Washing and Cutting Burlap

This post is sponsored by BurlapFabric.com. Check them Out, they are awesome! 
All photos, content, tutorials, techniques and opinions are my own.
I want to thank all of you for your sweet comments and emails, and for following my blog! 
It completely made my week!
I wanted to take some pictures of my home today to post, but we had a big storm roll in, so it will have to wait until next week. I tried to take these pictures in the brightest part of my house, but even these still turned out a little dark and muddy.
So, instead, today lets talk burlap! I have a couple posts coming up, of projects using burlap. But, first, I wanted to share how I prepare my burlap for use. It can be stinky and hard to work with, so I will share with you a couple of things that I do to make it more user-friendly.
First, I wash my burlap in the washing machine. I usually only do 2-3 yards at a time, so I am not sure how well it would work on a bigger volume. I use about half the regular amount of liquid detergent I would use in a normal load, and I add a splash of bleach to the bleach cup of my washer. I set my machine to the delicate cycle, warm water, and let it do its thing. If I am not happy with the smell, still, when it is finished, I will run it through once more. It will not get rid of the smell completely, but it will decrease it very significantly.
Then I pull it out and drape it over two chairs to dry.
{Update: I have done this with both the blonde (pictured) and the natural (light brown) burlap several times. The natural does get a little more fuzzy after washing than the blonde does. I just take it outside… shake, shake, shake it… and run a lint roller over it… and it works wonderfully! Not only does it take a lot of the smell away, it makes it a lot softer. Soooooo worth the extra effort! And, just to warn you, you’re about to see my scrub bottoms in these pictures}
There are many variables when using this technique {ie: different washing machines, different burlaps, etc.} and it may not work for everyone. This is just how I do it and it works so well for me! I have never had a problem. {Note I have a front loader washing machine, and I usually use Tide} Also, I would not recommend using this technique on the new printed/patterned burlaps or colored burlaps.
After it dries, I Iron my burlap to get all of the wrinkles out of it. Depending on your iron, the method you use here will vary from mine, but I will show you how I do it and you can adjust as you need to. I use a medium high setting. On my Iron, it says “Silk.” You want to make sure it is not on any of the automatic steam settings. I have learned from experience that too much of the water or steam will yellow your burlap and develop a weird film on your iron. Instead I just iron and do one squirt of the steam in one big motion over a large area of my fabric, following it up with a lot of steamless strokes.

Again, all irons are different, and you will have to play around with yours to determine which setting is right for you. 

After you are finished ironing your fabric, it is time to even out the ends which will have frayed somewhat in the washer.
Locate a spot where you would like to trim your fabric back to and make a tiny cut.
Then pull out one of the threads, slowly and carefully.
It should pull from the entire length of your piece.
This will leave a perfect little line to use as a guide for cutting.
Cut along its entire length, being careful not to cut the lines above and below it.
When you are finished, you are left with a perfectly straight edge!
Repeat on the other side and you are ready to start your burlap projects!
Easy, Right!
If you would like to see my DIY Pottery Barn Burlap Table Runner Tutorial, Click HERE. Trust me, it is gorgeous and super easy! 
You may also enjoy these burlap posts {just click on the picture to take you there}:
Pottery Barn Burlap Table Runner Tutorial
Pottery Barn Frame and Burlap Mat
On another note…
These pictures are pretty blurry and dark, but I wanted to share.
This is what happens when daddy is in charge of getting Ella dressed!
I don’t know if it is the fact that I dress her up all of the time or what, but it didn’t phase her a bit!
Funny Daddy.
I hope you all have a great weekend!
My Giveaway is open until Sunday night, so make sure you enter~!
Thanks again for reading!


    • Dorene says

      Thanks for the information. I am impressed. I have been looking for curtains (primitive) and I do believe with your tutorial I will be able to achieve the look I want and a lot less price than I thought of. Thanks again!!!!

  1. says

    Hi Kristen! Thanks for the tip on the burlap, I never thought to wash it, I’ll be waiting to see the projects that you did with the burlap:) Your little one is so adorable and seems to be a happy one!

  2. says

    Your little girl is so adorable! My daughter will be 25 next month and your pics took me right back to when she was that small. These are moments you will cherish forever. I love your blog to, I’m following here and on Facebook :)

  3. says

    This is a really fantastic tip. I washed burlap before myself, but it is never easy to cut without fraying all over. Your daughter is so stinkin cute! I love it when Dad’s are in charge LOL.

  4. says

    Such a great tip! I hate to work with burlap, just because of the smell, and all the tiny little fibers it leaves along, but maybe washing it will do the trick. As much as I hate to work with it though, I do love the projects out there, and there are so many. Thanks for sharing. Your daughter is so adorable.

