You might want to keep in mind that I've been out of the professional game for a while, and that I tend to shoot people "in the wild" these days, so I'm not fully up to date on the latest deals. I was really hoping to see some other information here from people who have more recent experience in a professional study environment, but here goes:
The canvas is extremely durable, but it is not particularly portable or storable. As a painted cloth, it is suitable for surface cleaning (wipe with a cloth or sponge); As a dyed fabric, it should allow light colors to get a bit dirtier over time and shadows to fade – dry cleaning, rather than washing, helps, just like dark storage in a sealed bag. White is not very white unless the canvas is painted (whitening only takes it a long way), so you need space to illuminate the background separately if you want something that is apparently White. (We will take as read that if you want "digitally white", you must overexpose none background.)
The canvas can be quite heavy; Even the lightest grades of cotton duck sold as "canvas" are in the 10-12oz range. region and painted finishes add considerably to that, so you need a sturdy mount (not necessarily a certified and approved official bottom mount set, but a pair of thumbtacks won't). It takes and shows wrinkles and folds, although over time they will relax until they are almost invisible if the canvas is dyed and without size (and can be ironed). The painted canvas really needs to be treated like a roll of paper; The binder in the paint (even if there is no visible paint film) makes wrinkles and wrinkles very prominent. It's a great thing for interchangeable stages or a durable seamless material, but they really do need to be kept hung or rolled up (and it can take days to hang them up so they can be used if they were bent, even around a form, when you bought them).
Synthetics may have changed the game a bit since the last time I looked; I imagine something more than the dropcloth grade cotton duck (which was the base fabric for all the lightest canvases I have ever worked with) could behave somehow better, but I haven't seen any evidence of them in my local Pro Photo Emporia.
I don't know what kids are doing with muslin these days, but back in my day it was the placement alternative to dappled canvas bottoms. Muslin is not only much lighter and slightly cheaper, but it also removes wrinkles better. Yes, that was the point. Bringing the canvas to a location meant carrying a long, unwieldy roll of cloth, carefully folding it and having a regular crease pattern (which looks like a bad background image from the web page), or having a very prominent web of irregular creases . The canvas is a heavy cloth; he just wrinkled a lot. Muslin, on the other hand, is very light and glorifies the ability to take on an almost fractal irregular wrinkled texture if you simply wrinkle it and store it in a bag. When that texture is combined with the smooth mottling that is usually applied, it just disappears. If you want a smooth background, you should treat the muslin with almost the same care as the canvas.
Muslin tends to be made from a higher grade yarn than canvas (looms and home yarns are used for things like bedding rather than industrial applications and motifs for painting when they are not doing their twenty minutes a year of photographic applications) That means fading and dying results tend to be better – you can get good white and bright, vivid colors without painting as well as dark dyes without gloss. But wrinkles and folds will always be a problem if you need to store or move them.
T-shirts tend to get around the problem of wrinkles and wrinkles very clearly, which is why they create great solid color backgrounds. Being fabrics, of course, they will wrinkle and wrinkle, but those wrinkles and folds can be easily stretched. But as the man said, there is no free lunch.
T-shirts don't just hang there; they practically need to be stretched. If you put a plain jersey bottom panel on a standard bottom bracket, the top may be the advertised width, but it will come down to this little six-inch-wide cylinder at the bottom. You must fasten the fabric to the studs to maintain width, and the clamps must be frequent enough to avoid creating a visible diamond pattern due to variations in tension. And it is more or less a background material; It doesn't work well without problems, even if you try to stretch and weigh the perimeter of the piece on the floor / table. (Elasticity means that a bubble almost always appears somewhere.) However, it is a fantastic popup and works great in a frame – wrinkles just disappear.
And therein lies the problem of pills. If you never need to clean the fabric, it can be like new for a long time. If you need to wash it, you must remember that this is actually just an oversized shirt. Handwashing in cold water in the tub by squeezing it (no shaking) and hanging it to dry works well, but anything harder than that will ruin it. If it's something that's going to experience a lot of shaking, it's the wrong tissue.
Velvet / velvet
These make great solid colors (assuming we are not talking about the "squashed" variety) and there is no substitute for black velvet as an absolute black, apart from the immense distance: light enters and does not come out again. The nap hides wrinkles and wrinkles on the base fabric very well. For lighter / brighter colors, you may need to brush the surface of the nap to avoid apparent color changes (one of those big slate erasers which is essentially a foam rubber block with a stick inside and a suede glued onto one side is very fast and effective for this). Velvet / Velvet is ideal for solid whites, solid absolute blacks, and chromakey-like colors, and a white or gray panel combined with gelled lighting can make very smooth gradients. Velvets can be surprisingly light (although some made as lining fabrics, i.e. fabrics of adequate weight to use for coats, and those based on a knitted fabric rather than a fabric, can be surprisingly heavy).
Velvet and velvet, however, are lint magnets, and the lighter colors can detect dirt handling quickly. They are not absolutely suitable for uninterrupted applications involving anything heavy (such as a person or even a large tabletop subject) – napping again after being completely crushed is a difficult job.
There is a wide variety of washability: the name really only tells you what the fabric surface looks like; It doesn't tell you much about the underlying construction. Some will go bald if you see them funny, some will feel, others will laugh at your "hot" water and small washing machines. Some will dry quickly and easily, others will soak up Lake Superior in one gulp and be ready to use again next February if you're lucky. It is probably safe to assume that any company that relies on the goodwill of professional photographers (Lastolite, Photek, Photoflex, Westcott, etc.) will sell you something suitable for that purpose; but as with anything else in life, I would be suspicious of anything that is priced at the "too good to be true" level; It may work immediately, but it is probably disposable.
If you are working in a small space (there is no real space to separately illuminate the background evenly from the front) and you need something that is digitally white instead of just white (i.e. something that not only looks white to the viewer, and it may have shadows, but in reality it will be all F when you look at the values), then it may be worth looking back. Commercially, that means using a huge softbox or something like Lastolite's Hilite background system (which is essentially a low-sidelight softbox). A DIY version would not be too difficult to create: the only piece that is critical is the diffusion panel, and that is really "critical" in the sense that it must be perfect (one piece). The rest is just reflective fabric (which may be the cheapest silver lamé you can find at the fabric store, and can be full of stitching everywhere) and a hanging frame (PVC, anyone?).