What Is Hessian?


Hessian is an incredibly diverse fabric. Its rustic appearance and rough texture makes it a great choice for a wide range of craft projects – from wedding decorations to plant pots, there’s almost nothing that this fabric can’t do. Despite its popularity, there are some misconceptions around the fabric; specifically, around what it actually is, and how it is different from other well known fabrics. In this blog post, we’ll be clearing away any confusion, and answering all of your burning questions about all things hessian. 

And if you’re looking to purchase hessian fabrics today, we can help. Whether you require 40 inch wide hessian fabric, 54 inch wide hessian fabric or 72 inch wide hessian fabric, we stock it all and more at Discount Fabrics. 

What Is Hessian?

Hessian fabric is a natural material, made from the skin of a jute plant. A jute plant is also known as the Golden Fibre, because it is a long and shiny golden plant. Grown in India, especially in eastern regions, it is harvested for two main purposes: to be used as a cooking ingredient, and to make hessian fabric. 

In this blog post, we are solely interested in the latter purpose. There are several kinds of hessian fabric:

  • Laminated Coloured Hessian Fabric
  • Extra Wide Fire Retardant Hessian
  • Bituminized Hessian
  • Coloured Jute Hessian
  • Coloured Soft Jute Hessian
  • Coloured Fire Retardant Jute Hessian

Each kind is used for a slightly different purpose, and so the kind that you need depends on what you are hoping to make. For example, if you want to make a notice board or wall covering, you should use fire retardant hessian, as this is safer for items that you intend to hang in your home or workplace. 

How Is Hessian Fabric Made?

As previously mentioned, hessian fabric is made from jute plants. The actual manufacturing process is relatively simple; from harvest to weaving, it can be broken down into a few basic steps.

  1. The jute plant is harvested and defoliated.
  2. Any non-fibrous material is removed, in a process called retting. 
  3. The fibres are separated and combed. 
  4. The fibres are spun into yarn.
  5. Finishing processes are then executed. This could be adding a dye or making it water or fire resistant.
  6. The finished fibres are then woven into textiles.

These textiles are the hessian fabrics that you are likely already familiar with. Available in an array of sizes, there is a fabric available for your every project. 

What Is The Difference Between Burlap And Hessian?

This is one of the biggest misconceptions around this fabric, because burlap and hessian are both terms referring to the exact same material. Burlap is typically used by people from America and Canada, while hessian is favoured by people throughout Europe and in Australia. 

This means that there is actually no difference between the two fabrics! Instead the two terms can be used interchangeably. 

What Are The Properties Of Hessian Fabric?

  • Breathable
  • Moisture-wicking 
  • Eco-friendly 
  • Durable
  • Biodegradable 

Depending on whether the fabric has been treated, it can also have water resistant and fire resistant properties. 

What Is Hessian Fabric Used For?

As we mentioned at the very beginning of this post, hessian fabric is hugely diverse. It has a range of possible applications, especially when woven with other fabrics to create a finished material with slightly different properties. The multiple uses of hessian can be broken down into five categories: clothing, craft, homeware, industrial and agricultural.

Hessian Clothing

This fabric is surprisingly popular for apparel, despite having a reputation for being coarse and rough. When woven with other fabrics, it is actually really great for jumpers and jackets because of its various properties. It is also sometimes used by the armed forces, because it is effective for camouflage due to its colour and texture. 

Hessian Crafts

This is an application that you are likely highly familiar with, and interested in. This is because hessian crafts are rustic, eye-catching and a fantastic addition to any room or event. Some of our favourite examples include:

  • Decorative coverings 
  • Ornaments
  • Bunting

Hessian Homeware

There is some overlap here with crafts, as many of these homeware ideas can be made for fun, whether you’re an ameteur or a professional. This includes cushion covers, curtains, rugs and canvases – all things that are sure to make your home look great. Hessian can tie in really well with rustic and chic rooms, and provide a stark contrast to more modern ones. This means that they are a great addition to your living room, bedroom, office space or all three.

Industrial Hessian

Hessian sacks are used to transport goods, because they are strong and durable while still allowing the contents to breathe. All kinds of products can be carried in hessian sacks, most notably coffee beans, potatoes and tobacco. They are also filled with sand during times of crisis, so that they can be used as a temporary measure to mitigate damage caused by flooding. 

Agricultural Hessian

This is one of the more traditional uses of the fabric. As it is entirely natural, it is both eco-friendly and biodegradable. This means that it is commonly used for seed protection, weed control and landscaping. Its agricultural applications are fairly broad. Hessian is frequently used to make scarecrows, positioned on farmland to scare away the birds. It can also be used by bee-keepers, to smoke bees out of their hive, as it is a slow-burning fabric.

Hessian Fabric With Discount Fabrics

At Discount Fabrics, we sell a selection of hessian fabrics that are suitable for all of your crafting and sewing needs. Whether you require 40 inch wide hessian fabric, 54 inch wide hessian fabric or 72 inch wide hessian fabric, we can help.

We pride ourselves on providing high quality fabric at affordable prices. From 100% cotton to netting, we are confident that we have a fabric that is suitable for your next big project. So for all of your fabric needs, take a look at the rest of our website and please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Contact us today by completing an online form, and a member of our friendly, customer-first team will answer all of your questions as quickly as possible.

And if you’re interested in reading more about hessian, and other popular fabrics, be sure to take a look at our blog.