How To Use A Sewing Awl On Canvas

If you will be sewing heavy materials such as canvas or leather, there aren’t many tools that you can use. A sewing awl is a major tool for sewing on canvas. An awl is an ancient tool that has been used on hard fabrics for ages. In the beginning, the awl was made from bones. It has a sharp pointed edge that pierces through hard fabrics such as canvas easily.

How To Use A Sewing Awl On Canvas?

To sew with an awl, start by threading its bobbin and putting it back in its casing. Thread the awl through the threading holes to the hole in the needle you want to use. The awl needle has a groove through which the sewing thread passes. Insert your needle in the canvas fabric then pull some thread from the needle. Pull the needle back leaving a long thread on the lower side. Make your next awl insertion. Pull the awl slightly backward to make a loop on the thread then pass the hanging thread through it. Pull the needle backward to close and tighten the loop.

Canvas is hard to work on. Normal sewing needles and sewing machines can’t get through it. That is why you need the awl. It has a hard and sharp needle that you can use to sew canvas. Here is how to use an awl to sew canvas.

Steps To Using A Sewing Awl To Sew Canvas

  1. Thread the awl bobbin and put it back in its bobbin casing in the awl.
  2. Thread the awl with the thread in the bobbin. Pass the thread through the groove on the awl and the hole at the base of the needle and the needle hole.
  3. The awl comes with a curved and straight needle. The straight needle is the best t for your canvas sewing project. Awl needles come with a groove that the sewing thread should lie in when sewing.
  4. Fix your needle with the grooves aligned. Pass your needle through the eye of the needle making sure the thread is aligned to the grooves.
  5. Pass your thread through the chuck lock and then screw it onto the base of the needle tightly. You are now ready to start sewing with your awl.
  6. You can pre-drill holes onto the canvas or make the stitching holes as you sew.
  7. Insert your needle into the fabric to make your first stitch.
  8. Pull a considerable length of thread from your needle then pull the needle back.
  9. Make the second stitch by inserting the needle back into the canvas.
  10. Pull the needle back slightly leaving a loop on your thread.
  11. Insert the thread on the back of your fabric through the loop and pull back the needle as you hold the thread tightly to form a tight stitch as you close the loop.
  12. Repeat the above step to make stitches along the length of the canvas you are sewing.
  13. To work well with an awl, you need to have access to both sides of the material you are working on.

Benefits Of Using An Awl To Sew Canvas

  1. You don’t need to have pre-drilled holes on the canvas you are sewing.
  2. It is strong and sharp to pierce through tough fabrics such as canvas and leather.
  3. It is handheld providing access to both sides of the fabric, thus enabling strong and tight stitches.
  4. Can easily control the thread tension with its inbuilt tension dial that looks like a tack pin on the surface of the awl. Just twist your thread around it for enhanced tension.
  5. Comes with two needles that you can use depending on what you are sewing. A straight and curved needle.
  6. It can be used for many tasks. You can use it to sew or boreholes on leather and canvas.
  7. It is cost-effective as it can carry out numerous tasks. You don’t have to buy different needles and sewing machines when you have an awl.
  8. Sewing awls are easy to use.

Parts Of A Sewing Awl That You Will Use To Sew Canvas


The handle on an awl is the part you hold when using the awl. It is usually made of wood. It takes up most of the awl. It is also hollowed out so that it can hold to the thread spool.


It is a tightening device that holds the needle in place.


An awl has different types of needles for different kinds of sewing, You can use the straight or curved needle. The awl also has storage space for the needles on its surface. They are the part of the awl that you use to sew.

Bobbin Size Spool

This holds the thread that is used for your project. It is held in the hollow part of the awl handle.

Lock Wrench

As its name suggests, this is a tool that is used to tighten the chuck on the awl.

What Can You Use An Awl For

  1. Sewing hard fabrics such as canvas and leather.
  2. Repairing your leather products. You can use an awl to sew through your leather shoes and sandals. You can also use it to bore holes on your leather belt if need be.
  3. Making marks on wood
  4. Reams wood and other materials such as metal, leather, and canvas.
  5. Punch holes in wood products that are not very heavy such as plywood.
  6. Breaking glass and ceramics.
  7. Cleaning cylindrical products such as pipes.
  8. You can use it to measure the depths of holes.
  9. When working with an awl, you need to make sure that you are safe. Make sure that your work from a strong working surface. Work from a hard surface or use a clamp to ensure that your needle doesn’t pierce through your skin or hurt anyone.

Types Of Awls For Sewing Canvas And Hard Fabrics

Stitching Or Leather Awl

This is a diamond-shaped owl used to sew leather. It contains a hole through which threads are inserted.

Harness Awl

An awl designed to make holes in canvas and leather. It is also known as a stitching awl.

Punch Awl

An awl that is used to punch holes in hard fabrics, wood, and metal.


Used mostly in carpentry. It has a chisel shape top used to make holes in wood for nails and screws.

Tapered Awl

Makes holes in heavy fabric without cutting. It is also known as stabbing or sailmakers awl.

Tips When Working With An Awl

It has sharp needles. This is one of the main features that allow it to be used to sew leather and fabric. Many needles are sharp but not as the awl. It is important to always have regard for safety as we use the awl.

Safety. When working with an awl, don’t place it on your laps. This may lead to severe injuries that may be severe as the sharp needles get into the hard fabric. If the needles get through to your skin, you will be seriously injured.

The material you are working on. Awls are used with tough fabric. They are used on wood, leather, canvas, and other tough materials. Light materials will not hold onto the canvas needles as simply as possible.

You need advanced sewing skills to work with an awl. To use this tool, you need to be dexterous enough to make straight stitches while you sew. With good sewing skills, you will have appealing stitches. You must be able to make straight stitches as you sew. This is whether you are using a canvas or leather.



I'm Jessica Flores, a professional fashion designer and an expert seamstress. Crafting has always been a deep-seated passion of mine, one that has flourished and evolved over the years. I've dedicated considerable time to both studying and practicing in the realm of fashion and sewing, amassing a wealth of experience and skills. It brings me great joy to share these insights and experiences with you all, hoping to inspire and foster a similar passion for the art of sewing.

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