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What Color Is Burlap?

You’ve likely heard the term ‘burlap sack‘ used in relation to a potato sack race, but there aren’t really a lot of other situations where we encounter burlap in our everyday lives. So, what color is burlap? Traditionally, the color of burlap has been brown or tan.

Today, it is possible to find burlap in colors like blue, orange, yellow, green or black. In some products, burlap is blended with other fabrics like lace for a more elegant, sophisticated look. In this article, we’ll dive into some history, uses, and the pros and cons of working with burlap regardless of its color! 

Burlap Color

Some History on Burlap

Known as hessian or jute, burlap was first created in Dundee, Scotland. For thousands of years before this time, the ancient people of India used the jute plant to make rope, paper, and other items. In the 1790s, English traders began to ship tons of jute to Britain. By 1793, exports of jute from India to Britain total 100 tons.

On reaching Dundee, Scotland, an important discovery was made about jute. A new technique was created that allowed the tough plant material to be converted into yarn. By the 1830s, Dundee was produced large quantities of the burlap material in jute mills. In 1919, production total one billion yards of burlap cloth or roughly 450 million burlap bags. Around this time, the burlap fabric was used to create uniforms for German soldiers, which gave it the nickname of β€œhessian” since the soldiers were from the state of Hess.

Burlap has fallen out of fashion as a military uniform, primarily because it is extremely uncomfortable to wear. While the strong material is perfect for bags, the itchiness of the fabric makes it rough against the skin. Due to the scratchiness of the fabric, it has actually been used in religions like Roman Catholicism as a type of penance. Practitioners wear a burlap shirt under their normal clothes as a way to secretly do penance for sins that they have committed. 

Modern Burlap: New Uses, Colors and Variations

Color Jute Muslin Bags

The plant’s natural colors automatically look brown when spun into yarn, so this natural burlap color is the cheapest to produce. Over the years, changes in dying technology and consumer demand have caused different types of burlap to develop. Now, many different burlap colors exist in many different forms. 

Historically, burlap sacks have been used to carry heavy items like coffee, cement, sand, and concrete. The extremely strong jute fibers make it perfect for shipping items, so it has remained popular in industries where loose items like coffee beans need to be transported. Due to its strength and durability, burlap is often chosen for creating sandbags. When a flood is about to start, burlap sandbags are used to create a temporary embankment that protects the city from flood waters.

Other than the more obvious uses, burlap is used for creating an inexpensive, natural canvas for artists. In poorer regions of the world, the inexpensive fabric is even used as a temporary covering to keep rain or snow off of a dwelling. In crafting circles, it is used as a more natural, safe alternative to man-made fabrics.

Burlap Sacks

What Makes Burlap So Strong?

To become one of the strongest fibers in the world, the jute plant uses a high cellulose and lignin content. Cellulose and lignin are the components that normally make wooden stalks strong. When added together, these components give jute a strength that is on par with the strongest of trees. It is strong, durable and extremely inexpensive to produce. In addition to being simple to dye, it is resistant to heat and water.

Before jute is harvested, it is actually a white color. Once the jute is dried and processed, it takes on the brown-colored hue that people readily recognize as the color of burlap. Despite its traditional caramel colored tones, the versatile fabric is available in numerous different colors today.

See our Burlap Options


  1. Marlo Lotfioff December 27, 2018

    We would like to know more about colouing Burlsp

  2. Gaynor November 14, 2017

    Santa sack would be great

  3. Yvette Merrick October 28, 2017

    Thank you for the article on burlap.Lately, I had been trying to be creative with colored burlap material. I made Christmas stockings.

    • Emily at Paper Mart October 30, 2017

      You are very welcome! We are glad you liked our post. Burlap Christmas stockings sound awesome!

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