Monday, January 18, 2010

Burlap Buckets

By-Jenny2
As I've gushed to you previously, I find the blog Maya*Made inspiring and just lovely. For several months, I had been lusting after those burlap buckets that Maya crafts out of recycled coffee sacks. I scored a pile of coffee bags on Craigslist and decided to purchase her bucket pattern on Etsy. Dealing with Maya by email was a pleasure, she was just as gracious as she sounds on her blog.



The pattern for the bucket is straightforward and the clear instructions make it super easy. Additionally, Maya provides some burlap care information, which came in quite handy. There are two sizes provided, for a medium and a large bucket. I made one, then two, then a bunch, and a bunch more for Christmas gifts (as you know!). I love this project!



I did learn a few things in the process of making these burlap buckets.

First off, working with burlap... I recommend using coffee sacks instead of purchasing "fresh" burlap from the fabric store. It's a fantastic way to repurpose materials and it gives your final project a much more interesting story! Check your local Craigslist or Freecycle, or hit up a couple of your neighborhood coffee shops that do their own roasting -- I bet they'll have some sacks to unload.



I would also recommend picking burlap that is tightly woven (left, in photo below) rather than a wider, looser weave (right, in photo below). It makes sewing and turning the buckets a bit more foolproof.



Once you get that burlap home, air it for a while. My coffee sacks had been sitting outside for who knows how long in Seattle humidity when I picked them up and smelled dreadful. I hung them out to dry and freshen up on our back porch for a couple of sunny days. All better!

The first thing I did with my sacks is to cut off the rough seams so that I would have one flat piece of fabric. This allowed me to check for gashes and tears in the burlap, and to remove all the errant coffee beans left in the creases. Maya says you can compost jute, so toss those scraps and seams into your composter!



Working with the print and design on the coffee sacks was the tricky part for me. Maya recommends following the lines of the fiber and, in doing so, I made a few buckets with crooked designs. I should have been more careful. Turns out the design on a lot of those coffee sacks is not printed perfectly perpendicular and symmetrical! If I remember correctly, I think the Christmas bucket I made for your hubby was one of those far-from-straight finished products. I can't decide whether the result looks haphazardly cool, or just atrociously amateurish. I hope he likes it!



For the most part, I lucked out with the prints and also learned to correct potential crookedness when cutting and sewing. Part of the charm of these buckets is that they are a little rough around the edges, just like the sacks from which they came. They do look so cool, don't you think?

I used cotton batting like Maya advises, and it worked very well. For the inside fabric, she recommends designer weight fabric. I repurposed some old cotton curtains, and used a painter's dropcloth I had on hand (a very cost-efficient way to obtain a large amount of natural cotton canvas, at your nearby hardware store!).


Since making all my Christmas buckets, I have adapted the pattern into a couple of other projects with mixed results. I'll post about this soon!

Have you tried this bucket pattern? Have you had a chance to slice into those coffee sacks I sent you yet? What are your thoughts on working with burlap?

Angel-mini-buttonOh, I love Maya*Made! What talented woman. I haven't had a chance to make any of these yet, but I did air out that burlap you sent me! HOLY SMOKES that was some stinky stuff. I left it out on the clothesline through two snow storms, Lee thought I was crazy but I just told him that they REALLY needed to air out and the weather wouldn't hurt them. They're nice and clean and folded (and buried) in my craft space. I am looking forward to trying this pattern, the bucket you made for the husband is lovely. He's lucky I haven't stolen it from him yet!

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