How to decorate burlap fabric

Written by hope semper
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How to decorate burlap fabric
Burlap lends itself to many decorating techniques. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

When you think of beautiful fabric, burlap may not come immediately to mind, but burlap can help bring beauty to a room precisely because it is not showy in itself. And burlap is easy to decorate. You can paint it, embroider it, weave it, dye it, or use any combination of decorating techniques for a stunning effect.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Burlap
  • Stiff-bristled artist's paintbrush
  • Fabric paint or acrylic paint
  • Sponge brush
  • Fabric dye
  • Large pot that can be used on the stove
  • Marker
  • Embroidery thread or yarn
  • Needle
  • Beads
  • Cuticle scissors
  • Ribbon

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  1. 1

    Paint a freehand design directly onto a piece of burlap using a stiff-bristled brush and fabric paint. Use a stencil to paint a design if you do not feel comfortable painting freehand.

  2. 2

    Tape the edges of the stencil to the piece of burlap to secure the design where you want it.

  3. 3

    Dab a light coat of paint onto the stencil cutout with a sponge brush.

  4. 4

    Layer stencil designs on top of each other, allowing the paint to dry between layers.


  1. 1

    Wash the piece of burlap before dyeing it, to remove any oils that might reject the dye.

  2. 2

    Dissolve fabric dye in a large pot of water. Follow the instructions on the dye packaging for the dilution ratio.

  3. 3

    Place the wet burlap in the pot of water and heat to a simmer. Stir according to the instructions on the dye packaging. The longer the burlap is stirred in the dye, the darker its colour will be.

  4. 4

    Rinse the burlap thoroughly.


  1. 1

    Sketch an embroidery design on the burlap with markers. Cross-stitched designs are the easiest to embroider on burlap.

  2. 2

    Use thick embroidery thread or yarn and a needle with a rounded tip. Stitch the thread or yarn through the tiny gaps in the burlap weave. String beads onto the embroidery thread if desired.

  3. 3

    Weave the end of the embroidery thread into the stitching on the reverse side of the burlap to finish off each section.

    Pulled Threads

  1. 1

    Create a pattern in the burlap by removing threads. Pull out threads around the edge of the burlap to create fringe.

  2. 2

    Pull out burlap threads anywhere on the piece of fabric in either a horizontal or vertical pattern. Pull out at least three threads in a row to make a gap visible. The more threads you pull out, the more dramatic the design. Snip threads with cuticle scissors if you want to create a pattern that does not go all the way to the edge of the fabric.

  3. 3

    Stitch embroidery thread around the pulled-out sections for additional decoration, or weave ribbons through the open spaces for a striking effect.

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