{jute} burlap substitute

Jute burlap.

It’s natural, beautiful, and rustic laundry.

But, despite all of it’s lovely qualities, it has a dark side…

…an itchy, scratchy, shedding, and sometimes horribly smelly dark side.

{Hives just appeared while writing that.}

Questions about burlap trickle through here from time to time.

“What are your thoughts are on using burlap for pillows and seat cushions?”

“How do you wash it?”

“Will it ruin my sewing machine?”

“How do you keep it from shedding?”

Truth is, as lovely as it looks, I mostly stick to using it for crafts,
like polka dot burlap bags and rustic honey bee favors.

Until now.

freckled laundry linen burlap substitute
While meandering through the embroidery aisle of a fabric & craft store,
I happened upon a package of “linen burlap”,
which is ordinarily used as the backing for rug hooking.
freckled laundry linen burlap

It’s a game changer.

freckled laundry linen burlap substitute  alternative

Linen burlap is 100% raw linen, woven like burlap.

It’s a utility workhorse like jute burlap
and has the aesthetic that I LOVE,
without the itchy, scratchy, shedding, and smelly properties that I don’t.

Simply put,
you don’t have to worry about a potential case of furry butt
when you stand up from sitting on a cushion slipped with linen burlap.

I am hardly a burlap guru and I’m sure there are some higher quality jute burlaps out there,
but I’m mostly referring to the inexpensive, standard burlap available at a big chain fabric store,
in the isle you can find simply by following the scent of gasoline.
{That’s what it smells like to me, anyway!}

The downside is that linen burlap is a bit more expensive than jute burlap.
(I paid around $7 for a 30 x 36 piece with a 50% off coupon.)

Anyhow, it’s one of my new favorite laundries
and I couldn’t wait to share it with those of you on the fence about
working with or living in burlap surroundings!

Here are some comparison shots…

Linen burlap is still in the brown family, but it’s just a touch grayer.
Definitely natural looking.
freckled laundry linen burlap substitute

It’s woven a bit tighter than jute burlap,
which keeps it from fraying all over the place.
You can cut nice, clean edges.

jute burlap weave…
freckled laundry burlap substitute alternative

linen burlap weave…
freckled laundry burlap substitute alternative

Linen burlap is quite a bit smoother as well.
I tried to capture it’s lack of furry fibers in this photo, but that was a failed attempt!…

freckled laundry burlap substitute alternative

While linen burlap has a soft and smooth hand,
the jute burlap is more able to be draped.
(I want to say “drapier”, but it isn’t a real word!)
I’m not sure linen burlap would be the best choice for flowing curtains.
It’s just a lil’ bit stiffer.

freckled laundry burlap substitute alternative


freckled laundry burlap substitute alternative

I have no hesitations about running linen burlap through my sewing machine either.
In fact, it sews like a dream and no mess.
freckled laundry burlap substitute alternative

Love it.

Given the price point, I’ll still use regular jute burlap for crafts and party decor.

I’d use the linen burlap for things that would regularly be touched and sat on in a home,
like pillows, bench covers, seat covers, ottoman slips, etc.,
or if I were selling or working on a higher quality piece for a client
when shedding, sensitivities, and possible odor are concerns.

I haven’t tried washing the linen burlap yet,
but it certainly seems like it would hold up much better in the machine.
I don’t think you’d have to stuff it inside a pillow case first to avoid a mess.
I’ll wash it soon and let you know!
(Hmmm…It might soften it even more for draping.)

If you’ve used linen burlap (or washed it), let me know!

I hope that helps those of you who love the look of burlap like I do,
but have maybe hesitated to sew with it or use it in your home!

Have a lovely weekend,

The cheapest I found the same linen burlap after a quick look online is at JoAnn and K-Mart.
Linen burlap is available by the YARD at onlinefabricstore.net in a bunch of colors
with $1.00 samples.
A little white is on its way.
I hope it’s a true, bright white!
burlap substitute, burlap alternative, high quality burlap, burlap for sensitive

Also, while we’re on the subject of burlap,
have you ‘met’ Becky at Buckets of Burlap?
As her blog name suggests, she has the 4-1-1 on burlap
and her style is amazing.



  1. Robin says:

    Thanks for this post. I have a severe allergy to burlap… newly discovered after purchasing about 15 yards for tablerunners and crafting for a Ladies’ church retreat. I can’t see the pictures in the post, but I’ll check out the stores. I’d like to have some to line some metal baskets which came with burlaps liners that I had to throw away.

