At Bags of Ideas, our biggest selling promotional items by a long shot come from our Cotton and Canvas range. People love them! However I regularly get asked: “What is the difference between Cotton and Canvas”.
My usual answer refers to the weight of the material – but actually there’s more to it than that. So prepare to be wowed as I weave my way through the finer details of Cotton and Canvas bags!
The confusion starts with one simple fact: a Canvas bag is made from cotton, though not a lot of people know that.
Cotton is a classic yet comparatively cheap material for promotional items. It’s organic, natural and durable, and sourced by us from ethical, fair-trade and eco-friendly suppliers. It’s popular with women users and a favourite with young and old.
But the real difference lies in the way the material is constructed – its weave. This blog aims to detail the different types of weave, so that when you come to order a Cotton bag – you know exactly what you need!
Cotton – as used in our most popular product the 5oz shopper bag – is known as Calico. This is closely (but lightly) woven – meaning it doesn’t stretch but will let light through – unbleached cotton. It has natural character with random specks of colour throughout, as seen in the close-up below.
The material has a low level of transparency – meaning the contents of any bag will be slightly visible. For example, the shape and colour of a product will be apparent. And please note: Calico is definitely not waterproof!
Nevertheless, it’s a great option for a promotional tote or duffel bag, being strong, hard wearing and cost effective in any quantity. At Bags of Ideas, printed classic shopper bags start at less than 57p per unit (plus VAT)! Added to that, the bag surface is perfect for printing, be it screen, transfer or digital full colour designs – good quality detail can be achieved, even photos, and the material absorbs inks well, allowing for long-lasting brand awareness, simply add your logo.
Cotton Calico also lends itself to colour dying without too much added cost; a huge selection of hues are available “off-the-shelf” so you will find one that compliments your brand image without breaking the bank.
Canvas by definition is a strong, unbleached, course material, and though it does not have to be made from Cotton to be Canvas, in the promo business, when we refer to a Canvas bag, Cotton Canvas is assumed
What differentiates between Cotton Calico and Cotton Canvas is the structure of the material. Canvas – what many would call Heavy Cotton – features a tight weave, as can be seen below. A bag like this one constructed in 10oz material is a great example of a standard Canvas tote.
The weave of Canvas, unlike Calico, renders it opaque so the contents of a bag are hidden from view. Natural Canvas has similarities in look to Calico, including those random speckles, but its weave makes it is a lot stronger – meaning it is perfectly suited to large shopping or ready-for-anything kit bags for school or the gym.
As with Calico, Canvas is not naturally waterproof but it can be treated to become so because its weave is tight enough to hold on to a sealant material. Generally, however, promotional bags are sold untreated.
The tighter weave also means more Cotton is used in production so a Canvas bag will be more expensive and heavier, though of course, you are getting more bag for your buck!
Heavy Canvas is a great option for a “Bag for Life”, and with the UK Bag Tax introduced in 2015, there is great opportunity to market your business with a robust, long-lasting Canvas shopper.
The final option we look at today is Cotton Drill. While similar to Canvas in the sense that it has a tight weave, the pattern created is much more attractive. This twill weave – as featured below – with its attractive ridges, adds a lovely texture to the material and is similar in finish to denim.
We generally do not routinely stock Drill Cotton promotional bags since they are made from quite a specific quality material, which makes them more expensive than the Canvas or Calico. For this reason, Drill Cotton is generally used only for a high status bespoke item.
Our custom dust bags – designed as a protective cover for quality items like handbags, shoes and jewellery – are a perfect example of the correct use of Drill Cotton. With luxury, prestige items, available from high-end retailers and outlets, having a classy-looking branded promotional bag to compliment is quite important, and maintains commercial presence every time the treasured item is taken out of the wardrobe.
Drill Cotton is also used in a variety of other products such as clothing, home furnishings and aprons, and there is a huge variety of colour ways already available. That means there is a good chance of finding a match for any corporate colour, rather than having to dye the material for a project, which can be costly.
Now you're cottoned on
As a rule of thumb, if you’re looking for a value shopper bag, Calico is your choice, for a mid-range offering, use Canvas and, if you are going bespoke, or want something more luxurious, consider Drill Cotton.
If you are unsure about anything we have discussed or would just like some advice in choosing a promotional Cotton bag, the friendly team at Bags of Ideas is always here to help, so please feel free to contact us.contact us.