Kreamondo > Blog > Sails & Canvas, the art of repurposing sailcloth


30 April 2019

Sails & Canvas, the art of repurposing sailcloth

Sails & Canvas is a unique store located in the seaside town of Topsham, in South-West England. Friends since childhood, Juliette and Mandi, the founders of the store, have a passion for old sails.

Since opening in 2015, Sails & Canvas has been leading the upcycling movement in Devon by adopting a sustainable approach in the way we repurpose sailcloth.

Kreamondo caught up with them to better understand their story, vision and mission…

© Sails & Canvas

Where did the idea for “Sails & Canvas” come from and how did it come about ?

For many years Sails & Canvas was a traditional sail and cover making business. Then one of the partners retired and the other partner set up a new business. This left us with the opportunity to take on a great sail loft workshop on the quay in Topsham, with a handful of industrial sewing machines, a load of old sails and a head full of products that could be made by reusing them. We relaunched Sails & Canvas in June 2015 with a range of home and lifestyle products, handmade in recycled sailcloth and spinnaker with a splash of colour from marine canvas. Sailcloth is not an environmentally friendly material, not bio-degradable and currently not accepted as a fabric to be shredded and reused as stuffing etc. We hope that our products save some of this fabric from landfill and help look after the planet in some small way.

© Sails & Canvas

Could you present yourselves in a few lines ?

Recycled sailcloth is unique. Its marks and imperfections tell the tale of its former life on an ocean wave. And now it has a new life as this beautiful handmade item. Sailed, Saved and Sewn for you with love from Devon.

© Sails & Canvas

What is the design and crafting process behind each item ? Where do you get old sails and how do you transform them into unique creations ?

We are contacted by people all over the country who want to recycle their old sails with us. It is difficult to dispose of them in some areas and I think sailors like the idea that their sails will go on to have a new life and adventures ! When they arrive we strip out any rope and remove metalwork before cutting the sails into manageable sizes for washing. Then we use the sailcloth according to its weight and suitability for each product type. Heavier weight Dacron is great for deckchairs and storage buckets whereas the lighter weight sails make beautiful beach bags and shoppers. We try to use as much of the sail as possible finishing up the “scraps” for doorstops and sunglass cases.


© Sails & Canvas

You are involved within you community through numerous initiatives. How important is it for shops and creators to engage with local organisations ?

We have been involved with Recycle Devon campaigns, the Refill campaign to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans and more recently 2minute beach clean. When you are in a business that is trying to make an impact on the environment it is great when you can work alongside others with a similar ethos. We are lucky in Topsham to have lots of independent shops with a great variety of offerings. A new initiative called Love Topsham has been set up with the aim of keeping the high street alive – this needs the support of local businesses and shoppers to work to keep the community buoyant and we try to get involved as much as possible.


© Sails & Canvas

What change are you hoping “Sails & Canvas” can bring to Topsham and other cities ?

That’s quite a question ! We would like to think that having a business that reuses and recycles in the community makes people think more about the bigger picture and brings their awareness to the importance of looking after our planet.

© Sails & Canvas

What would you say to someone who wishes to promote and champion upcycling/recycling movements but doesn’t know how to ?

A quick search online will more than likely bring up recycling initiatives in your area. Local councils are also a good place to start your quest.


 “Sailed, Saved and Sewn for you with love from Devon.”

Retrouvez Juliette, Mandi et toutes leurs créations dans leur boutique de Topsham Sails & Canvas ou sur leur site web.

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