Thursday, November 6, 2014

Burlap (Heissian)

What is Burlap

Hessian /ˈhɛsi.ən/, or burlap in the US and Canada, is a woven fabric usually made from skin of the jute plant or sisal fibers, or may be combined with other vegetable fibers to make fabric, ropes, nets and similar products.

Let’s just start with me saying “I LOVE BURLAP!” You’ve been warned. :o)

I discovered burlap a couple of years back, when I decided to try using rustic looking fabrics for my handmade designs. I ordered a small piece of burlap to try using it for my guest books and it was love from first sight.

I love everything natural. The burlap fabric is just that. Every roll I receive in my studio (yes, I order rolls of it) has a slightly different look, shade and texture. This makes every design I make look unique and different. The fabric is very sturdy and durable. It is eco-friendly and biodegradable.

What is burlap used for
Burlap is not a new fabric. It has been used for centuries for farming, goods transportation, gardening and as household storage bags. It became a better known in the last few years, due to its rustic look.

Nowadays, the burlap fabric is used for home decoration, wedding decoration, gift wrapping etc.

This is an inexpensive way of bringing the natural rustic look to your venue. It doesn’t require special care and is widely available at craft and fabric shops. There are also many online shops offering a rich selection in different burlap fabric finishes and widths.

Is all burlap the same
Before ordering burlap, you have to know what look you are after. The fabric comes in different weights – 5oz, 7oz, and 10oz. The fabric is usually measured in ounces per square yard.

Each one has a different look and thickness. The 5oz fabric is a see through fabric and much softer that the 7oz and the 10oz ones.


The 7oz and the 10oz are more solid. I personally prefer and use 10oz burlap fabric. It has a solid look and holds very well.

Always check the weight of the burlap fabric before ordering, especially if doing so online. Some stores don’t mention the weight of the listed fabric. If unsure, check with the seller before ordering. Many online shops offer samples. It’s worth the money seeing it before buying a large amount of it.

Once you receive the wrong type of fabric, it is very costly to return it, or exchange it. The fabric is heavy and the return shipping cost may cost you a fortune. In addition to that many fabric stores don't accept returns once the fabric has been cut.

Care for the Burlap Fabric
Burlap may seem like the roughest, toughest fabric that would never require any type of care. But to keep it looking good, whether it’s a burlap tote, pillow sham or religious shirt, you’ll want to know how to care for burlap. While burlap holds up well under normal conditions, it does not like to be left wet, be twisted or thrown in the wash with a million other items. You can care for burlap with some cold water and a few simple steps.

Things You'll Need
  • Burlap
  • Cold Water
  • Bucket or basin
Wet sponge it. If something happens to spill on burlap or for a quick fix to remove a chunk of dust or dirt, simply blot the burlap with a damp sponge. Do not rub it, but blot gently and then blot dry with a towel.

Things not to do to burlap
  • Do not put in the washer, or soak!
  • Never wring or twist burlap or its shape will get mangled.
  • Never place burlap in the dryer. That’s just asking for a mis-shaped item.
  • Do not place burlap to dry in direct sun. 

Choosing the Right Size Burlap Runner or Burlap Overlay for my Wedding
Choosing the right size runner or an overlay for your wedding tables is very important for the whole look of the venue. If they are too long, or too short it might give the impression as if you borrowed the decoration from a friend, or you cut corners when ordering the pieces to save money.

The first step of making the right choice is figuring out the size of the tables and their number.

The way to decide on the number of tables and their arrangement is to figure out the sitting. Here’s a good side that gives you information on standard sitting for different size tables:

Once you know how many tables you will have you can start working on the table decoration and the complete look for the venue.

Depending on the space and the density of the tables you might decide to have overlays, or runners for all tables. However, sometimes it might be better to mix runners and overlays for some of the tables. If you have too many tables with overlays, the burlap decoration might start looking too heavy for the space. If you have half the tables covered with burlap overlays and half with burlap runners, this will give the space more air and make the space look bigger.

Play around with the different ways of table covering. I would suggest finding tablecloths that you have at home and covering the tables with them, by folding them in different ways.

Once you figure out the size of the overlays or the runners look for a place where you can have them made. Many online shops offer custom made burlap pieces. You can contact me if you would like a free quote. I offer overlays and runners up to 72” in width. The length is up to you. ( Discount is available for larger orders.

Advice on deciding on the runners’ size.
If you would like to have runners that overlay and run down the side of the table, then you need to consider the length of the overlay when deciding on the size.

From experience runners that have an overlay of about 1.5ft look best. If the overlay is only 1ft, then it is not heavy enough to follow the tablecloth and leave a gap between itself and the tablecloth. If the overlaying part if longer than 1.5ft, then it looks like it was meant to be as long as the tablecloths, but wasn’t cut the right size. Finally, if you try to make the runner the exact length of the tablecloth be very careful. Usually, when you have 2 fabrics on top of each other, they tend to slide and inevitably one will move and the pieces will become misaligned.

Just as an example. If you have a 60”x60” table, you will need a burlap runner size 12”x96”. 12” is the standard size for runner width, but it is customizable if you need a different size. The length for this size runner is calculated at 96” (60”+18”+18”). You will have an overlay of 1.5ft (18”) at each end of the table.

Here’s the runner’s length sizing for the most common table sizes:

48" Table Length – 12” x 84” Runner
54" Table Length – 12” x 90” Runner
60" Table Length – 12” x 96” Runner
66" Table Length – 12” x 102” Runner
72" Table Length – 12” x 108” Runner
84" Table Length – 12” x 120” Runner
96” Table Length – 12” x 132” Runner

If you are crafty and have time, you might even try to make the pieces yourself. Just a warning, the fabric is not easy to cut, since it’s made from jute. You will need sharp scissors and strong hands.

One more thing to consider is the shedding. The fabric sheds when being cut. You need to have an open air large space where you can unroll and cut the fabric. Otherwise, your home will get dusted with fine shed that takes ages to remove (Learned that from experience!).