Archival Clothing - Made in USA

Posts Tagged ‘Steele Canvas Basket Company’

New Release – Archival x Steele Canvas Tall Tote

November 10th, 2014

The Steele Canvas Tote is perfect for your large capacity toting needs. We use them regularly for toting lightweight, bulkier items around the house and away. Steele Canvas Totes are constructed from stout #4 natural canvas duck, un-dyed to ensure maximum fabric strength. Stiff edges and a boxed bottom enable the tote to stand upright and open for easy loading and unloading. Two reinforced 5″ handles. Our version of the Tall Tote features The Steele Basket original stencil which was recreated for Archival from archival illustrations. We also added a U.S. stencil on back to identify the bag’s manufacturing origin. To order, visit the AC Web shop.

Steele Tote 2014 Angle Lo ResSteele Tote US

Steele Tote Spill HI RES

New Release: Archival x Steele Basket Tote

June 29th, 2012

For summer, we introduce our new waterproof bottom Archival x Steele Canvas Tote which is perfect for your larger capacity toting needs. It’s our favorite bag for carrying essentials to and from the beach or neighborhood swimming pool.

Steele Canvas Totes are constructed from extra-stout #4 natural canvas duck, undyed to ensure maximum fabric strength. A double bottom in waterproof truck tarp ensures you can set it down in challenging conditions. The structure provided by the rectangular and boxy base of the Tote maximizes its load capacity. Really nice, stiff edges enable the Archival Steele Canvas Tote to stand upright and open for easy loading and unloading. Two reinforced 8″ handles and a practical internal pocket round out the design.

17 x 17 x 10

Made in USA





This release of the tote features the original The Steele Basket stencil from the archives.


Our original Archival report on the venerable Steele Canvas Basket company in Chelsea, MA.

Archival Laundry Tote

August 11th, 2011

Last year, we asked the Steele Canvas Basket Company to reissue a square bottom janitor’s tote that we found in an old Steele catalog. We made some minor tweaks to the design, specifying extra heavy duty #4 canvas duck and opting for longer, 6″ handles. Working with Steele, we also brought back the original Steele stencil. In addition to laundry (the bag fits an entire comforter), we’ve been using ours to schlep packages to Fed Ex and the post office. We’ve also found the tote convenient for transporting small children. Here are some updated photos of the bag in action.







Archival Reissue: Steele Canvas Janitor’s Bag

November 8th, 2010
Scene from the Archival Clothing Janitor’s Bag release party

We’re happy to announce the release of our new Steele Canvas Janitor’s Bag. Steele Canvas has been making industrial canvas baskets, hampers, trucks and buggies since 1921. We’ve been working with Steele on a re-issue of the original, square bottomed janitor’s bag that we spotted in a vintage company catalog. We love the enormous scale of this bag. It eclipses even the extra large L.L. Bean Boat and Tote. We use ours for laundry, trips to the post office and open storage around the house. We’ve specified two different handle lengths for your preferred carrying method. The long strap permits you to carry the bag over your shoulder. Great for trips to the laundromat. The shorter handles stay out of the way and let you carry the bag by your side.

While stock Steele bags are made from #6 (21 oz.) canvas duck, ours is produced in natural, untreated #4 (24 oz.) canvas duck. We prefer this weight of canvas duck for its rigidity and durability. Like Brink’s money bags, our janitor’s bags will stay open even when empty.

Shopping from the Steele Canvas print archives

Steele Canvas Basket for Archival Clothing Janitor’s Bag (6″ handle)

Steele Canvas for Archival Clothing Janitor’s Bag (12″ handle)

Field testing an earlier prototype

Laundry eye view of square-bottom construction

Non-standard, super stout, #4 canvas cotton duck

Part of the project for the janitor’s bag was to source an original vintage stencil to match the catalog version. Most of the vintage Steele stencils were no longer in good enough condition to be used for the project. Paul at Steele worked with me and a local stencil maker to produce a new stencil based on an old pattern.

