At old times sailcloth was woven from pure hemp or linen. Other natural fibres like nettle or flax were also used to make it. Cotton cloth fabrics were not manufactured until the 19th century. The cloths were not only used for sailmaking but also for making cargo hold covers, tarps and awnings. Tents, hammocks, bags, pouches and sacks were also made from sailcloth. Old types of cloth create an authentic effect on traditional working boats and classic yachts. Dry storage, good ventilation and regular impregnation with tannin or Hydrolin are particularly important with this type of cloth.
An easy-care alternative to natural fibre cloths is offered by Duradon cloth. It is made of UV-resistant and tear-proof synthetic fibre but looks similar. The service life of tarpaulins and awnings can be extended by good fastening. The cloth should be well stretched and not flap in wind. It can be worthwhile to use lacing buttons or LOXX fasteners, or to use a punch and die and a cutting punch to punch in a few additional tarpaulin eyelets or brass grommets.