  5. Anonymous says

    i enjoyed my visit.. but i think your baby is gorgeous..so precious.. i look forward to seeing more photos of her… and i look forward to looking at your decorating blog… thanks for the tutorial on burlap…wouldn’t have know how to do this, since i never saw or read on how to wash it until..

  6. says

    So thankful I found this post…I happen to have 3 yards of burlap on the desk next to me. I was just wishing it would be less smelly and a bit softer! I will now be washing it tomorrow. :]

  7. says

    Wowzers! Such good info!! I never would have come up with that cutting idea, but it totally wowed me!

    Pinned and I’m your newest follower! And, I’m just about to share your wedding part two on my FB page!

    Emily from 52mantels.com

  8. JC says

    I also read in one of my MANY magazines that you can use a big landromat machine an wash several times and add downy fabric softener and it works well and all the fuzz is not clogging your machine. And you can wash more at one time since they are bigger machines. Am going to try this soon!

    • says

      Hi Vicki! I like the blonde burlap from JoAnn Fabrics and the natural color (or any other color- they have a lot to choose from) from Hobby Lobby. However, today I saw that Hancock fabrics also has a great selection! Hope this helps!

  9. says

    Love your blog, your pics, your sense of humor and your gorgeous, Ella Claire!
    Am working with some burlap now and wish I knew these great tips prior to my start!
    I am pretty new to blogging and will be turning to you for inspirations and thank you for doing such a wonderful job…can’t wait to read more of your posts and congrats on being “FEATURED!”
    Wishing you con’t success and a lifetime of joy with your bundle!!!


  10. says

    Does anyone know if colored burlap can be washed? I would love to do an orange burlap Halloween rag wreath, but the salesperson at Joann informed me that their burlap is loaded with formaldehyde. Yuck!

  11. says

    I tried this as soon as I read this post and I am wondering if I did something wrong… I washed it on gentle but when I took it out the edges were all frayed and stringy and tangled together. Each edge unraveled about an inch.

  12. says

    I was so excited when I found your post, but this did NOT work for me. I followed your directions, delicate load, warm water, 1/2 the detergent and a splash of bleach. The only thing that I got was 3 yards of tangled mess in my washer! Where did I go wrong??

  13. says

    So awesome! Thanks for that. And Daddy days are pajama days at my house. I can usually bet that unless they’re going somewhere, she’ll be dressed in whatever I left her in when I get home (and she LOVES it). My husband says my daughter “prefers to be comfortable” when she’s with him 😀

  14. says

    thank you, i wish i’d seen your post before i cut some burlap; this is such handy information, and i’m going to try it. i bought a big bolt of burlap online really cheap, so i have a lot left! i also hope to try to paint some burlap, maybe a bunting, or wreath?
    thanks again for sharing,

  15. says

    I LOVE burlap, and have wanted to use it more, but was worried about how it would wash. Thank you so much! Featuring this on my blog on Thursday this week at createitgo.com

  16. says

    I made burlap curtains for my first apartment in 1969. I used the pulled thread method to make narrow open stripes,and pulled lots of thread at the ends for fringe. Then I did a little bit of macrame knotting in the fringe. Obviously I was not overly dedicated to my University classwork!

  17. says

    I have used white vinegar in the washing machine to take the smell out of musty vintage linens and this seems to work for me. Hanging items outside in the sunshine definitely works too….spraying with a lavender water and hanging outside….or for an alternative, I put it in my car/van draped along the seats and several days in there the smells are gone too. I live in the Southwest so we have lots of sun, but elsewhere using the car dashboard works because it intensifies the sun.

  18. says

    Have you ever tried painters drop cloth? You can get them at HOme Depot or Lowes. They wash up well and look a lot like burlap when washed!

  19. says

    So glad I found your blog! I recently made my first burlap wedding cake topper birds after a client requested them. It was pretty tricky fabric to sew with as it was stiff and frayed so I had to line the birds with wool felt. In the future I will be sure to wash it first :)
    Oh, your little girl is just adorable!!

  20. says

    Loved reading everyone’s comments and ideas, thanks!
    I love burlap too, but had initially read DO NOT WASH, but now i feel safer in doing so. I picked up mine @ ebay $29 for 10 yds postage paid, best deal I found. Want to get into stenciling and creating some unique OOAK items too.

    Pinned this page too! I’ll be back for follow-ups!
    yes, pretty baby!

  21. says

    Grateful for the pointers on the burlap; scrolling to the bottom I was taken aback by the darling baby with tights on her head!! :) I wish I could get my hands on a photo we have from 20 years ago of our Ella with hot pink tights on her head – really made me smile at the coincidence. Our Ella is 21 now (full name ‘Ariella’ being used at 21 – hmph) And it was Dad’s attempt at tights 20 years ago, too. Blessings!

