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Burlap bags almost seem ancient, in these times of plastic, but believe it or not, they are still around. And, for the discerning eye with a taste for rustic, burlap is a wonderful material for DIY projects. It’s durable, biodegradable (made from a tropical plant called jute), and often free for the taking (Check out feed mills, farmers, coffee roasters, and grocery stores). If used bags aren’t available in your area, it’s also possible to order them online via eBay or in bulk at

After that, burlap bags are very easy to work with. They can be cut with scissors, and with a quick YouTube tutorial, unraveling can be prevented. It works well in the house and garden, and just a few bags can keep a crafter in projects for quite some time. There are plenty of easy projects for newbies, and there is no point in waiting any longer to get started with them.

Burlap Placemats

Burlap and wood look wonderful next to each other, so for those with lovely wooden kitchen table, making a quick set of burlaps placemats seems a worthwhile endeavor. And, it can’t get any simpler. Get a burlap sack, decide on how larger you’d like the placemats, use the special cutting technique shown in this video, and that’s that. All the same and while you’re at it, why not make some coasters for the coffee table?

Found Artwork/Bulletin Board

Coffee sacks, in particular, usually have cool designs that people like, especially coffee fans. It’s very easy to make them into attractive wall hangings. Place the burlap bag on a piece of cardboard, wrapping and taping the edges around the back so that the front, visible part is smooth and attractive. Either using scrap wood, perhaps from a disassembled pallet, or an old window, make a frame that fits around the bag. Hang as you would any other picture, or use it for a bulletin board.

Coffee Curtains

Some quick coffee curtains can be as easy as tacking an old coffee sack to the inside of the window frame then using a couple of lengths of twine or hemp string to bind them up. For those who are a bit more particular, the curtains can be made sturdier by using a dowel rod and supports, as if hanging a closet rod. Cut some tiny holes in the sack, and slip the rod through. For a weighted curtain, simply insert a second, slightly shorter rod into the sack.

Rustic Seat Covers

8434272762_b7b3365d73_zRusty Clark/Flickr


Getting a little more advanced, burlap makes for really cool seat covers or cushions, specifically for wooden furniture. This is done much the same as creating the artwork/bulletin board. This time the burlap is cut to size, and the cushion/board laid over the piece of burlap. Then, the outer edges are stretched over the cushion and the board resting on it, and the corners are folded around neatly and stapled to the underside. It’s really easy.

Hessian Planter

Burlap, also referred to as hessian, is biodegradable, which equates to having a lot of uses in the garden. One of the easiest things to do with burlaps bags is to make them into planters. This basically involves filling them up with a bit of potting soil and then doubling the remaining portion of the bag over the outside of the filled part. Because bags are often big, this works great for growing trees that can later, once they’re big enough, be planted—bag and all—in the yard (Just remembered to cut some slits in the bag before planting it).

Frost Protection

Sticking in the garden for a little longer, burlap sacks make great protectors for young plants, by covering tender seedlings over at nighttime to protect them from frost. This is as easy as making a stick frame to hold the old sack over the plants at night, keeping the cold nighttime moisture off of them, then taking it off during the day to allow the sun in. They can also be used to create screens for shade or wind breaks by attaching them to crude wood frame.

Handy Pouch

There are so many uses for a handy little pouch. It could be a pencil case, toiletry bag, a purse, bulk items from the supermarket, and may imaginations continue on. Burlap pouches are very easy to make. One way is cutting the fabric in a rectangle, folded it over, and sew the edges together with natural string. Add a drawstring to the top and form a crude sack for beans or other whatever items might work in something like that. (Handy pouches help reduce waste. Here are some more ways to shop cleaner.)

From here, the projects are destined to get more complicated and rewarding. Burlap has all sorts of crafty uses, so go find some and create create create!

Image source: Nik_svoboden/Shutterstock

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