Explorer Tote – Waxer Canvas

I finally tried out Robert Kaufman’s Waxer Canvas! If you’ve followed along here you’ll know I love a good waxed canvas. The Waxer Canvas is a bit lighter weight (8.2 oz/yard) than what I’ve usually been using (10-12 oz/yard). I honestly wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, but the more I used it, the more projects I thought would look great using it! I can think of all kinds of projects that aren’t going to need a heavier canvas, they might have curves or too many layers for sewing with something thicker.

Interior (optional recessed zipper omitted)

I sewed up the big size of my Explorer Tote pattern first. I knew it was going to look great using all one fabric for the exterior. Clean and simple yet still interesting to the eye! I used two layers of the Waxer Canvas as the contrast bottom and I think it worked beautifully! For the lining I used Big Sur Canvas in Unbleached. I just love how it turned out! I didn’t add any interfacing to any of the pieces (total time and money saver!). The tote would be great for an overnight bag and can still easily pack up if you needed to fold it flat for storage or an extra take along bag for traveling.

To make things easy on myself I used leather for the handles and strap. I’ve been thinking about adding a leather kit like this to the shop if there might be any interest? Let me know in the comments below! I’ve considered attaching the crossbody strap to the swivel hooks just for the sake of convenience, that way you wouldn’t have to set any rivets.

I love how this bag turned out! It’s perfect for fall! Some other ideas for projects I would try using the Waxer Canvas would be: Crescent Tote, Minimalist Wallet, Fika Tote, Traverse Bag just to name a few!

Exterior Back view

Pattern: Explorer Tote (Large size)
Fabrics: Waxer Canvas (Olive) for exterior, Big Sur Canvas (in Unbleached – my fave!) lining (both by Robert Kaufman Fabrics)

Here are some links to shops that carry Waxer Canvas (includes Etsy and Also, I did some more digging and found more at the following shops: Jones & Vandermeer, Bijou LovelyThree Little Birds, Sewtopia., Crimson Tate, Bolt Fabric, Sew to Speak

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!

Leather and turn lock from my shop (let me know if you’d want pre-made leather handle/strap kits).


33 thoughts on “Explorer Tote – Waxer Canvas

  1. Sharon says:

    Yes, please for the kits! Fantastic bag!!

  2. Sandy says:

    I love the bag! I’ve made several explorer totes, usually with the waxed canvas, so I’m excited to try this. I would buy the leather kit!

  3. Kristie says:

    I wish I had a kit like this when I was making my cargo duffel bag. I added a long strap to it, just because I like the looks of it. But putting leather straps on it would have been amazing! So I say yes to the kit.

  4. Sandy says:

    Yay, finally one bag to tote my uni books and laptop – Just have to finish this semester and make it for next semester!!

  5. sewingkathy says:

    Where do you purchase the waxer canvas? I can’t seem to find it.

    1. Dirinda Skelton says:

      I’m wondering where to buy it too. I’ve looked online but haven’t seen any of the 8.2 oz fabric.

    2. Dirinda Skelton says:

      Sewingkathy, I found some on Etsy at CrosscutSewingCo!

    3. Anna Graham says:

      Hey Kathy! sorry about that, I’ll add a few links in the post!

  6. Jeni says:

    This turned out so pretty! Love the way the waxed canvas looks with the leather, yum! Will have to try this stuff out.

  7. Darcy says:

    I would love the leather kit!

  8. Dawn says:

    I love this bag,…

  9. Ana says:

    Does your pattern include option for the leather straps?

    1. Anna Graham says:

      Hey Ana, you can sub in leather anytime. The pattern is written for fabric handles/straps, but you can definitely substitute leather and or webbing if you wish! The handles on the large size are 1″-wide and the strap is 1.5″-wide.

  10. Nicole B says:

    I would love a kit for the leather handle/strap. I’ve been looking for the right bag to make and I think this is it!

  11. Sarah Hessler says:

    Love it! Another one I’m going to have to make. I would for sure buy the leather handle kit!

  12. Kate Cricco says:

    I love this! can’t wait to make it, and I would also love a leather kit for it! Thanks!

  13. Christine C. says:

    I found a good selection of the Waxer at This fabric takes a little getting used to. I interline it to give it more body and you will be cleaning the feed dog on your machine frequently. It sews up nicely and patinas well.

    1. Martha says:

      Christine, What do you interlink it with? SF101? Thanks!

      1. Christine says:

        No, nothing fusible on waxed canvas. I use a lightweight 7 oz canvas cut from the main exterior pieces then machine baste to the waxer within the seamlines around all edges. Then proceed with construction, treating the interlining canvas and waxer as one. Similar to an interfacing but not fused together, just machine basted.

        1. Martha says:


  14. Felicia a Frakes says:

    I would love a leather kit. I am ordering the waxer fabric as we speak 🙂

  15. Angie Henderson says:

    I would love to get the leather kit with the swivel hooks attached.

  16. Sue Goetschius says:

    Would love the leather strap and handles kit either together or separate-handles aren’t too hard to find but straps are a bit harder. Brown or black. Prefer them without prepunched holes for hand sewing – love this bag!

  17. Megan Doolan says:

    Would love the leather strap and handle kit for this bag. The big look fabulous and I am excited to make one.

  18. Cyndi Nabors says:

    I love this tote…It looks amazing in the Waxer Canvas! I will definitely be making this, and a leather/hardware kit would be perfect. Nothing better than leather handles/straps (and rivets!) on a waxed canvas bag! Thanks for considering it.

  19. Tennille says:

    Love love love this simple, pattern-less fabric version but yet still textured. It’s clean and classic. AND love your boots. Can you post the details please.

    1. Anna Graham says:

      Thanks Tennille, they’re from Madewell a few years back.

  20. Gretchen says:

    Would love a leather kit!

  21. pedlarcr says:

    I love this tote in waxed canvas! It looks so sophisticated with the leather handles and strap!

  22. Alicia Hopkins says:

    I’m so excited about this! I would love a leather handle kit as well!

  23. Debra says:

    When making the tote, did you use 2 layers of the 8 oz waxer canvas and/or any sew-in interfacing? It is thinner that other wxed canvas that I have used.

    1. Christine says:

      I personally have used a lightweight canvas as an interlining between the waxer and the lining…it gives it nice body. Backed each exterior pattern piece with the canvas and basted in place with long machine stitches inside the seam line. I have not made this pattern with the waxer but it worked quite nicely on the Compass bag.

    2. Anna Graham says:

      Just the two layers!

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