Thread Theory

Welcome to the new era of menswear sewing. Go ahead and create something exceptional!

Get to know Otterwax


diy northwester bagEver since launching Otter Wax in our store, we have received a lot of curious emails and comments about the uses of this mysterious product.  Well, here  is your answer!  I have compiled a few different tutorials and links from around the web that feature Otter Wax as a finish for ready made garments and DIY projects.  Hopefully these will leave you inspired to start waxing!


First of all, you might be interested to read a little more about the maker of Otter Wax – Chris Chase.  He is an inspiring entrepreneur based out of Portland, Oregon who is committed to providing natural fabric and leather care products, and, most recently, apothecary products!waxed motercylce jacket

Now that you know a little about Chris, now have a look at what other people have used Otter Wax for: Check out this gorgeous waxed jacket as an alternative to the classic leather motorcycle jacket – complete with wind and water resistant qualities!

waxed shirt

Waxing a heavy button-up shirt turned this garment into the perfect work shirt – ideal for chopping wood on a misty morning and generally just wearing 24/7 until it becomes a soft, wrinkled and pleasantly worn second skin.

waxed skinnies

Otter Wax isn’t only for menswear style garments!  Female style and DIY bloggers have embraced it as the perfect way to create sexy waxed skinnies (which would create a look similar to leather pants but be WAY easier to sew btw…and in my opinion, more flattering and forgiving).

canvas bag


And, of course, Otter Wax, used as it was originally intended, is the perfect tool to wax canvas or tin cloth jackets and bags.  It instantly creates a worn in and rugged look and gives the fabric water resistant properties.  If you are in doubt about the effectiveness of Otter Wax, have a look at this experiment and tutorial over on The Art of Manliness in which Otter Wax is tested on several types of fabric (even wool!).  Thanks to one of our readers for sending us this article!


The two shaving kits that I made using Otter Wax used about 1/3 of the bar for a medium level of wax coverage…soooo I’ve got 2/3 left to use for another project, yay!  Last weekend there was a garage sale a few houses down from us so I came home with a really old (and worn) wood framed rucksack.  It looks similar to the backpacks used in WWII but the owner said it wasn’t used in the army and that he owned it since it was new.  Needless to say, the canvas needs a little help if it is going to survive a few more seasons.  I think Otter Wax will come nicely to the rescue!  And I’m hoping it will mask the musty smell of old canvas stored in what must have been a very dusty attic :P.

Note: As you can see from these various tutorials, some people simply rub the wax onto the fabric and leave it to cure for 24 hours while others apply heat with a hair dryer either before or after applying the wax.  I’ve found that Otter Wax works just great when applied as instructed on the package (no heat), but if you are applying it to a rough or napped fabric and it isn’t spreading very smoothly, heat might be a good idea!

What projects would you like to wax?  Has anyone tried it on a wool cap yet (I think that would be AWESOME) or on sneakers (a common use for it)?


18 thoughts on “Get to know Otterwax

  1. Pingback: Cahon Carrying – Part 1 – Prolific Project Starter

  2. I recently waxed a canvas jacket but after having it sit to cure for a number of days and then wearing it, it still feels sticky and ended up forming small wax clumps where the fabric had creased or rubbed on something. Just wondering how to fix that and what the best method is for applying because it seems I applied too much but yet it was just enough to make it smooth. Suggestions?

    • I would recommend using a hair dryer on it! I like to heat the wax until it fully melts and then rub it in to the fabric. You can also try placing the jacket in the dryer (with a towel) or even in the oven on the lowest setting (which is risky but provides great overall heat) but I usually find the hair dryer is enough to melt the wax entirely so it can be rubbed in. It will likely still look a little bit chalky at the creases as you wear the jacket for a while – many factory waxed jackets crease like this as well when they are freshly waxed. This causes the wax to work in at the natural crease points to create that gorgeous crinkly, distressed patina. Some fabrics can take quite a while to cure but I promise you your jacket will stop being sticky soon! Once the wax is fully cured (in my experience it has ranged from almost immediately after I blow dry the wax to 3 or 4 weeks of hanging in a closet) it will not be sticky in the slightest. Good luck!

