DIY Antique Grain Sack Ribbon Tutorial

In this post: DIY Antique Grain Sack Ribbon Tutorial. Use these easy, step-by-step directions to make your own ribbon from an antique grain sack.

Way back when my blog was very new, I published a post called How to Make a Perfect Bow. It has been the single, most popular post on my site. About the same time, I opened an Etsy shop and began selling handmade home furnishings made from linen and vintage fabrics. I had just discovered grain sacks and had fallen totally, completely in love. So I started buying grain sacks and re-purposed them into items for my online shop. One of the things I made was ribbon from the grain sack stripes. I then used my Perfect Bow method to make wreath bows from the grain sack ribbon. All these years later, I’ve finally come up with a method for DIY antique grain sack ribbon that requires no sewing. Read on for all the details!

How To Make DIY Antique Grain Sack Ribbon

Before making the ribbon, it’s best to wash and dry the grain sack. Some dealers wash them before selling, but some don’t. Using a hot iron, press the grain sack after it has been laundered. 

red striped grain sack with supplies to make grain sack ribbon

1. Supplies needed

*Affiliate links included. See my disclosure statement. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Cutting lines for diy antique grain sack ribbon scissors small ruler

2. Measuring the ribbon

The perfect width for grain sack ribbon is between four and five inches, so a six inch strip works great. Begin measuring at one end of the sack. Using a ruler, place the 3 inch mark on the center line of the grain sack stripe. With the sharpie, make a cutting line on both sides of the stripe. Mark the entire length of the stripe, on both sides of the sack.

diy antique grain sack ribbon cut out with scissors

3. Cutting the grain sack ribbon

Once the entire length of the stripe is marked on both sides, begin cutting along one dotted line. Go slowly so the cutting line is as straight as possible. Repeat for the other side of the stripe. 

finishing raw edges of diy antique grain sack ribbon

4. Finishing the edges

At this point, you should have a 6 inch wide length of grain sack ribbon. Take the ribbon and fusible tape to your ironing board. Beginning with one side, fold over the raw edge about 3/4 inch and press with a hot iron. Cut a piece of fusible tape the length of your ribbon. Place the tape under the folded edge and press. Follow the directions on the fusible tape package for your iron settings. (Most tell you to turn off the steam.)

Repeat for the other side.

Once both sides have been fused, press the entire length of ribbon. If you aren’t going to use it right away, store it rolled and not folded. 

roll of diy antique grain sack ribbon with red stripe and vintage scissors

Where to buy grain sacks

Grain sacks vary in size, condition and price. The pristine, large sacks are of course more expensive than ones that have flaws or stains. It takes some time and searching to find good sacks, but it’s time well spent. Most of my sacks have been purchased on eBay, but they can be found on Etsy as well. Some flea markets, antique shows and antique malls carry them too. Here are my best sources.

board and batten wainscoting in dining room 2021

I used to be a purist when it came to vintage fabric…especially grain sacks. I never offered anything in my online shop that was made from new “grain sack inspired” fabric. I’ve relaxed a bit, and actually think it’s a very good way to get the look for less. I used new grain sack fabric on my dining room chairs at the Sutton Place house and I loved it. The fabric wore well and looked pretty authentic. It’s a great option if you don’t want to spend the money on an antique grain sack. 

Grain Sack Ribbon Tips

  • The length of your piece of ribbon will be determined by the length of your grain sack. Most antique grain sacks measure between 40 and 50 inches long. They are made from hemp fabric that comes in a roll. These rolls vary in width but are usually between 18 and 22 inches, sometimes wider, but the really wide sacks are hard to find. The sack is constructed of one long length of hemp, folded in half and stitched up the sides. So…if you have a grain sack that measures 45 inches long, your ribbon length will be 90 inches. 
  • When I sold grain sack ribbon in my online shop, I serged the raw edges, turned them under and finished them with a machine stitch. If you sew, and have the equipment, this is a good route to go.
  • Don’t let marks or stains keep you from using the entire length of the stripe. All grain sacks have been through the mill, so to speak, and the flaws add character. 

Do You Love Farmhouse Style?

Sign up for my FRESHLY UPDATED email series and see how easy it is to add touches of Farmhouse Style to your existing decor.

Leave a Reply

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


  1. I love things you craft and cook. don’t understand i can not see the pictures to pin so i don’t forget

  2. Carol Kindt says:

    Since I recently found your “How to Make the Perfect Bow” I’m going crazy making beautiful bows FINALLY. so that’s how its done. Thank you for the instructions.

  3. Norma Rolader says:

    Oh wow!!! Thank you for sharing the how to

  4. I love grain sacks and anything made from them, thanks Ann !

  5. Thank you for listing good sources for grain sacks. I admit I have never been able to think of good places to look. Now I do!

  6. Nan, Odessa, DE says:

    Ann, IF sewing grain sack fabrics, how does this differ from 100% cotton fabrics that I would use in my quilting? What size thread? Size stitch. If used for drapes, do I need to line them? I have blinds for closure under the drapes. Any hints you will share, will be greatly appreciated!

  7. I just used your perfect bow method on Friday to make new bows for our front lights! :) no grain sack but still do it the way I learned from you!!!! ❤️

  8. mattsgramma says:

    Beautiful bows Anita. They would go perfectly in my kitchen. I am also pinning this tutorial!
    Thank you so much.

  9. This is a terrific tutorial, Ann. Thank you for sharing. I have never made anything with grain sack, but you make it look easy. I am curious, though. What do you do with the remaining fabric once you cut the ribbon out of the centre? I am pinning this post.

    1. Good question! When I was sewing for my shop, I used the leftover grain sack for the backs of my little tree ornaments. Not an inch ever went to waste. Basically, you just have to re-purpose it in some other way. Perhaps back a pillow (if you sew) or use it for some other craft.

  10. I have been looking for grain sack fabric to cover my dining room chairs my granny gave me. Thanks so much for the info! I love your blog! Have a Merry CHRISTmas!

  11. Merry Christmas Ann ! Thank you so much for this post…the tutorial is easy to follow …I have 2 beautiful blue striped sacks that I purchased at Brimfield Antiques fair in Massachusetts…they are treasures…I have a small Victorian chair that belonged to my Husband’s grandmother and I had it professional upholstered with antique grainsack that bears the first initials of my 2 daughters…not sure if the lettering is original but the chair is a little showstopper ! I love the simplicity and beauty of your blog…..Smiles….Anne

    1. It sounds lovely! I’ve been looking for a grain sack with my initials for years. What a find!

  12. Nancy Bailey says:

    Ann – It was your blogs about grain sacks that inspired my love for them. I haven’t had the heart to cut into my ‘real’ grain sacks so I appreciate the information on the source for grain sack material. I am going to be recovering my ‘new-to-me’ antique cherry wood dining chairs in that fabric after seeing how lovely your chairs turned out. So thank you, thank you for your continued inspirational ideas and blogs. Have a blessed Christmas. Nancy

  13. Miriam
    I return to your blog again and again with delight. Today I thank you for a great useful lesson. Blessings to you and yours this Christmas.

  14. Barbara Moore says:

    Wonderful tutorial, Ann! Thanks so much.

  15. Love your grain sack ribbons as they look so festive!!

  16. What a wonderful idea!