Original Steele stencil

Stencil revision

We have also received a restock of our 17″ Steele Canvas tote w/the new old Steele stencil:

Archival Progress Report

October 20th, 2010
Shawl collar cardigans (late November delivery)

Archival Clothing web belt with Horween leather tip (next week)

Steele Canvas Basket tote w/revised stencil (next week)

Archival Field Bag (coming soon)

On Thursday, we’re heading out to NYC to see Tom and visit shops in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Tom and I will set aside time to review notes on the waxed jacket sample I just picked up from our sewer in Portland. Here are a few more Archival Clothing projects that will be making their debut in the coming weeks and months.

Next week, we’ll have a restock of Archival Clothing web belts. For this production run, we’ve die cut a lightweight Horween hide for the belt tip. The belt will combine three of our favorite archival materials: Horween leather, mil spec cotton webbing and solid brass hardware.

I just received the first sample of our pure new worsted wool, shawl collar cardigan. Centralia Knitting Mills should deliver our full shipment by mid to late November. Look for the sweater in four colorways: multi-weave gray, cardinal red, navy and light gray. We’ve sized the sweaters for everyone from petite women to semi-sizeable gents. I’ll be sporting my sample during shop visits this weekend.

Terry is busy sewing up new runs of our Archival Clothing Rucksacks and Flap Musettes in all colorways. He will also be working on our first small production run of Archival Clothing Field Bags. I’ll file a separate report on this project closer to the release date.

In the next two weeks, we will be taking delivery of more Steele Canvas Basket totes with a stencil based on a vintage company pattern. Our custom janitor’s tote will probably be available by mid-November.

We’re waiting to see the first samples of our discharge printed, US made, all cotton kerchief. Progress report on this project to be filed shortly.

Check back in the next few weeks for more product pix and updates.

And look for an Archival NYC field trip report next week.

Archival Update: Steele Totes Available

August 3rd, 2010

Steele Canvas Basket Co. tote in #4 (24 oz) army duck




We just received our first shipment of Steele Canvas Basket Co. totes. While stock Steele totes are made from #6 (21 oz.) duck, ours will be produced in natural, untreated, stand up stout, #4 (24 oz.) canvas duck. We’re adding a simple internal pocket, 2″ U.S. stencil and requesting an 8″ handle length. Dimensions: 17″ L x 10″ W x 17″ D.

Available here.

Also, Steele sent us the first sample of our square bottomed janitor’s bag. The bag is based on a vintage catalog image from the Steele Canvas Basket Co. archives. We’ve tweaked dimensions, added longer handles and specified that the bag be made in #4 army duck. Let us know what you think.

Steele Canvas Basket Co. janitor’s tote (aka laundry bag).

Archival Totes: Steele Canvas Basket Co.

June 5th, 2010
Steele Canvas Basket Tote (AC edition)

We’re tote bag fans and Steele Canvas Basket Co. is one of our favorite brands. I am almost never without a bag. For my daily bike commute, I carry a shoulder bag plus a (sometimes empty) tote to handle more cumbersome loads or or end-of-day debris (library books, 5 lb bags of coffee, rain gear, etc). I prefer oversize totes since they fold down easily but handle ungainly loads (a weekend’s worth of cycling gear, a month’s worth of newspapers, a load of packages for FedEx). We’re on the fence about tote bag handle length. Some of us prefer full, over-the-shoulder straps while I like a short strap (matching my short arm) that permits me to carry a heavy load without causing the bag to drag on the ground. But again, as an unofficial bag library, Archival Clothing owns many totes with both handle lengths.

Vintage Steele Canvas Basket catalog

We thank Andy over at Reference Library for putting us in contact with Steele Canvas. Here’s Andy’s mighty black Steele Canvas tote. While there are many fine totes on the market (examples here), we prefer versions that have an established commercial use. Steele has been making industrial canvas baskets, hampers, trucks and buggies since 1921. One of their clients is Brink’s Incorporated. While other companies have transitioned from canvas to synthetic carry bags, Brinks insists on using a heavy duty canvas for all their cash delivery bags. I’ve been told that one of the specifications for a Brink’s bag is that it stand up and stay open on its own.

