A "Clever" Burlap applique shirt for Under 8’s Day

Here’s a Burlap sewing project for all you Mums out there. Last week was the annual ‘Under 8’s Day’ at my son’s school. The request came home from school that children wear a shirt decorated with one of the following words: Sporty, Dream, Happy, Fun, Clever, Special or a similar word of their choice.

After much deliberation my son choose clever, despite my trying to convince him that dream would be nice – with a nice cloud (a la easy for mummy to sew). But alas ‘Clever’ it was. So we discussed what makes someone ‘Clever’ and my 6 old thought that he is clever because he knows that 10 + 20 = 30. Can’t argue with that!

So we found a plain black shirt in the wardrobe and set about designing the shirt. Always keen to incorporate Burlap into a project I suggested the following design and it was agreed. He went off to bed and Mummy was left with the challenge of bringing his creation to life by morning.

So here’s what I did, in case you too need a shirt for a ‘Clever’ child!


Burlap square 40cm x 40cm
30cm diameter embroidery hoop
3 large buttons
sewing machine and thread


I used a free motion embroidery technique to embroider the numbers and word onto the Burlap. So to keep the fabrics steady whilst I sewed I laid the Burlap square on top of the t-shirt (I used two layers of Burlap as mine was quite loose weave), and then secured all three layers in the embroidery hoop (two layers of Burlap and only the top layer of the t-shirt).

I used a water soluble fabric marker to write on the burlap 10 + 20 = 30 and the word Clever (see the light blue pen marks below).

I choose to use a dark thread to make the embroidery stand out. I then (with a bit of manoeuvring) put the embroidery hoop under the presser foot and put in place to sew (make sure at this point you only have the front of the shirt under the needle and move the back of the t-shirt out of the way so you don’t sew it to the front of the shirt whilst embroidering).

Free motion embroidery is when you physically move the fabric under the needle to achieve the desired pattern on your fabric. To do this you need a free motion foot for your machine (it looks a bit like a pogo stick and works in a similar way releasing presser of the fabric momentarily to allow you to move it). Next you drop the feed dogs on the machine (the little grip things under the fabric that move the fabric for you when you sew normally), set your stitch width to 0 and your stitch length to 0. Then just start sewing and move the fabric slowly but steadily to create the effect you want. If you haven’t tried this technique before I recommend practising on the some scrap fabric first so you can get a hang of how to move the fabric. You may also find you need to adjust the tension if the stitches are bunching up.

I started by creating the circle around the outside to hold the burlap in place. I just moved around the inside of the hoop as close as possible to the hoop stitching back and forth over each part of the circle two or three times to get a thicker line. I then went about stitching the numbers, plus and equal sign and the word Clever in the same way. Making sure to trace over each area two or three times to make the line thicker. Then trim any loose threads.

I then stitched on the buttons in place of the zeros. Then I carefully trimmed around the outside of the embroidery hoop about 1 cm from the hoop to create the circle out of burlap. Be careful not to cut the t-shirt when doing this.

I then removed the embroidery hoop and then created the frayed edge. I did this by gently pulling on the strands of burlap running parallel to the circle stitching. You may have to cut some as they will run parallel for a bit and then as the circle curves they may then run under the stitching line.

I then gave a quick trim to any rogue strands to ensure there was even lengths of frayed edges around the whole circle. And voila your done.

My son was very pleased with the result when he saw it the morning, and proudly explained to everyone at school how he was clever because he knew 10 + 20 = 30.

So if you find yourself in a similar situation, needing to decorate shirt for school, consider burlap as it is cheap and effective. I just love the finished look of this shirt, I think it has a lot of character – similar to the wearer!

How to: Baby Shower Favour, Burlap wrapped Candle

As promised here’s the ‘How to’ for the Burlap Wrapped Candle I used as a baby Shower Favour for my son’s Baby Shower.

I knew I was having a Boy, but if you didn’t know whether it was a boy or girl you could just use white or yellow or green ribbon instead. And of course, if you know your having a girl then use Pink ribbon.

