How to Make a Burlap Sign

One of my biggest sellers previously was burlap signs and letters. I don’t make them any more, but that’s all part of the evolution. 🙂

Here’s how I make them (revised):

Making the burlap part:

  1. Start by printing out what you word or letter you want in font you want it in. Note that when you create something in MS Word, you can change the font beyond the options that are available. Like you can manually type in 200 as the font even if it’s not in the list.
  2. Once printed, if it’s really large, you may have to tape the pages together. Note that you can’t go too big with the fonts or you end up with a puzzle in the end and it could be unusable.
  3. Trace the outline of your word or letter with a Sharpie marker.
  4. Iron a piece of burlap that will cover the outline you have created and cut it if necessary so there is plenty of room around your word or letter. Leave some room so you can trim it if needed. Note that if you cut too close to the letter or word, you won’t have any room for error.
  5. Place the outlined paper underneath your ironed burlap.
  6. Trace the outlined word or letter (that you can see through the burlap) with your Sharpie marker. Once complete, you should end up with an outlined word or letter on your burlap.
  7. Leave the paper underneath the burlap and paint inside the outlines using black  acrylic paint. Cover the outlines. Move the painted burlap to a cardboard box or some other surface after painting, but before it’s completely dry, otherwise it will stick to the burlap and you’ll have paper bits on the bottom.
  8.  Set aside.

Preparing the wood:

  1. Using the measurement you’ve determined, cut your wood.  You can buy wood at Home Depot or Lowe’s and ask them to cut it for you if you already know what size you want.
  2. Sand the wood to remove all jagged edges left from cutting.  I use an electric disk sander and usually spend the most time sanding the ends.
  3. Paint the sanded wood with regular paint using the color of your choice.  I typically use two coats of paint.
  4. Sand the painted wood to distress it.  I sand some areas down to the wood to give it a distressed look.
  5. Seal your wood with varnish.  I use a spray varnish.  I know its cheating a bit, but it is easier to clean up for me.

Putting it all together:

  1. Place your burlap on top of your finished wood.  Center your word on the wood and trim around the edges.
  2. If a fringed look is desired, pull some of the threads off of the burlap.
  3. Spray the back of the burlap with spray glue.  Don’t use too much, just enough so that it sticks to the wood.  For smaller signs, this step may not be required, but I eventually started doing this for every size.  On bigger signs, the burlap starts to sag a bit away from the wood.
  4. Using upholstery nails, nail the burlap to the wood.  If you make a mistake in placing the nail, use a knife or something else to pull it back up and re-position it.  Make sure to pull the burlap evenly when placing the nails to avoid any buckling of the burlap.
  5. Once nails are in, use a spray varnish to seal the paint to the burlap and the burlap to the wood.
  6. Nail in a sawtooth hanger to ready your sign for hanging and you’re done!


Read on only if you want to see how much I learned over time…

This is my old method (I stopped using it somewhere along the way as the cutting was just a pain in the butt):

  • Start with paper, pen and a stencil.  I like to use letters that are about 3 1/2 inches tall.  The size of the letter matters as it dictates the size of the wood required.
  • Draw a line on the paper with a pen.
  • Stencil your letters using the line as a guide.  Remember to evenly space the letters.
  • Use an exacto knife to cut out the letters.  I have a cutting board that I use beneath the paper.
  • Measure the template you have created to determine the size of wood required.  I like to leave at least one inch on either side, maybe two.  If my template is 12 inches, I will use a 14 – 16 inch piece of wood.
  • Cut out a piece of burlap that will leave an inch all the way around your word or words.  If my template is 12 inches wide and 3 1/2 inches tall, my piece of burlap will be 14 inches by 5 1/2 inches.
  • Iron the burlap.
  • Take the template and place it on top of the burlap and paint over it.  I use acrylic paint, I couldn’t get the spray paint to work without it leaking onto the rest of the burlap.  Don’t put too much paint on at once as it may leak around your template.  I put just enough to show me where the letters are.
  • Take the template off and touch all of the letters up.  If you have painted just enough, for the outline, you’ll need go over each letter.
  • Set aside

One thought on “How to Make a Burlap Sign

  1. Debbie you have totally motivated me to get busy and start a blog site. You have a great site and I love the idea of offering a ‘how to’ in contructing ta product. Great idea! When I realised you used wordpress for your site it ‘reminded’ me that I had actually signed into wordpress last Sept. (totally forgot all about it until now) So I just spent a few hours trying to write a blog, it’s a start, pretty lame actually but I’ll redo later, it’s time to get off the computer before my back goes on strike! Good luck with your shop and your blog, Trish


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