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Rustic Autumn Vase

Wildflowers, branches of autumn leaves, garden cuttings, and even grocery store bouquets … they all deserve something special. Somehow a cut crystal vase isn’t right for most fall flowers in my mind, and storing an assortment of seasonal vases and containers is too much for me.

I created this burlap cover for a canning jar, which as we all know make wonderfully useful vases. With an assortment of these, which LAY FLAT to store, one canning jar could see you through a whole year!

This vase cover is made using a craft called Locker Hooking which I taught myself about 4 years ago. (Basic explanation coming up.)

I have several books on the subject (of course!) and there was a softly colored spring flower on burlap pictured in one of them; also several projects called for yarn — not typical.

I haven’t been able to get those ideas out of my head, so I decided to apply them it to a very burlap-y season, fall. Sunflowers seem to make the transition from brilliant August days into September as seasonal motifs go; they became my theme.

——— Time out for two paragraphs explaining locker hooking, then back to the project!

In locker hooking, you work with two materials and one tool on an open mesh – think latch hook mesh. Today’s project used burlap instead. Strips of cotton fabric are your design material – this is the only thing you see when the work is finished. Second, there is a string, usually cotton twine, that does the “locking.” Using a modified crochet hook called a locker hook, you pull loops of your design material up through the mesh foundation from the back to the front. Then you “lock” the loops onto the surface of the work by pulling the locking string through. Just so happens that your locker hook has a very large eye on the end, and it acts like a giant tapestry needle for this purpose!

You could compare locker hooking to old-fashioned wool rug hooking, done with very narrow wool strips on burlap. The loops are pulled up through the foundation quite similarly. Those loops of wool do not need any locking string because they are so tightly packed, and also because wool has a lot more friction against the burlap than smooth cotton does against an open mesh.  Don’t compare locker hooking to latch hook rugs, though. The only thing locker hooking has in common with latch hook rugs is the mesh they are worked on.


I used some embroidery stitches and ribbon embroidery while creating my sunflowers, stems, and leaves, as well as cotton fabric and yarn for the locker hooking. I had no pattern for either the sunflowers or the vase, so I had a great time measuring, marking, testing, and designing everything. I studied up on sunflowers so I could create something true enough for sunflower experts without sacrificing the fun and speed this project had in store for me. Well, speed once I quit playing around!

I pulled a few threads from the burlap at semi-random intervals for some visual interest. I used a variety of yarn for stems, leaves and centers of the sunflowers. All the centers were locker hooked from different brown yarns – experimenting! – but some of the stems and leaves were embroidered. Using yarn instead of fabric strips worked great!

I wasn’t sure how the burlap would behave once I had all that fabric pulled through it, so I allowed enough extra burlap width to be able to do some gathering and give the cover some fullness. I could tell after the first flower that I wasn’t going to use that idea.

One thing I found out as I started to fit the finished sunflower piece around the jar – it wasn’t going to sit nicely on a table with bulky stiff burlap bunched underneath! I folded the extra up inside, and used jute as a drawstring around the bottom. It blends right in to the burlap.

I also used jute to gather it to the top of the jar, doing a few additional wraps around just for looks before tying it off.  I had left myself plenty of extra burlap on the top edge in case I wanted to cuff it over, overcast the edge with a fabric strip or yarn, or fray it.  I ended up cutting it down and fraying about an inch; I can still fold it down a bit if I want to.


I commented to my son that it was too bad I didn’t have any flowers. Suddenly a blue Tupperware canister appeared on the table in front of me. Full of flour. I burst out laughing – he’s a clever one.


I picked up some flowers just for fun – the only sunflowers available were actually bigger than the whole canning jar, so yellow daisies won out.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my project. I love locker hooking. One day I’ll show some of the other things I’ve made. This project has given me even MORE ideas of combining LH with different fiber arts.


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