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How to Cut Burlap (The Right Way!)

A couple weeks back, I went to Joann’s to purchase burlap for my burlap walls project. When I took the fabric to the cut counter, the JoAnn’s employee measured it out, and then started doing something fancy with one of strings instead of just cutting the fabric.

Naturally, I asked questions. Lots of questions. Turns out, there is a right way and a wrong way to cut burlap.

To cut burlap correctly, grab a thread of the burlap right where you want to cut. Pull the thread out of the burlap, then cut the burlap along the empty space where the thread once was. This helps prevent the burlap from unraveling.

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Why Burlap is Cut Differently

If you try to cut burlap like you cut normal fabric, it ends up something like this:

There are a few loose ends here, but since this is such a small piece it’s not so bad. Imagine this on a larger piece of burlap, with a bunch of loose ends along the cut.

All those loose ends unravel really easily, leaving you with a piece of burlap that may or may not have been the size you needed.

So instead, it’s best to cut along one single thread. That way, you don’t end up with a bunch of unraveling ends. This is easy to do, if you know the method below!

The Right Way to Cut Burlap

Step 1: Measure Your Fabric

Measure out the distance you want your burlap to be, and pick out a string of burlap at that point.

I had no idea there was a secret to cutting burlap until I talked to the cut counter lady... #Burlap

For example, in the above picture, if I wanted my burlap to be 13 inches long, I’d probably pick the thread I circled in pink.

I try to pick a thick thread, since sometimes the thread breaks in the next few steps, and a thicker thread seems more sturdy. Seems being the key word here: sometimes a thick thread gets thinner, and isn’t as sturdy as I thought.

Step 2: Pull Thread

Pull the thread you selected, and only the thread you selected. The fabric should bunch up.

I had no idea there was a secret to cutting burlap until I talked to the cut counter lady... #Burlap
I had no idea there was a secret to cutting burlap until I talked to the cut counter lady... #Burlap
Step 3: Completely Remove Thread

Keep pulling the thread until you have completely removed it from the burlap. Sometimes it breaks before you’ve completely removed it; that’s okay, just find where it ripped and keep pulling.

Once you’ve removed the thread, your burlap have a really obvious missing piece. It looks like this:

I had no idea there was a secret to cutting burlap until I talked to the cut counter lady... #Burlap
Step 4: Cut Burlap Along Empty Thread Path

Cut the burlap along the path the thread left behind. You might be worried this won’t result in a straight piece, but I promise it does! It’s actually a nice hack for ensuring you cut the burlap straight.

I had no idea there was a secret to cutting burlap until I talked to the cut counter lady... #Burlap

Then enjoy the nice, neat burlap piece that you just cut!

Other Ways to Keep Burlap From Unraveling

This method of cutting burlap is great for making sure your cut isn’t the reason your burlap unraveled. But burlap has a tendency to unravel anyway, so there are a few other things you can do to keep it in one piece.

Obviously this is going to involve treating the ends in some form, since that’s where the unraveling occurs!

Mod Podge

The first method, and my favorite method (because it doesn’t involve breaking out the sewing machine,) is using mod podge to secure the ends.

To do this, simply paint mod podge onto the edges of the burlap, and allow it to dry. This does two things: it stiffens the burlap so it’s less likely to move around and unravel, and it lightly glues the different pieces together.

As a result, mod podge is an invisible way to keep your burlap from unraveling. It does change the texture a bit, so it can be felt by your fingertips, but it’s invisible otherwise.

Sewing the Edges

While I have a sewing machine, and theoretically I know how to use a sewing machine, I don’t really love breaking out the sewing machine. Something always seems to turn my 5 minute project into a 1-hour project.

Regardless, sewing the edges of the burlap is another way to prevent it from unraveling. Some burlap comes with two of the edges already sewn for you! But obviously, wherever you cut the burlap you’re going to need to sew yourself.

Use small zigzag stitches for best results, as that will catch the most threads. To be entirely transparent, I’ve never actually done this (mod podge method for the win,) but it I expect it to work well.

Can you tell I really prefer the mod podge method?

Using Up Scrap Burlap

I’m going to go out on a limb here, and guess you’ve already got a project in mind for your burlap since you landed on a page about cutting it.

But projects always result in scrap, and scrap burlap is more handy than you might think!

First off, if you have any long pieces, keep them to use as ribbons. Burlap ribbon is a thing, and is significantly more expensive than regular burlap. If you’re worried about the edges unraveling, you can use the mod podge method I described above.

And burlap strips really do work well as ribbon. Check out the bow on this wreath! I thought about forking out $5+ for burlap ribbon, but then decided to try using some scrap burlap I had around first, and it was just as good!

If you’ve got any pieces that are at least 12″ wide, burlap is a great thing to use to decorate cabinets during the holidays. You can check out what I did to my cabinets here; I think it would look even better if I had white cabinets instead of oak!

Finally, if you have a Cricut, they can cut small pieces of burlap into cute shapes that you can use in crafts and projects. I don’t have a Cricut, but I think it’d be a fun way to use up even the smallest scraps!

Final Thoughts

What are you making with your burlap? I just cut tons of it to use as wallpaper in my living room (see the reveal,) but there are so many uses for this stuff, it’s crazy! I’d love to hear what you’re making; let me know in the comments below.

And if you found this post useful, go ahead and save it to Pinterest so other people can find it too!

I had no idea there was a secret to cutting burlap until I talked to the cut counter lady... #Burlap