Tutorial + How-to How to Upcycle a Coffee Sack into a Burlap Box

Published on June 30th, 2011 | by Karen Lee


How to Upcycle a Coffee Sack into a Fabric Box

How to Upcycle a Coffee Sack into a Burlap Box

Coffee sack burlap is a great sustainable material. It’s natural, biodegradable, and strong. Here is an easy tutorial on how to make a great shabby chic fabric box from an upcycled coffee sack.

When I read how eco-friendly burlap is, I just had to craft with it. So when a local coffee shop owner practically threw a dozen coffee sacks at me and pleaded with me to take them, I felt like I just robbed a bank. I raced home and started making these burlap fabric boxes.

I have to admit, burlap is a little tricky to work with since it sheds. But once the pieces were cut, they were manageable. Just make sure to have a dust pan ready. Oh, and if the edges fray, save the jute yarn to use as ties for gift wrapping.

How to Upcycle a Coffee Sack into a Fabric Box


  • Coffee Sac Burlap (or feed burlap)
  • Lining – cut two inches longer on sides “a” than burlap for folding down the top edges.
  • Fusible web – Which may be eliminated if you’re creative and find other ways to make burlap stiffer.
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Lace – optional

Cut burlap, lining, and fusible web in a cross shape in any dimension you want. Make sure all of the sides labeled “1” are the same and all of the sides labeled “a” are the same. I wouldn’t make the box any taller than six inches high (dimension for sides “a”) as the walls may not be stiff enough for them to hold up. But if you can find ways to keep them stiff, you can make them taller.How to Upcycle a Coffee Sack into a Burlap Box
Burlap Box Steps 1-4

  1. When you fold along the dotted line, all sides should meet evenly.
  2. Then, sew the two outer sides, 3 and 4. Then, gather the top corners 1 and 2 and then, sew the remaining two sides.
  3. Keep the box wrong side out and fold down on the wrong side, an inch from the top and then fold down again, one inch.
  4. Iron the folded edges.

Burlap Box Steps 5-8

Next, place box with lining top edges folded down.

If you are going to decorate the outside panels of the burlap, like adding lace, this is the time to do it. Iron fusible web (follow instruction on the package) to the wrong side of the burlap. Then, sew the edges of the burlap, same as the lining.

Turn the box right side out.

How to Upcycle a Coffee Sack into a Burlap Box

Insert the lining inside the burlap box, right side in (the wrong sides of the lining and the burlap should be touching each other), and pin the edges of the lining over the top edges of the burlap. Then sew all around the folded edges.

How to Upcycle a Coffee Sack into a Burlap Box

Ta dah! The possibilities of sizes and shapes are endless! You can even make round buckets or shallow trays. What a practical way to upcycle such great fabric! And it costs practically nothing!

Have you tried crafting with coffee sacs? What have you made with it? Please share in the comments!

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About the Author

Karen lives a simple, frugal, green life and shares her eco tips and news on ecokaren and is a co-founder of Green Sisterhood, a network of community of green women bloggers, making change. When she's not managing Green Sisterhood or blogging on ecokaren, she is a chauffeur to two greenagers, wife to an accidental recycler, master chef to hungry locavores, seamstress, knitter, and dumpster diver, not necessarily in that order.

23 Responses to How to Upcycle a Coffee Sack into a Fabric Box

  1. Tanya Kearns says:

    Karen, I love this post! I also appreciate that you point out burlap’s ‘tricky’ features. At the end of the day I’m covered in burlap fibers but it all pays off in the long run. Great tutorial :).

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Tanya. I didn’t wash these but was afraid to clog up my washing machine. I prolly would be covered in burlap fiber too if I worked with it as often as you do. Your bags are gorgeous!

  2. Rachel says:

    Love these! I need to find a coffee shop that has sacs to give away!

    • Karen says:

      Most coffee shops that roast their own coffee have tons of sacs that they throw away or donate. So, ask the manager. They’d love to give them to you for free…at least the one that I went to were glad to give them away. 

  3. Van says:

    I love this idea! They look so neat!

  4. jane_29 says:

    Oo, these could actually look quite steampunk if put together right – especially with the khaki lining on the first one.

    Most impressive, and tips on where to find completely free crafting materials are not exactly unwelcome! 🙂

    • Karen says:

      You can make this with denim, khaki, upholstery fabric, or canvas too. They’ll work well as lining also. Decorate it any way you like!!

  5. Jma280 says:

    i like to insert that really cheap needlepoint canvas (10 cents a sheet) to add stiffness to things like this!   ( i know,  defeats the purpose of eco friendly, but maybe you have some laying around to recycle!) = )

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  12. Sheryl says:

    I love your box…I have a great supply of burlap and use Tyvek bird seed bags as a stiffner…the tote or box crinkles but a great green alternative…Sheryl

  13. JustMe says:

    I love the concept, but it looks like links to the photos are gone. 🙁 I’d love to see the photos!

    • Becky Striepe says:

      Your wish is granted! 🙂 Thank you for letting us know about the missing photos – some of our older posts had the photos go poof!

  14. Anne Devereux says:

    Love all these good ideas!

    I’ve just made veg storage bags from sacking that I’ve had around for years-just simple lined rectangular bags with drawstring tops.Lining was from heavy curtain lining left over from shortening curtains so the already made hem was used to fold over the top of bag like your storage baskets. A side seam zip means the veg can be reached easily (large collection of rescued zips came in useful…) Stencil or draw ( permanent marker) name of produce on outside of bags and hang in your kitchen! Best for potato and onion.

  15. Rousseau Marie josé says:

    très joli modèle, ppuvez vous m’envoyer les mesures SVP, afin de pouvoir en confectionner un, merci

  16. Pingback: Kid Art Supply Storage Ideas

  17. mamtasm says:

    I love these bags. I just did one and they so super easy to make, thanks to your detailed instructions.

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