  3. Pingback: How to Wax Canvas Fabric | Radiant Home Studio

  4. Pingback: Radiant Home Studio » Men's Waxed Canvas Messenger Bag

  5. I just tried Otter Wax for the first time about a month ago on canvas shoes that I made, and it’s actually surprisingly waterproof. I’ve worn my shoes on wet, rainy days and the water doesn’t get through at all (I haven’t tried jumping in any puddles, though). The one major downside for me is that the stuff becomes a dirt and dust magnet. My shoes look about 10 years old now and they’re only a month old! That could have something to do with the dry climate I live in, though. I think I need to just have separate pairs for wet and dry days.

    • Really interesting to hear (and it’s so cool that you made your shoes!)! Did you use heat to cure the wax or did you rub it on and let it sit for 24 hours? I have read that all you need to do to make the waxed fabric look fresh again is use a stiff bristle brush to redistribute the wax and coax off the dirt. I’d be really curious to hear if this works for you!

      • I used a blow dryer, rubbed it in, and let it sit for 24 hours. I didn’t want to take any chances! I’ll have to try using a stiff brush – thanks for the suggestion!

  6. Totally intriguing! Can you wash garments that you’ve waxed? (I hope that’s not a silly question, and I have checked out several links.sites to see if I could find out but nope.)

    • Not a silly question – it is also one that I had when I first heard of Otter Wax! If you want your garment to remain waxed, you should use a bristled brush to ‘sweep’ off dirt from your garment. If you really want to wash it (as you likely would if you waxed pants), I have read that you can hand wash the garment with a delicate soap. I’d really recommend using very cold water though so that the wax doesn’t melt off. I’d also recommend either adding a fresh layer of wax after hand washing or re-rubbing the wax into the fabric (or even use a blow dryer to aid the fabric in re-absorbing the wax).

  7. One thing I’ve always been curious about is if you are wearing something that has been waxed whether the wax comes off on other pieces of clothing or furniture? Does it feel greasy at all? I love the idea of a waxed canvas backpack but have never been game!!

    • Most of the bags I’ve made with Otterwax have totally cured and are not sticky at all. They feel kind of like a beeswax candle does – the texture kind of ‘grabs’ at my fingers when I rub the fabric but it doesn’t come off onto them. The one really heavily waxed bag that I made feels a little greasy but I just experimented with a hair dryer as Jodi (who commented about her camera bag) describes in her blog posts. Within a couple seconds of heat the wax really seemed to sink into the fabric and I rubbed it with my fingers to aid in the process – it’s really neat to see the different effects that can be achieved by applying the wax with various techniques. Even before I used heat though, the tacky wax didn’t rub off onto my clothes when I rubbed the bag on them. I hope you’ll give it a try for a backpack – it would be perfect for that!

  8. I love otterwax. I made a waterproof camera bag for my husband. I love how rugged the wax makes fabric look.

    • Wow, I LOVE it! That’s really interesting to see how heating the wax changed the texture and appearance of the bag so much. I better show your bag to Matt, he’s going to want one for his camera!

  9. Like Erin said, looking the pants, it makes me curious about the wax. I would never have thought use for pants, but I like! It would have been helpful when we were traveling and rained!

  10. I am so curious about this stuff! I never would have thought about it for pants, but it looks awesome!

    • I like the look too 🙂 Keep in mind that it’s all about experimenting – depending on what type of fabric the pants are made out of will depend on what appearance the Otter Wax gives to them. So far I’ve found textured fabrics will end up looking richer and ‘aged’ and smoother fabrics will look slicker and more smooth…but that’s not a hard fast rule!

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