When it comes to craft fabrics, burlap is among the absolute favorites for many. It has plenty of desirable qualities, like breathability, resilience, durability, and versatility for countless applications.
There’s also beauty in its simple rustic look, which people find appealing, particularly its natural golden color. However, burlap tends to fold and crease very easily.
This could be undesirable, especially if you intend to make apparel, table cloths, and other items you like nice and flat for a professional look. Burlap being the touchy fabric we know, often leaves many confused about whether you can or cannot iron burlap.
So can you iron burlap? Yes, you can iron burlap if you set your iron settings correctly and prepare the burlap adequately. If it is your first time working with burlap, handling it can prove a little tricky, as it needs special attention when ironing.
That is where we come in with this article dedicated to enlightening you on caring for burlap. Read on to learn how to iron burlap, plus other helpful care instructions.
What Is Burlap?
Natural burlap is a coarse woven fiber made from the plant matter of the Jute plant. It also goes by the names Hessian or Guncloth.
The fabric is loved for its countryside vibe. Home crafters often use it for sewing tablecloths, placemats, wall art, napkins, drapes, chair covers, sleeves for potted plants, and gift bags, to mention but a few.
Burlap has tons of other uses and is not just limited to sewing and crafting. It is, in fact, a staple in the agriculture and textile industries as well. It makes bags and sacks to store grass, grains, fruits, and other produce after harvest. You will also find burlap bags being used in soil conservancy to curb erosion.
Its tensile strength makes it a top choice for such demanding jobs. It is tear-resistant and highly durable. Burlap is also breathable and has moisture-wicking properties.
If the above features are not what sparks your interest in burlap, then it should be sustainability. In a world where there are growing ecological concerns, burlap is a green choice. The source plant (jute) matures quickly, making it a sustainable option. It is also natural and biodegradable, which keeps the planet happy.
On the contrary, burlap is highly flammable and also very brittle in certain conditions. This perhaps is some of the reason people shy away from attempting to iron burlap.
Unlike other ordinary fabrics like cotton or polyester, which you’ve ironed countless times before, burlap has probably never ended up in your laundry pile.
In addition to being an unfamiliar fabric, it is very delicate and sensitive to heat and water. Without proper handling, burlap can be ruined quickly by these two elements. Water and heat can cause burlap to shed, pill, shrink, and become extremely brittle. Consequently, it cannot go through agitation in a washing machine or tumble dry cycle.
This, however, should not water down your hopes of removing creases or even placing permanent folds or pleats in your burlap crafts using an iron. It is okay to iron burlap, and we will show you how to do it properly.
Please note that some types of burlap are made from synthetic fibers, usually polyester, and are known as faux burlap. Faux burlap has slightly different features from natural burlap, and therefore they do not behave the same with heat and water.
Faux burlap is less fussy than natural burlap. It is much softer and more resistant to heat damage, shrinkage, wrinkling, and shedding. You can toss it in the washing machine, tumble it dry, and iron it worry-free. In this article, however, the processes refer to natural burlap.
How To Press Wrinkles Out Of Burlap
They say that prevention is always better than a cure. So, before you learn how to eliminate wrinkles from burlap, you should look into ways of preventing them from getting there in the first place.
While burlap is naturally susceptible to creases and folds, how it is handled during care could minimize or amplify the ruffled appearance. Here are some ways to keep wrinkles at bay when caring for burlap.
Washing, Drying, And Storing Burlap
Although store-bought burlap may come wrinkle-free, you might need to wash it to eliminate any offensive odors and loose fibers and soften it up. The same goes for recycled burlap, which could be dirty from its previous usage.
Subsequent washing of burlap is unnecessary and should be done infrequently because washing opens up opportunities for more wrinkling.
Sometimes all your burlap needs to be refreshed is a light brushing to remove dust and lint, squirting with water, and air drying. However, nasty stains and heavy dirt call for an immersion wash.