We’ve been working with Steele on two different totes for Archival Clothing. The first, a modification of a stock Steele tote, will be made from the most stout cotton canvas army duck available. While Steele bags are made from #6 (21 oz.) duck, ours will be produced in natural, untreated #4 (24 oz.) canvas duck. We’re adding a simple internal pocket and requesting a 7.5″ handle length that will permit folks with short or long arms to comfortably carry the tote by their side. Paul at Steele has helped us develop a simple 2″ U.S. stencil for the bag. Bag dimensions: 17″ L x 10″ W x 17″ D.

2″ U.S. stencil

Made in U.S.A. (Chelsea, MA, to be exact)

Simple inside pocket

Our second bag will be a re-issue of the original, square bottom janitor’s bag. The bag will likewise be made from untreated, natural #4 canvas duck. Dimensions: 14″ L x 14″ W x 24″ D

Vintage Steele Canvas Basket Janitor’s Bag

We’d also like to point out that we’re now offering our own Archival Clothing tote in 22 oz. gray waxed twill (in addition to ranger tan twill and navy waxed cotton).

Archival Field Trip – Unionmade, San Francisco

February 24th, 2010

Unionmade was one of our top destinations while in San Francisco last month. Todd has been getting lots of good press for his new store, and we wanted to swing through a take a look for ourselves. Well – with a list of products like this, it’s hard to go wrong, but it’s even better than expected thanks to the flawless presentation. It’s a comfortable store, not too crowded nor too sparse, and Todd’s long history in retail really shows. I was most excited about getting my hands on elusive Armor-Lux products, but it was also great to see a wide range of SNS Herning knits, Steele Canvas baggage, and even some bags from our neighbor in Portland, Chester Wallace.

Todd – the knowledgeable and gracious owner of Unionmade – tries on an Archival Clothing Flap Musette.

As soon as we saw the McIntosh stereo set-up, we knew we’d be in good hands.

Gitman and Armor-Lux shirting.

Lynn and Sara were captivated by this industrial-scale Steele Canvas tote, appropriate for serious farmer’s market visits, child transport, or bank robberies.

I became enraptured with this tomato-red Armor-Lux sweater.

Ever ready in a crisis, the Archival Clothing team was even able to help this young gent decide on the SNS Herning sweater best suited to his slight frame. He’s pictured above in Lesli’s Stark Cardigan, but we have the feeling that he went home with a zipper-front model – well done, sir.

Shopping from the past: Steele Canvas Basket Company

May 7th, 2009
At your local library

Canvas work-top table/bench (Steele Canvas Basket Co.)

Six-bushel laundry basket (Steele Canvas Basket Co.)

Thanks to Andy at Reference Library for reintroducing the Steele Canvas Basket Company as a modern, U.S. source for totes, laundry bins and canvas work tables. I first read about the Steele Canvas Co in High Tech: Industrial Style and Sourcebook for the Modern Home, an amazing, Seventies-era design book featuring a number of canvas based storage solutions. Given the book’s date of publication, I had assumed that most of the canvas manufacturers had either gone of out of business or moved production overseas. However, to my surprise, I saw Reference Library’s post on a special edition of a Steele Canvas tote commissioned by Andy in heavy duty black canvas. While waiting for Andy to bring out a next generation version of his tote (w/longer handles!), I ordered a diminutive tote of my own directly from Steele. What’s great about Steele is that they let you semi-customize your bag–permitting you to decide on final shoulder strap length, zipper/no-zipper and canvas panel color configurations. My contact at Steele was even kind enough to send me a few examples of totes created for Japanese clients (see below).

In a future post, I’ll publish some more vintage images from the Steele Basket archives along with photographs of a friend’s soon-to-arrive, custom canvas laundry bin.


Some samples headed to Japan

If synthetics are your thing


Out of the past

Place holder tote