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Burlap 101

The buzzword that has been trending for the last few years around the wedding and event scene is “Rustic”. If you’re an event planner, researching for wedding or party themes, chances are you have run into this style of decorating. A staple for this look is utilizing Burlap, a rough and grungy material that is perfect complement to any rustic themed event.

But what is Burlap?
Burlap is fabric, generally made with the fiber of the jute plant. The fiber of the jute is generally very coarse and uneven, however is very strong and 100% natural. This also makes it a great choice for environmentally conscious individuals because jute is completely biodegradable. When this material is loosely woven together, we get our familiar burlap fabric!

Are there different types of Burlap?
The standard type of burlap is natural colored, coarse and uneven, which is probably the type of burlap that most people are familiar with. Some burlap may be made of other material like hemp, flax or ramie. Sometimes the jute material may also be mixed with different types of fibers (like cotton or polyester) for a softer finish. Burlap Fabric may also be dyed.

What is the best way to cut Burlap?
We often hear of issues with burlap material getting all over the place when it is cut. Because of how loosely the threads are woven, it’s easy for the fabric to fray and for more threads to fall out where you cut. A simple remedy to this issue is to cut between the weaves for minimal fraying. You can create a simple guide by pulling out a thread single thread where you want to cut, as illustrated below:

 

This method only works if you are cutting straight through the fabric. It will reduce excessive fraying, and will make the fabric easier to handle.

Cleaning Burlap
We generally would not recommend washing burlap material. Harsh chemicals and cleaning agents might damage the natural property of the fabric, and washing machines and harsh agitation might warp of skew the fabric because of it’s loose weave. Upon receiving a new burlap product, some people notice that it emits an earthy odor. This is not a defect, but the natural odor of the jute that the burlap is made with. To remove the odor, ensure you have some empty space outdoors and hang your burlap to air out for a couple days. This will remove most of the odor. For actually washing the material, it’s best to spot wash the fabric. Dampen the area you would want to clean, and wipe or dab gently with a mixture of water and vinegar (or mild detergent). Try not to agitate the fibers too much as this would cause it to fray.

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