For the full how to press read more bellow or view our youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfhIR_oybFU

You will need:

Candles (I bought mine from the dollar store for $3 each)
Ribbon (enough to go round each candle, I used 1/2 inch wide ribbon)
Burlap (again enough to go round each candle)
Dress Pin
Diaper Pin

1. Measure the circumference of your candle and add 1 inch to the measurement.

2. Cut your ribbon to the final length as calculated in step 1.

3. Cut your Burlap into a strip same length as calculated in step 1, and wide enough to show on each side of your ribbon. So in my case I cut mine 1 inch wide, which allowed it to show half an inch on each side of my 1/2 inch wide ribbon.

4. Lay the ribbon on top of the Burlap and wrap it around the centre of the candle.

5. When you get back to where you started, Fold the ribbon and Burlap under 1/2 inch to neaten the edge and lay it down to overlap the start point.

6. Slowly push in the pin to secure in place. If you candle is thin, push the pin in on an angle to ensure it doesn’t poke out the other side.

7. On the opposite side to your dress pin, attach the diaper pin to the ribbon. And trim any loose Burlap threads.

Voila! The perfect ‘Make your Own’ baby shower favour for under $3.50 each. Budget friendly and beautiful.

My guests decided they would all light theirs the day he arrived to celebrate his arrival into the world – which was a lovely idea that all these candles would be burning at the same time to celebrate Harry’s arrival!

If you would like to watch a video with Step by Step Instructions on how to create your own Burlap Wrapped Candle click on this link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfhIR_oybFU

You’ve gotta love Burlap!

Burlap vs Hessian vs Jute – What’s the difference?

When I first started working with Burlap (or Hessian as we call it here in Australia), I was bombarded and confused by terms such as Hessian, Burlap and Jute. They seemed to be used interchangably, but I wasn’t sure what the exact difference was. So I went to a reliable source in our digital world – Wikipedia.Wikipedia.com defines Hessian as follows: 


(play /ˈhɛsi.ən/), or burlap in the US, is a woven fabric usually made from skin of the jute plant or sisal fibres, or may be combined with other vegetable fibres to make rope, nets, and similar products. Gunny cloth is similar.

Hessian, a dense woven fabric, has been historically produced as a coarse fabric, but more recently it is being used in a refined state known simply as jute as an ecofriendly material for bags, rugs, and other products.

The name “burlap” appears to be of unknown origin. The name “hessian” is attributed to the use of the fabric, initially, as part of the uniform of soldiers from the German state of Hessen who were called “Hessians.”

So it turns out they are all interchangable. I will refer to it as Burlap in this Blog, however if you come across jute or hessian cloth, rest assured it will be perfect or any of these projects.

Crazy about Burlap

Whether you call it Burlap or Hessian, you can’ t find a more useful and versatile fabric. Burlap has an earthy and rustic quality to it that adds a special charm to any project.

And the best part about Burlap is it is often free! No more outlay at the fabric store for some fancy cotton print, just a visit to your local farmer or food producer should yield an abundance of cloth to keep even the keenest sewer or crafter busy for ages. And what’s more, by utilising this by-product of the food industry you are actually helping the environment by recycling an otherwise often discarded product.

Burlap Wrapped Candles for decoration at food buffet and then also functioned as a lovely Shower Favour !

In this blog we will explore the many and varied uses for Burlap for sewers and crafters everywhere. I will share with free sewing patterns and free craft project instructions for sewing and crafting with Burlap. And in time maybe, you too will become as crazy about Burlap as I am.

So to begin I think about the most recent occasion I used Burlap for a craft project. I had a Baby Shower, for my now 4 week old son, Harry. Along with preparing lots of scrumptious food for my guests to indulge in, I wanted a small favour for them to take home with them as a thank you and also to celebrate the new life coming into the world. So I came up with these charming burlap wrapped candles, that looked charming decorating the food buffet but then also functioned as a lovely Shower Favour. I’ll post full step by step instructions on how to make these Burlap candle favours tomorrow.