Feb 03

Hand stitch on burlap? I’ll give it a shot.

Sometimes experiments sneak up on you when you least expect it. 

You see, I hadn’t really hopped on board the whole burlap craze. It seemed overpriced and just not my style. But after making a burlap wreath, I have warmed up to it. Then a week or so ago, I was in the craft store returning something, and a roll of burlap caught my eye unexpectedly. I have seen burlap there a gazillion times, but it always said “expensive potato sack” to me. That day it said something else. It said, “Hand stitch on me.”

Learn two ways to hand stitch on burlap at theexperimentalhome.com

Now, as you may recall, I am not one to deny the wishes of inanimate objects, so the roll of burlap came home with me, and an experiment was born. 

I had bought a ten inch roll of burlap which just fit onto a ten inch embroidery hoop I had on hand. Given the tight fit, it was a little tricky to get in, but once I did, the burlap fibers stayed in place pretty well. I might suggest adding a little glue to any raw edges to keep the burlap from totally fraying.

I chose some red worsted weight yarn and a yarn needle to start experimenting since the burlap that called to me had a pretty loose weave, but I could see using embroidery thread for a tighter burlap.

Since the grid reminded me of needlepoint canvas (or plastic canvas), I started with a basic needlepoint half-cross stitch, where you go from one square to the next diagonally covering the intersections of the burlap fibers (see pictures below). You will know you are doing it right if you see vertical stitches on the back, however, if it looks right on the front and you get some other pattern on the back, don’t worry to much (I didn’t!). This stitch type (which is the extent of my needlepoint knowledge) is great for filling in shapes, and it worked beautifully on burlap. 

Next I tried a basic embroidery stitch, the back stitch (see my tutorial here and pictures below) to make a simple line. I stitched from hole to adjacent hole and found that I could move up and down, right and left or diagonally, outlining any shape I liked.

Learn two ways to hand stitch on burlap at theexperimentalhome.com

Since Valentine’s day is coming up, I made some little hearts while experimenting with these stitches.

Learn two ways to hand stitch on burlap at theexperimentalhome.com

I think they turned out absolutely adorable. In fact, I am so smitten, I will be using them in a project later this week. But for today, I made you a quick graphical pattern for these hearts so you can stitch your own hearts on burlap.

Free pattern for hand stitched hearts on burlap. Learn how at theexperimentalhome.com

As I am writing this, I have this feeling of crafting coming full circle. I would be willing bet that many women in our grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s generations learned to hand stitch on burlap (or potato sacks) because it was all that was available, and here I am using burlap because it’s rustic look is “in” and writing about it like I totally made it up. Not to mention that the burlap I bought cost enough money (on sale) to make most of them roll over in their graves. The thought is more than humbling.

Learn two ways to hand stitch on burlap at theexperimentalhome.com

By the way, if you are here hoping for the Monday Mess Movement, don’t despair, it will be back soon. Keeping up with a guest post a week has proved a little tricky organizationally. I think I may need to make some changes to MMM, but it is here to stay. 

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  1. Mandy @ Sugar Bee Crafts

    Thanks for linking to Take-A-Look Tuesday over at Sugar Bee Crafts – you were featured today!!
    –Mandy, SugarBeeCrafts.com

    1. Laura

      Thanks for the feature, Mandy. You rock.

  2. Julie

    I love your experimental stitching, and your lovely clear instructions. Just as nice as looking at someone’s mess! Can’t wait to see what you are making.

    1. Laura

      Thanks Julie… sorry to disappoint with something pretty instead of a mess. But the mess will be back. 🙂

  3. Ginnie

    I was just in Michaels today and was wondering to do with their burlap – great timing!! I definitely need to pick some up and try this now:)

    1. Laura

      Give stitching on burlap a try, Ginnie, you will love it.

  4. Terri

    Such a clever idea. The possibilities of using this in projects are endless. Thanks, I think 🙂

    1. Laura

      Yeah, Terri, the possibilities are endless. I agree, this banner is frightenly easy to make, and you could adapt it to any occasion. I was actually thinking about painting on one. Whoops, did I just open a new can of worms for you? Sorry. Have a great day!

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