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Tips for Cutting and Sewing Burlap

Guest Author - Tamara Bostwick

  • When cutting out pattern pieces, add an extra inch to the seam allowance to increase the distance between the seam and the raw edge.
  • The fraying issue is caused by the loose weave of burlap. For projects that require more durability, look for burlap made with a tighter weave. It will hold together better.
  • Instead of cutting out individual pieces and then sewing them, trace the seam lines onto a larger piece of burlap, sew the pieces together and trim away the excess seam allowance. This is especially helpful when sewing patterns with curved edges.
  • When cutting, don’t use your best fabric scissors…the fiber and coarseness of the burlap will dull them. You can use a rotary cutter, but the cutter blades will need to be replaced more frequently. You can also use heavy-duty scissors to make cutting easier.
  • To cut a straight line (or to straighten an edge), make a short snip on the side of the fabric *next* to the edge you are trying to straighten (for example, if you want to make the top edge straight, snip one of the side edges). Find the thread that is closest to the cut that you just made and tug on it until it comes all the way out. This will leave a visible space that is easy to follow when cutting and it will be perfectly on grain.
  • When stitching seams in burlap, use a narrow zigzag or over-cast stitch. These types of stitches will be more secure than a straight stitch because they cover different directions and trap more of the fibers in the stitch. Stitching a double seam will also strengthen the seam.
  • There are several ways to attractively finish the edges of burlap pieces. A zig-zag stitch or overlocking with a serger will cover the edges and reduce the amount of fraying that occurs.
  • You can also use this fraying feature to make a decorative edge by deliberately pulling threads away from the edges to leave a fringe. Remember to allow extra fabric at the edge for this process. Before fringing the edges, mark where you would like the fraying to stop, and stitch along this line with a very narrow zig zag stitch. This will prevent too many threads from coming away from the edge.
  • Burlap sheds small hair-like fibers when being handled. These can build up in the sewing machine and serger, so it is important to clean them frequently as you are working. Be sure to pull the bobbin casing out and dust it as well.
  • Remember to change the sewing machine needle after working with burlap, because as it dulls blades, so does it dull needle tips.

Happy Burlap Sewing!

Having a hard time finding burlap? Here are some options for purchasing it online

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Content copyright © 2014 by Tamara Bostwick. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Tamara Bostwick. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.


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