an industrial machine, although I get asked all the time if you have to have one to use these fabrics. The answer is no! 🙂 All I’d recommend is a heavy needle in a size 14 or 16 (denim or Microtex) and a walking foot if your machine doesn’t like to handle a lot of layers with its regular foot. I’d recommend trying a smaller project (zippered pouch) or basic tote if it’s your first time working with waxed canvas. It’ll give you a good feel for how it handles in your particular machine without committing to a long or difficult sew.

This is the small size of the Compass Bag (it has two sizes) and I really love it. This is the shorter fixed length shoulder strap.

Pattern: Compass Bag (small)
Fabric: Waxer Canvas (in Cider) and Big Sur Canvas (Smoky Beige) both by Robert Kaufman Fabrics

Here’s a small list of shops that carry Waxer Canvas (be sure to check with your local shop as well!):

Jones & Vandermeer, Bijou LovelyThree Little Birds, Sewtopia., Crimson Tate, Bolt Fabric, Sew to Speak

Here’s a google search (includes Etsy and

If you are a shop owner or if your local shop carries Waxer Canvas please let me know! I’d love to add the links to this post. Thank you!

22 thoughts on “Compass Bag – Waxer Canvas

  1. Stacy R says:

    That bag is perfect!!

  2. Tennille says:

    I agree, that bag is perfect. I think my bestie needs one for Christmas with a cross-body strap. I might need one too. Gonna hit the thrift store and see about some leather. Thanks for the inspiration! BTW your studio is gorgeous. So clean and airy, ripe with creativity and new patterns.

  3. artcoopsville says:

    Great bag. The waxed canvas is perfect. I keep meaning to sew a few bags, but haven’t got around to it yet. This pattern looks perfect.

  4. Kim says:

    Gorgeous Anna!

  5. Anne B says:

    That size and shape and hardware is perfection, Anna! Can’t wait until my toddler grows up a bit so I can start carrying smaller bags again. I still feel like I need to carry everything but the kitchen sink… Soon, though!

  6. Angela Kirby says:

    Anna, As a result of your post I purchased this pattern from you. Please can you advise how much waxed fabric you used to make bag & pockets. Thanks Angela

    1. Anna Graham says:

      Hi Angela! Because the waxer canvas is wide (57″) you can use a 1/2 yard for the small size (with slip pocket option). Sorry for the delay, wanted to make sure I was giving you correct info.

      1. Maria says:

        Do you know how much Waxer canvas is needed for the larger size?

        1. Anna Graham says:

          It would use a 1/2 yard (slip pocket view with non-fabric strap). 🙂

  7. pedlarcr says:

    The Compass Bag looks great in waxed canvas! Love it!

  8. Alice Collins says:

    How do we do the rivets on the bag? I’d like to make it, but haven’t figured out how I would do the rivets.

    1. Anna Graham says:

      The rivets are totally optional for this project. However, I do have a tutorial here:
      Hope that helps! ?

  9. Mary Hayes says:

    Hi Anna,

    I am about to make the compass bag with blue waxer canvas and a cotton interior. Did you interface the waxer canvas? If so what did you use? Can you iron on the waxer canvas? Would you use a pressing cloth? Steam? no steam? Since I am using a cotton fabric for my interior I am thinking of interfacing with SF 101 to provide more structure to the bag. Would you agree? If you have another recommendation I am definitely interested!!

    Thanks so much for your help!!

    1. Anna Graham says:

      Hi Mary, I did not interface the waxer canvas. I would only recommend a sew-in style interfacing if you’d want. I did use a canvas for the lining which I felt was necessary to make the bag feel the way I wanted. You’d definitely want at least SF101 if you’re using quilting cotton for the lining, if not something a bit heavier. 🙂

  10. Shae says:

    What length leather straps were used?

  11. D says:

    I need this one in white color!
    Can anyone here arrange this for me!

  12. Olivia says:

    I’m starting my own with a similar waxed canvas now! Did you still use the fusible fleece with the waxed canvas?

    1. Anna Graham says:

      Hi Olivia! I did not! But I did use canvas as the lining fabric to help give it a little more structure. 🙂

  13. Wendy says:

    Hi Anna, I’m a little late to this blog post! I’m starting the larger size compass bag with a fake leather exterior and canvas interior, did you alter the d-ring pieces because of the bulk of the fabric? Or would hammering them down do the trick to get them through my machine? Thanks so much!!

  14. Rachael says:

    Hello! Would the Chicago screws work instead of rivets for this?

  15. Sherry Olson says:

    where did you get the very cool waxer canvas, is it from one of your fabric lines?

    1. Anna Graham says:

      Hi Sherry, thank you! I think the Waxer Canvas (manufactured by Robert Kaufman Fabrics) is being discontinued. You might still be able to find some at your local quilt shop (or online). I use Fabric Funhouse’s waxed canvas and AL Frances Textiles waxed canvas, too. Hope that helps!

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