Fabric Dictionary: What is Burlap Fabric?

Fabric Dictionary: What is Burlap Fabric?

Burlap fabric is durable, breathable, & has many everyday uses like shipping, gardening, or home decor. Read this blog, "What Is Burlap Fabric," to learn more.
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Burlap is a coarse textured, natural fabric with many gardening and landscaping applications. As long as you know a few tips and tricks, burlap fabric is easy to work with. Read this blog post to learn about burlap, some uses for the fabric, and a few answers to the most frequently asked questions about it.

What Is Burlap Fabric Made Of?

Burlap, or hessian, is a durable, coarsely textured, and breathable fabric. Woven in a loose, plain weave style, burlap is manufactured with sustainably grown jute fibers, or sometimes sisal, flax, and hemp fibers. The open weave structure found on the face of burlap fabric allows for maximum breathability, while maintaining durability and tensile strength. Additionally, burlap fabric is easily dyed and can be treated to resist rotting. Don’t worry about waste, burlap is a natural fabric that when untreated and buried, starts to decompose in approximately 2 months. With so many unique properties, let’s discuss some of the uses for burlap fabric while gardening and landscaping.

What Is Burlap Fabric Used For?

Burlap can be see-through and has a rough texture, but the fabric can be used to make modest clothing and stylish decors. It is common to see burlap fabric being used as dresses, children’s clothes, throw pillows, furniture upholstery, table covers, and much more.

Burlap fabric plays an important role in the shipping industry. Breathable and durable, burlap is used to transport and hold items that require fresh air, like fruits or vegetables.

Affordable, biodegradable (unless treated), and breathable, burlap fabric is essential for the protection of plants, shrubs, and trees. Use burlap to stop weed and invasive plant seeds from germinating and spreading on soil. Also, burlap fabric can contain the soil, and protect the roots of a shrub or tree during its’ transportation. Furthermore, burlap fabric is great for crafting outdoor shades to protect plants against winter burn, and harsh summer sunlight.

How To Waterproof Burlap Fabric?

Here are a few ways to waterproof and treat burlap fabric:

  • Waxes: Waxes like beeswax or paraffin wax can be used to coat burlap and make the fabric waterproof. Beeswax is a natural wax sourced from bees, while paraffin wax is a byproduct of petroleum production. To make burlap waterproof with wax, just melt the wax into a liquid and generously coat the fabric with wax. Be sure to allow the coated fabric time to dry. You may have to repeat the process and apply several coats of wax.
  • Oils: Oils like soybean oil or linseed oil can be used to make burlap waterproof. It is important to note that some oils can be flammable and require other chemicals for the oil to be used. Using oil to make burlap waterproof is an easier, natural method for waterproofing than applying wax because it only requires the fabric to be soaked or sprayed in the oil, then dried.
  • Chemicals: Using chemicals, like sprays or liquids to waterproof burlap is the easiest way to waterproof fabric. Applying chemical waterproofing is as easy as soaking or spraying the chemical onto the burlap fabric and allowing it to dry. While easy, this method requires the use of potentially toxic chemicals. It is possible to create your own, safe chemical solution using alum powder, but it is more time intensive.

While waterproofing burlap is possible, it is only a short term solution as it will wear off over time. As of recently, synthetic burlap and landscaping fabrics are being manufactured to resist mold and be waterproof. Instead of taking time and spending money to waterproof burlap, try buying waterproof burlap fabric.

Where To Buy Burlap Fabric?

Burlap fabric is quite popular and as a result easy to find. Burlap can be purchased both at fabric and at arts and crafts stores. Additionally, since the fabric has so many industrial uses, burlap fabric can be bought at home improvement stores and plant nurseries. Furthermore, check out Fabric Wholesale Direct’s supply of burlap fabrics, for burlap fabric sold by the yard at wholesale prices.


Made primarily from jute fibers, burlap is a coarsely textured fabric that is extremely durable. A versatile fabric with many characteristics, burlap fabric can be used in a variety of everyday applications like shipping, apparel, and gardening. Traditionally burlap was not a waterproof fabric, but today it is easy to waterproof burlap yourself, or even purchase synthetically made waterproof burlap. Now that you know, try using burlap fabric on your next sewing project.

1 comment

Pamela collins

Pamela collins

I would like to make custom
Kitchen curtains

I would like to make custom
Kitchen curtains

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