    • Jami says:

      Oh no! That’s not a good way to find out you’re severely allergic. Well, I suppose there is no good way. I hope the linen burlap will work for you. I’m sorry that you can’t see the pics. I have no idea why not. :( If you check back in a little bit, it might *hopefully* be a temporary glitch. Are you by chance viewing from a smart phone? It might be the Pin It feature on my photos…hmmmm. Thank you for letting me know!

  2. I love burlap and this is fabulous! Thank you for the tips and I will be heading to my nearest JoAnn! :o)
    Larissa ~ Prodigal Pieces recently posted..DIY: Barnwood & Bedskirt ValanceMy Profile

  3. andrea says:

    Super cool! My husband hates the real burlap…it it irritates his senses to no end!
    andrea recently posted..Trailer Trash: Interior- Before Photos Part 1My Profile

  4. Jill Flory says:

    I’ve looked at linen burlap online but never seen it at Joanns. Now I will be looking for it! Fun stuff :)
    Jill Flory recently posted..Let Freedom Ring!My Profile

    • Jami says:

      You’ll love it, Jill. It’s in the aisle (at least at our JoAnn) with the embroidery threads, hoops, etc. I just happened to notice a few packages sitting on the bottom shelf!

  5. I hate the smell of burlap too! I buy the ribbon burlap at Michael’s and air it out over the porch railing before bringing it indoors and using it for Christmas decor. Loved this post and the stamped burlap is really cute. The linen burlap is similar to the linen that I have used for cross-stitching over the years. Softer and certainly not smelly.
    Elizabeth@ Blue Clear Sky recently posted..Happy 4th of July!My Profile

  6. Stephanie says:

    What a great find! Wish I could pin it from my Feedly. Burlap does stink (smelly) and it fades in the sun.

  7. Kimberly says:

    Thanks for the great info Jamie. I really enjoy your blog. I love the look of burlap. I have had good experiences with Sultana burlap which is petroleum-free, hence that odor in treated burlap, and Sultana has a tighter weave, about an 11 ounce weave. You can find it at Save on Crafts. What do you plan on making with your linen burlap? Would love to see it!

  8. Jami what a great find and so kind of you to share with us, I will definitely be on the lookout for this one. The smell of burlap is truly like a barn gone bad, looking forward to this great alternative. Thank you.
    Jaime Costiglio recently posted..“J” is for July 4thMy Profile

  9. Paula Carli says:

    He there: I loved your information. I am a big user of linen and burlap in my home and on the farm. I now sell farm flowers and wrap them in burlap. When I do bouquets, I use mason jars and tie a big ribbon using burlap. Your discussion is interesting but really not sure if I understand. There is Jute Burlap, which you found in the package. Which is better than burlap but not fine and soft enough to cover pillow or furniture? You use Linen Burlap? for upholstery projects: I use linen but didn’t know there was a product called Linen Burlap. I have heard their is light weight linen, medium weight linen and heavy weight linen. There is flaux also, all so confusing. I guess a person would need to line all these products up and compare as you did of the two. Where I got lost was at the end when you sewed the strap using Linen Burlap which you recommend for upholstery/curtains. Thanks so much, love your post. Paula-windmill farm

    • Alima says:

      What she found in the package was a actually the linen burlap. Jute burlap is the type you probably already use – the smelly kind with the looser weave.

  10. Thistle says:

    LOVE this post, Jaime! I didn’t even know about linen burlap! I thought all burlap was created equal!

    Hope you have a wonderful day!
    Thistle recently posted..Free Burlap Letters PrintableMy Profile

  11. This is awesome, Jami! I also love the look of burlap but can’t bring myself to do anything major with it because of the smell and shedding. I will have to try out this Linen Jute, it looks cleaner and softer which are both pluses in my book! Thanks!

  12. Jenni says:

    Hello Jami~
    How are you? I hope you’re having a lovely summer so far!
    This linen jute looks wonderful, and I can’t wait to try it! I will definitely look for it next time I’m shopping fabric! :)
    I hope you have a beautiful day!

  13. Elyssa says:

    I would stick with using the burlap for crafts. I love your “We. Be. Three.” invitations using the jute twine. Great idea!
    Elyssa recently posted..Jute Tote Bags WholesaleMy Profile

  14. Pinning to my sewing board. just did a big project with white burlap and it is some yucky stuff! ;) the shedding is the worst!
    Jessica @ Dear Emmeline recently posted..A Big Boy BedroomMy Profile

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