Trash to Treasure: Burlap Sack Headboard

Another installment of the trash to treasure series today from Patricia & David Warrington who are co=owners/designers of Karma Flowers (who also run a fun event design blog), a floral and event company. In other words, they live and breathe the design trends in their work so I was excited to see what they would do with a trash to treasure challenge.

It seems these days, burlap is turning up everywhere. From bags to shoes to wedding and event decor, and even interior design. We have embraced the trend because it is natural and neutral, durable and relatively inexpensive. Recently, we have designed burlap table runners and bunting for some very special occasions and have also taken to using it in our own home improvement designs. However, we don't always use burlap in it's most common form, which is simply on a fabric roll. Instead, we have sought out companies that use burlap sacks, or cocoa sacks, in their daily business and have purchased them in an effort to up-cycle. Why? Well, for one, it's environmentally a good choice to reuse and re-purpose, but stylistically it creates options. Burlap sacks typically have bold type or even graphics on them. While most are stamped with black ink, we have found others that infuse greens and reds, and even more vibrant oranges and blues. Against the earth toned sack, the colors really pop.

One of our favorite burlap sack projects was our very own headboard. Our young son often sleeps with us and moves and rolls all over the bed, so we knew we wanted something soft above our heads. Additionally, we wanted to maintain a relatively neutral color palette to fix with the muted and tranquil feel of the rest of the room. Rather that just buying a roll of burlap and creating a rather standard piece we turned, instead, to sacks we had recently purchased at a flea market for around $10.

The first thing you should know about true cocoa sacks is that they stink! Two ways to remedy this is to simply leave them outdoors in covered space for a day or so and let the fresh air to it's magic. The smell may not entirely lift, but it will with time. If you are a bit more adamant about removing the smell, you can soak the sacks in warm water. We suggest leaving them in the water for a couple of hours and then again, letting them air dry, While some burlap is machine washable, this is not recommended for burlap sacks that are not as tightly woven and might significantly fray.

While your burlap sacks are getting a bath, you can begin on the headboard structure. We used a 4' x 8' sheet of 3/4" plywood. A standard size king mattress is 76" wide. We decided to make our headboard 80" wide, in order to allow for a 2" overhang on each side. This accounts for a plush mattress cover or bedspreads. The height is strictly an aesthetic decision. Ours is 40" tall to give you an firm measurement.

You will also need upholstery foam (enough to cover the width and height of the plywood but you can piece several together to achieve this) and spray adhesive. When you are ready to affix the foam, spray a generous amount of spray adhesive onto the plywood. Carefully, place the foam on the plywood with roughly a half inch overhang of foam over the wood.

The next step is to lay batting, at least a foot longer and wider than the foam, out on a flat surface. Flip the plywood and foam over so the foam is lying on the batting. Take one size and fold it up and over onto the plywood, stapling from one end to the other. Repeat the process for the opposite side of the structure than the one you started with. Then repeat for the remaining two sides, being sure to pull extra tight and tuck neatly in the corners.

Once you have selected the sacks you wish to work with and they are clean cut the backs of the sacks off, but do not discard. Keeping in mind type and pattern, lay out the sacks with the graphics in the pattern you desire.

Now you must "sew" them together in order to create a piece of fabric large enough to cover the surface of your wood and foam headboard. Here's a secret. Neither one of us can sew using a sewing machine {learning is on my to-do list} so we elected to hand stitch the bags together using twine.

The twine kept with the natural feel of the burlap and was thick enough to let allow us to do less stitches on each sack. We chose to sew the backs of the sacks together first and use them as the first layer of fabric cover on the wood and foam. This allowed us to stretch the graphic sacks tight around the edges, without worrying that the batting would show through the burlap. Staple the burlap just like you did the batting.

And Voila! You now have a custom upholstered burlap sack headboard. We recommend using french cleats to hang it as they hold weight rather well.

Now sleep tight.


  1. I LOVE how easy you made this seem. I actually feel like I could accomplish this.  I am crazy for those coffee sacks, thank you for sharing!

  2. This is so me!  I am in love with this project!!!  I've been on the hunt for bags like this for a while with no luck.  Any suggestions on where to buy them?

    1. Try flea markets, there is one in Dallas and each bag is only $1

  3. Caro Chambers11:37 AM

    oooh, that is very cute. love it. 


  4. Apron Girl11:53 AM

    oooh I really Love this headboard! I am a huge fan of burlap so this is right up my ally.  Great job!

  5. That is such a cool project.  Such a cool use for burlap sacks.  Love it.  

  6. how2home5:08 PM

    This is very pretty! Love it! I wonder how much the whole project cost? 

  7. Hmm... that is a Headbaord to my liking!
    Quite inspiring. :)

  8. That is pretty cool, I love the unique look of the sacks.  That sounded kind of dirty!  ha


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