DIY Crafts: How To sew Burlap Fabric Without Mistakes

You may have seen the use of burlap around your home in many different things. It includes ropes, draperies, burlap pillows, furniture upholstery, tablecloths, autumn wreaths, and other home decor items. Yet, you’d be surprised at how often burlap is used in your house. With the popularity of rustic interior design, it is used more often inside homes.

a crate with burlap fabric and a gray moose toy

Knowing how to sew this fabric isn’t a common talent, but knowing how to do it is a bonus. So if you want to dedicate your recent sewing projects to burlap, you’re at the right place. This skill will also come in handy in case any burlap around your house needs mending. Whether it’s a burlap bag, burlap curtains, or a burlap table runner, we’ll tell you how to DIY it all. Read on to find a complete tutorial on sewing this fabric. All you need is your sewing machine (or a handheld one) and a little patience.

What is burlap?

Also known as jute and hessian, this fabric is made up of the dry skin of the Corchorus capsularis plant. It is an organic fibre that is sometimes combined with other vegetable fibres to make various products. The fabric was first manufactured by the people of ancient India and used in their everyday lives. Not only did they make fabric out of this useful fibre, but they also manufactured very durable papers. 

The word Burlap is derived from the Middle English term “Borel”, meaning “Coarse cloth”. This word defines the texture of this fabric which is quite rough and coarse. At first, this fabric was used to make carpets, strong ropes, twines, and fresh produce sacks. They are widely used in various industries like food packaging, home decoration, shipping of goods, craft projects, and fashion accessories. Synthetic varieties of this fabric are softer and more suitable for clothing items.

Types of burlap fabric

Burlap is a versatile fabric that comes in a variety of types. Each type serves a different purpose due to its unique properties. Here are the four basic types of burlap that you can easily get your hands on:

laminated burlap on a wooden surface

1. Bituminized burlap:

A Hessian cloth that is infused with bitumen is known as Bituminized Burlap. Bitumen, also known as asphalt, is utilised for its water resisting qualities. This Bituminized fabric is completely waterproof, making it ideal for heavy-duty outdoor uses. It is commonly used for making tents, sheds, outdoor mats, and construction work. You can also use burlap to make hanging baskets or to protect your plants from frost.

2. Laminated burlap:

A laminated burlap has its backside laminated with polythene. This treatment adds a water resistance property to the fabric. The laminated version of this jute-based fabric is used as table covers, mats, drawer and cabinet liners, grocery bags, and banners.

3. Flame retardant burlap

A Flame Retardant Burlap is treated to resist high temperatures and flames. It is not entirely fireproof but saves the damage to a good extent. The food industry widely uses it to store and transport food items. Due to its increasing popularity, it is also used for quilting, kitchen accessories, and mobile homes. 

4. Faux burlap

A man-made variety of burlap manufactured with 100% polyester is used for clothing and home decoration purposes. Its soft surface has replaced rough, organic burlap in the fashion industry. Bags, hats, burlap ribbons, clothes, and shoes can easily be made up of faux burlap

You can get your hands on all types of burlap from your local fabric store. Or you can place an order online through an authentic web store. 

Before you begin: some important tips

Burlap is not like your average piece of cotton fabric. It is very loosely woven, which makes it susceptible to a lot of errors while stitching. However, here are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind while working with this jute based fabric. Not only will these tips make your sewing project a whole lot easier, but they also ensure neatly finished stitching. Here are a few helpful tips to consider before sewing burlap.

close up of burlap fabric on a black surface

Burlap can be messy: 

It is made up of an organic fibre extracted from the skin of a dry plant. The burlap surface can be dusty and dirty most of the time. If you buy this fabric in bulk, it is best to wear a mask while dealing with it. The dust particles in the air can be dealt with by properly ventilating the room.

1. The never-ending frays:

Since this fabric is made with a loose weave, it is prone to fraying quickly. Therefore, always avoid cutting the horizontal threads while cutting. To avoid excess fraying, use a pair of sharp scissors and seal the seam of your fabric. Using a liquid sealant is the most effective way to prevent the material from unravelling. 

2. Use a finer stitch setting: 

The best way to tackle a loose weave is by decreasing the length of your stitches. If you are sewing by hand, use a fine needle to create small backstitches. However, if you use a machine, you can change the settings to create smaller zigzag stitches. It will capture more fabric into the stitches to make fraying almost impossible. 

3. Burlap loosens quickly:

While working with burlap, avoid stretching the fabric in any direction. The road gaps between the weave make it prone to loosening. Instead, work along the straight lines of the material to avoid any stretches. Apply a seam fusing tape, hot glue, or durable interfacing on the edges to restrain the fabric from changing shape while working. 

4. Clean your workstation: 

It can be pretty messy to work with this fabric with all the dust particles and fraying threads. Keep cleaning your workstation and sewing machine to avoid obstacles and errors in your project. If dust and fibre particles start accumulating, they can easily clog parts of your machine

With these few tricks up your sleeve, you can easily handle any burlap fabric for your upcoming projects. 

How to sew burlap fabric

Now that you know everything about this fabric, it’s time to start your fun burlap project.

a woman sewing burlap fabric with her sewing machine

Preparations:

Before getting started with your needle and thread, you need to prep the fabric for the best results. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Wash the cloth or clean it with a damp cloth to prevent your project from turning messy. Use warm water while properly cleaning the fabric. 
  2. Straighten the fabric out using the highest heat settings on your fabric iron. It is quite a tough fabric, so you might need to go over with your iron more than twice
  3. Use the sharpest fabric scissors to cut burlap fabric to prevent further fraying. You can also use good quality crafters scissors to cut a tightly woven burlap cloth. 

With hand:

Burlap is a net-like fabric which means you can use the holes to pass your needle. Use a thicker thread when you are working with porous fabric like this. Cross stitch and zigzag stitch are the best options for this material. 

With sewing machine:

  1. Attach a heavy-duty needle to your machine and a thick thread to ensure no breakage while stitching. 
  2. Change the machine settings to shorter stitches to closely pack the fibres. Zigzag or serger stitch settings are ideal for this cloth. 
  3. Stitch in straight lines when working with this material. Avoid making frills, valances, ruffles with this fabric, or it will end up unravelling. 
  4. Make sure to lock the seam with the recommended serger stitches or seal tapes. It will add durability to your finished product. 
  5. Decorate your product with fabric paints. You can use trendy stencils, embroidery patterns, and wooden embellishments.

pieces of burlap fabric and a thick white rope.

Burlap can be a tricky fabric to work with, so knowing how to sew it is a handy skill. But, with our complete tutorial, tips, and tricks, you can get started with your craft project to create burlap masterpieces instantly. So, grab your machine and some burlap and start your DIY project right away!

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