Grain Sack Reproduction Project

French and German grain sacks are so popular at the moment but so very expensive; especially with shipping from overseas! But for those of us that love the look but don’t want to shell out the big bucks there’s a much cheaper solution.

I had everything I needed in my stash (hoarder alert) but there are some things that you’ll need to purchase if you want to recreate the grain sack look. Try and use what you already have; go shopping at home and be inventive!

  • Hessian – i bought mine from Spotlight when it was on sale (I bought 10m for upholstery so there’s always left over on hand for other projects.
  • Mounting board – i used some left over mat board from another project, but foam core or other decent weight cardboard would do fine.
  • Backing board – I used the same mat board I used to mount the hessian on.
  • Stencil – This “Lavande Soap” stencil came from Blake & Taylor in Brisbane.
  • Picture Frame Moulding – I bought this picture frame moulding from Reverse Garbage in Brisbane for a steal!
  • Paint – I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old Violet which I bought a few years ago from Brocante in the Barossa for ‘washing’ the frame and Fusion Mineral Paint from I Restore Stuff in Linen to paint the mount board.

There are some tools and consumables that you’ll need:

  • Paper – to fit to the back of the picture frame to enclose it
  • Spray glue – to glue the hessian ‘sack’ to the mounting board
  • Picture framing tape/masking tape – to adhere the paper to the back of the frame
  • D-rings – you’ll need 2 d-rings and screws to hang the frame (you could omit d-rings and staple twine instead)
  • Plastic covered wire – to hang the frame (you could use twine)
  • Felt stick-on dots – to promote air flow and protect your walls
  • Staples – to construct your frame – i used 14mm staples for a pneumatic staple gun
  • Wood glue – to give your frame structural strength
  • Frame clamp – this will help keep the frame square as you glue and staple it together
  • Staple gun – a manual staple gun is fine (not an office stapler), but if you have an electric or pneumatic staple gun it will be easier on your hands.
  • Flexible points – these little metal tips hold the glass, mat, picture and backing board into the frame, but if you don’t have a flexi point hand-gun to insert the tips into the frame, and don’t intend to add glass, you can use masking tape or framers tape to hold your grain sack mounted board into the frame.
  • Scissors – to cut the paper backing
  • Craft knife – to cut the mat mounting board (you can use scissors but a craft knife and ruler is easier)
  • Ruler – for marking out lines – i used a metal rule.
  • Chalk – to help centre the stencilled design when applying to mount board
  • Flat Paint Brush – a cheap brush is fine
  • Stencil Brush
  • Screw Driver – You’ll only need this if you’re using d-rings and screws
  • Painters Tape (optional, you can use masking tape)
  • Paper towel – to blot paint when stencilling
  • A clean rag – to wipe off the excess paint from ‘washing’ the colour on to the frame’s carved design


Stencilling the hessian

Tape the hessian to a flat surface; try to get it as square as possible. Tape the stencil to the hessian. Stir the paint and using the stencil brush, stencil the design using a blotting motion. Blot the paint on the paper towel each time you dip into the paint; this will help keep the paint from bleeding under the stencil. Remove the stencil and leave the design to dry. Chalk paint is fabulous on fabric and doesn’t need to be fixed with any medium.

Once dry, measure around the design to decide how much of the hessian you want showing outside the frame edges. I used the chalk to draw a ‘frame’ around the stencilled design. Next, measure the rebate of the frame and then add this measurement around all four sides of the chalked frame lines; this is the measurement you’ll use for cutting the mounting board  – you can draw these lines on too and they will help you centre the hessian straight onto the mount board.

I chose to paint the mount board in a neutral dark tone (Fusion Mineral paint ‘Linen’) so that the original white colour wouldn’t show through the woven hessian.

When the mount board is dry, use a spray glue to adhere it to the board using the chalk lines as guides to keep it straight. I used Kwik Grip spray glue that i had on hand from upholstery projects. Once dry, trim the hessian to the edges of the mount board.

Cut your frame moulding to size. The formula i used was to measure the height and width of the mounted design and add 2mm to each of the two measurements (height and width). Then measure the rebate of the frame – this is the section that has been routed out and where the glass, art, mat etc sits.  Subtract the rebate measurement from the height and width measurements; this is your wood cut measurements.

If you don’t have a compound mitre saw at your disposal, Bunnings has a cutting service and if you have neighbours/relatives with a saw or a local Men’s Shed nearby, take a packet of biscuits, put on a smile and ask nicely! The local Men’s Shed will usually be happy with a donation to morning tea to do your cutting; that’s a good deal in my opinion.

Add a little wood glue to both ends of each four sides, rub it around and once it becomes tacky, put them together; repeat with all other sides and then put the frame into a frame/corner clamp and lightly tighten. Adjust the sides so that each corner sits together evenly and then tighten the frame clamp. Dampen a sheet of paper towel and wipe away any glue that is pressed out of the joins.

Leave overnight to dry. While the frame is drying, it’s time to ‘wash’ the carved decoration of the frame. Use the paint brush to paint on the paint and use the clean rag to wipe off. This is an entirely visual process; keep checking to see how heavy or light your want the paint colour to be.

The next day, use the staple gun to add two staples into each corner of the frame to keep it held securely together. Take off the corner/frame clamp and cut a piece of backing board to the size of the rebate. Put the mounted stencilled hessian board into the frame and then add the backing board on top. If you have flexi points, you can then insert them into the rebate to hold in the hessian board and backing board. You can also use framers tape/masking tape to tape the backing board down to the inside edges of the rebate since the hessian is mounted onto a light weight board. You can also fill the back of the frame with a piece of foam core so that it sits flush with the back of the frame and then continue on to adding the backing paper.

Cut a piece of paper to cover up the back of the frame; measure the back of the frame so that the paper sits a few millimetres inside the outside edge of the frame – you need to cut it slightly smaller than the frame so that there’s enough room for the frame tape/making tape to adhere to the frame. Tape down the paper.

Measure the height of the frame. Divide this measurement by 3. This measurement (1/3rd of the height of the frame) is how far down the frame, from the top, that you will attach the hanging d-rings or staple the twine. Mark where the d-rings/twine will sit on the frame. If you’re using the d-rings, you’ll need to sit them on the frame and mark where they will sit so that no part of the d-ring will show over the edge of the frame. Use the screwdriver to attach the d-rings or use a staple gun to add twine.


Cut the plastic covered wire so that you’ve got enough to pull and tie to the d-rings. Here’s a great video from Fix-a-Frame (a business local to me that i’ve used many times) showing how to tie off the wire.

And that’s it folks! You’ve finished. Now all you have to do is hang your decorative piece in the perfect spot.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.