All About Burlap Fabric
Burlap is a woven cloth created from jute, flax or hemp fibers. These plants are known for their course textures, so the result is a coarse fabric with a large weave pattern and natural beige coloring. Burlap is often used to form storage bags for potatoes, grains and other bulky materials. These burlap bags are commonly called gunny sacs and can be imprinted with rudimentary trademarks or logos to help identify their contents. The actual meaning of the word burlap is a bit of a mystery, but some sources refer to it as Hessian cloth.
Burlap is also used in the formation of linoleum floor covering. Much like steel rebar in concrete, burlap reinforces the linoleum and gives it some linear structure. A form of burlap may also be found in the underside of carpeting, providing a base for the individual fibers. Some designers may also use burlap panels as wall coverings, since they can hold paint and have distinctive textures. Burlap has can be used for similar purposes as denim.
Burlap tote bags often replace paper or plastic as an ecological choice for grocery packing. Burlap is also biodegradable, which means all of those potato and apple sacks should eventually disintegrate without harm to the environment.
Because of its rough texture, burlap is better suited to decorative throw rugs, table cloths, or bags instead of for clothing. It also tends to hold dust and is somewhat difficult to clean. Burlap has a tendency to shrink significantly when it is laundered.
In rustic settings such as mountain cabins or farm houses burlaps highly textured surface coordinates well with natural materials and country-style furniture. You can always add an exotic touch to a den, rec or family room by using burlap coffee sacks bearing their original stencil marks. Burlap curtains can make an interesting and unusual window treatment. Their rustic and rough-spun look will complement a variety of informal settings, from recreation rooms to college dorms. Burlap looks best among other natural fibers and textures, but can also provide an interesting contrast when coordinated with smooth, modern designs and surfaces.
Burlap's pluses include its relatively low cost and ability to provide filtered light. Coarsely woven burlap allows some light to pass through it, making burlap curtains a good choice when they do not need to block all exterior light while providing privacy. Since burlap is usually made with natural hemp or jute fibers produced with little or no pesticides, it is an eco-friendly window-covering option. Extremely durable burlap will last indefinitely and is resistant to tears. Burlap is also extremely economical, making it a good choice when decorating on a strict budget. Due to its lack of drape, burlap will be more attractive when used to cover smaller windows rather than in floor-to-ceiling treatments. As a natural fiber, burlap can be readily dyed in a wide range of shades. While burlap is known for its ruggedness, burlap curtains can become brittle and stretched out over time. Some burlap specifically produced for decorating purposes is treated to minimize brittleness, fiber shedding, and sagging. Due to its earthy odor, burlap fabrics are also sometimes given a deodorization treatment.
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