Sewing with Burlap: Tips and Tricks

Burlap is made from stems and skin of the Jute plant. The plant fiber is spun into coarse, strong threads and then woven to make burlap fabric. Jute burlap has a distinct earthy scent and natural imperfections in the fiber. Some burlap is made from hemp or other plant fibers. Traditionally, burlap has been a great material to store food that needs to stay dry, such as coffee beans and potatoes.

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Today you will find burlap in many home dec projects from pillows to wreaths to table runners. Also, crafters use burlap for tote bags, banners, container covers and bulletin boards. With so many uses, both practical and decorative, companies now dye burlap in different colors and print with different designs. Burlap is sold as yardage and spools in various widths. And the best part is that burlap is inexpensive. Let’s find out the best way to sew on burlap!

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Fabric Characteristics of Burlap 

  • Made from the Jute plant; sometimes hemp or other plant fiber
  • Loose weave that easily unravels
  • Very strong
  • Resistant to condensation
  • Prone to shedding
  • Can be dusty and dirty
  • Earthy scent

Care and Use of Burlap

  • Spot clean
  • Not recommended for washing machine or dryer
  • Do not hang in the sun
  • Iron with high heat and steam, if needed
  • Commonly used to store coffee beans
  • Popular with crafters, especially for a farmhouse-style look

Recommended BERNINA Presser Feet for Sewing Burlap


BERNINA has several presser feet designed for sewing over difficult or unusual fabrics. Walking Foot #50 is one of them. This foot has rubber grippers that work with the feed dog to move the layers of fabric evenly. Roller Foot # 51 is another specialty foot to try with burlap. Experiment with both and decide which one works best for your particular project.

BERNINA Three-sole Walking Foot with Seam Guide #50

Three-sole Walking Foot with Seam Guide #50 comes with 3 soles – standard, open and center guide – and 2 seam guides.

BERNINA Roller Foot #51

Roller Foot #51 has 3 rollers in the sole of the foot – one in front and two in back. The rollers help textured, sticky and other difficult fabrics feed easily through the machine.

BERNINA Ruffler #86

Bonus: Try Ruffler #86 to create ruffles and pleats for that farmhouse vibe. Use stabilizer, such as OESD PolyMesh, or interfacing for best results.

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Tips for Sewing Burlap

  1. Decrease stitch length to 1.75 mm – 2mm. This will help prevent fraying and strengthen your seam.


  1. Instead of a straight stitch, try a Zig Zag Stitch to help prevent fraying.


  1. Before sewing, spray edges with starch (such as Quilter’s Starch Savvy) and press with a hot, dry iron. This will help seal the edges long enough to sew the burlap and secure the edges.


  1. To cut burlap, first, remove a fabric strand where you want to cut. This will give you a straight and visible cutting line. The strands are strong making them easy to remove without breaking.

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  1. Clean your machine after sewing with burlap! There is a lot of dust and lint in burlap that ends up in your machine.

There are so many uses for burlap that a quick search on Pinterest will add several new projects to your list. I love it for table runners and garden container covers to get that farmhouse vibe. Burlap is great for machine embroidery also.


WeAllSew Projects that will Look Great with Burlap Fabric

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