Burlap needs a gentle touch when washing. That is why hand washing in cold water with mild detergent is recommended for burlap. After swishing it around a bit in the tub, rinse the burlap under running water until it runs clear.
You might have come across people swearing by a delicate cycle in the washing machine. If you are a risk-taker and don’t mind experimenting with your burlap, you can try it to see the results, but hand washing is the sure-fire way of not damaging the burlap.
Do not wring burlap—wringing burlap results in hard-to-remove creases on it. Hang the burlap to dry in a clothing line or drying rack away from direct sunlight. Once dry, do not fold the burlap. Instead, roll it up. You can use the middle part of a kitchen towel roll, foil roll, or any suitable tube.
A few small creases here and there is never a big deal. They could pass off as part of the rustic theme of burlap. But if your burlap is deeply creased and you desire it to look smooth and flawless, ironing it is an option.
You have to be extremely careful when ironing burlap or else you risk scorching the fabric or ruining the plate of your iron. Here are some steps to follow when ironing burlap.
Things you’ll need:
- Spray bottle
- Distilled water
- Cheesecloth, muslin or white cotton pillowcase or rag
- Iron and ironing board
- Dampen Your Burlap – First, you must ensure that your burlap is damp. The best time to iron burlap is after washing it but before it is completely dry. It should be between the wet and the crispy dry stage. The drier it gets, the tougher the creases. If the burlap is already too dry, don’t worry, you’ll have a spray bottle and some distilled water to dampen it as you go. We recommend distilled water because, unlike tap water, it doesn’t contain any mineral salts. These salts tend to be left behind as white residue on fabric when moisture escapes. The patchy whitish look is often quite unpleasant.
- Turn Over Your Burlap – You’ll want the backside facing up. You will be ironing the wrong side first.
- Begin Ironing Over Protective Cloth – Lay the burlap on the ironing board and spread it flat with your hands. When nice and flat, cover the section you want to start ironing with the cheesecloth, muslin, or cotton sheet.
- Keep Your Burlap Damp – Using the spray bottle, spritz the top cloth with the distilled water until it soaks through to the burlap.
- Continue Ironing – With your iron at the medium heat setting, iron the burlap with the cheesecloth in between until the creases beneath are eliminated. You can lift the cheesecloth to check progress before moving to another section. Iron across the creases for quicker results. If they appear stubborn, switch the iron settings to their highest heat or linen setting. Keep the iron in constant motion and avoid lingering on the same spot for too long. Heat may quickly build up and damage either fabric.
- Iron The Other Side – When done with the wrong side, turn the burlap over to iron the right side, following the same procedure. It should be much easier this time as most of the work is already accomplished.
Can You Steam Burlap?
Perhaps you prefer to deal with wrinkles using a clothes steamer rather than an iron and might be wondering whether it is an option for burlap too.
So can you steam burlap? Absolutely. You can steam burlap. Simply hang your burlap somewhere nicely using a hanger or over a rack or rod. Hover the steamer around the wrinkles. The steam will do its magic.
If you don’t have a steamer, you can use a steam iron. Set it to low heat but full steam and pass it over the burlap lightly. Use the iron mister or spray bottle to dampen the creased areas. No appliances? Don’t worry. Even granny’s old hot water kettle steaming style works on burlap perfectly.
So, What Is The Best Way To Remove Wrinkles From Burlap?
Steaming is the ideal way to remove wrinkles from burlap. It is a no-contact method, eliminating the chances of scorching your fabric.
The steamer produces steam that penetrates and softens the fibers where the creases are, taking them out effectively, and the results are much faster. Steam iron is the next best thing to use if you don’t have a clothes steamer. But there are many different types of irons, some of which do not have steam settings.
In this case, you can resort to ironing your burlap following the method we discussed above. With this informative article, we hope you’ll be able to keep your burlap looking clean and sharp and enjoy it for a long, long time.
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