Hessian is a rustic and hard-wearing fabric that can be used to bring texture and character to items for the home.
Traditionally used for sacks to transport coffee beans, the material is breathable, durable and resists condensation. It is also biodegradable, made entirely from natural fibres.
The open weave is ideal for cross-stitch, as the uniformed pattern of holes between the fibres makes it easy to create patterns and shapes.
The fabric can also be utilised to create a rustic planter or charming owl doorstop. Though the material frays easily when handled, this can add a decorative fringe to the makes. When sewing, it is best to use a short stitch and a double seam.
Try our hessian crafts below!
• Hessian fabric
• Sharp scissors
• Needle and cotton
• Sewing machine
• Small amount of patterned fabric
• Vintage buttons and toggle
• Small bag of gravel or rice
• Scraps of fabric for stuffing
• Tapestry needle
• Scraps of yarn in autumnal colours
• Embroidery hoop
• PVA glue
A wise welcome
A wise old owl welcomes guests and holds open the door to guard against slamming in windy weather. Using a piece of hessian, measuring 22in (56cm) wide and 12in (30cm) long, the shape is made using the same method as the plant pot. The face is sewn on using discs of fabric, large vintage buttons and a toggle for the beak. It is easier to sew the chest feathers once the owl is stuffed. To add weight, a small bag of pebbles or rice is placed at the bottom. The owl is then stuffed with scraps of old fabric or yarn. The owl should be firm, but with enough space left at the top to sew a seam below the frayed edging. The top is then folded down at the centre and sewn in place to create the shape of the head. Using shades of brown yarn and a tapestry needle, the chest feathers are sewn in an oval shape to complete the design.
Using a hessian cover for a plant pot draws the eye to the colours and patterns of the leaves. To ensure the correct amount of material is cut, the width of the piece is gauged by wrapping the fabric loosely around the pot, allowing for some give to enable the pot to be lifted in and out, plus a 2in (5cm) seam allowance. The height of the fabric should be twice the height of the pot. To make, the fabric is first frayed along the top edge. With the frayed edge at the top, the material is folded in half vertically and sewn at the bottom and along the open side, 1in (2.5cm) in from the edge, to create a bag. The bag is then turned the right way out and laid flat. The two bottom corners are folded in, lining up the corner with the bottom seam, to create a flat and stable base for the plant. Each folded-in triangle is hand-stitched in place. The top is then folded down, so that it sits just above the top of the pot, and stitched around the top edge for a neat finish.
Hoop of vibrant colour
Yarn in jewel shades evokes the colours of the season when used to create flowing patterns on a hoop of hessian. A square of fabric, 4in (10cm) larger than the hoop, is trapped tightly between the two wooden rings. Time should be taken to adjust the fabric to ensure that the weave is straight and firmly gripped by the wood. It may be necessary to tighten the clamp with a screwdriver to make sure that the hessian does not slip and fray. Using a tapestry needle, crosses and dashes are sewn with a short length of yarn to create the desired pattern. Once finished, the excess hessian is trimmed and some PVA glue added to seal the cut edge, if necessary.
Project: Rachel Hawkins; Photography: Richard Faulks
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