  22. says

    Hi! Just wanted to let you know some things about burlap. I did this over twenty years ago, except that I washed and dried it (in the dryer—lots of lint) over and over again. It looked great UNTIL it started to discolor from the sun. Even lined, it turned a weird orange color. Also, I must warn you, it is EXTREMELY FLAMMABLE. My friend, a fire-fighter, had a FIT when he saw it.

  23. says

    J’habite dans le sud de la France, en Provence. Et j’aime beaucoup votre tuto pour la toile de jute. Ma toile de jute n’avait pas d’odeur avant le lavage, mais elle était très raide. Alors je l’ai laver et surprise l’odeur est arrivée.
    Maintenant, je suis pressée qu’elle soit sèche pour commencer à la coudre.
    Alors je vous remercie pour ces précieux renseignements.
    Vous avez une très jolie petite Princesse, la photo est très originale. Je vous fais un bisou de la France

  24. says

    I tried this method exactly as you wrote it and it ruined my burlap. :-( I know there are a lot of variables as to what could have happened. I just wanted to warn people if they were feeling gutsy (like I was…lol) that maybe another method might work better.

  25. says

    Hi Angela! Yes, there are definitely different variables when washing burlap. I have never had an issue with it, but I do limit mine to a couple yards at a time, use a front loader, etc (as I wrote above). There will always be a bit of fraying on the ends, but I just use the cutting technique to straighten out my edges and it works great.

  26. says

    Thanks for the tips. I purchased some burlap and I can’t stand the smell. I also tried to cut it and was frustrated that I couldn’t cute straight lines. I am so going to use your tips. Thanks again.

  27. says

    All of the burlap items i see for sale (including p.b.) are so much softer. I specially ordered 11oz. Burlap as it is a finer weave. I washed it yesterday. Put n dryer.not much softer. Should I just leave well enough alone now? Connie in phoenix.

  28. says

    Thanks for all the info I just picked up a nice peice of died burlap and put in the wash with my home made soap and 1/2 cup of white vinegar in the final rinse i added my purex fabric softner it smells and feels great but before I washed it I zig zaged around the entire peice with a large stitch my burlap did not fray at all and I am so happy with it thought I would share to help some of you. Once again thanks to all of you. I plan on making some bags with mine. will post at a later date we are moving so I can have a studio of my own. Lots of luck Debbie

  29. says

    And if you prep the fabric BEFORE washing, you’ll lose less yardage and not have to deal with all those strings. Just (1) serge, (2) multi-step zigzag or (3) fold once and straight-stitch each raw end.

  30. says

    Thank you very much for this tutorial. I want to make a load of door-holder-openers in memory of the floods we had in Germany last year, 2013, where we used millions of sandsacks to hold back the water. I am also thinking of making other things out of burlap, whick people might like to wash and would not like to have to tell them it doesn’t work. :-)

  31. says

    Wow, seems washing burlap is quite a subject for commenting. Your tips are great along with some other commentors left. When certain subjects are discussed it’s usually worth my time to read them, amazing what I’ve learned. Who say old dogs can’t learn new tricks (I’m 74). So glad to get all this free advice and tested from all you great young women.
    I washed some dark green burlap in washer last Fall, what a mess, lol. Still have it and just cut out some pieces here and there.
    Thankfully I learned how to cut burlap early on my blog reading career. Thank heavens as I made some long valances to go over some lighter semi sheer curtain panels last summer. I loved how it looked over the white fabric with blue window pane design. Looked very summery and soft. Didn’t wash that burlap but it didn’t seem to smell bad, maybe it depends on where stores buy their burlap as to whether it will smell bad.
    Formaldehyde? eeeeyywww No wonder I get terrible headache handling it. Love working with burlap tho, so many things I’ve made with it that I love.
    I have many vintage table cloths I bought from a reputable dealer and some I got at antique stores/shows. Karen sends them clean and ironed, tries to get any stains out if possible. She sells at lower prices cloths that she’s had for while that have stains or holes, at least she used to, haven’t bought any in ages. I’ve been using some of cloths I bought for ruffles or ends of some kind on table runner or on pillow covers. The vintage prints look so nice on the burlap. If anybody is interested I’ll get the name of her site. Have to look it up myself, since haven’t purchased any for long time, was too tempting. Just send email to this address: FurryKidzPaperworx@gmail.com
    After looking into your site I’ve got to subscribe, don’t want to miss any photos of that adorable baby and your posts. She is so sweet and happy looking, love tights on her head, priceless. They are so precious, why can’t they stay that way just little longer? Enjoy every minute with her you can, they grow up so quickly. I have 4 and they’re already in 50’s, last one is 44. Happy summer days what’s left of them.

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