I've been seeing some cool burlap projects (also called coffee sack, grain sack, or feed sack projects) in magazines (here), on blogs (here), and on Etsy (here).
These are just a few examples; you'll find tons of others with a quick on-line search, including about a ton of pillows, some in the $50 range and up. I've had a coffee sack hanging around the house for a few years now, and in fact, just dug it out of the spare room during the recent clean-out. It's possible I'm at the tail end of the New Depression trend on this one; I don't know. I still think it looks pretty graphic and cool. So I took an unattractive old cushion/pillow (also dredged up from the spare room) and stitched this nifty fitted cover for it.
Instructions: Find a cushion and a burlap sack. My coffee sack came from a local coffee shop. You can also find burlap (about $2 per yard)and stencil your own designs (here's a recent tutorial that explains that process).
Wash and dry it.
Cut apart your sack so that you're working with a single layer of burlap at a time. Iron it flat.
Place your cushion over the part of the coffee sack you'd like to feature on your new cushion cover. Cut around the cushion, leaving an extra inch of seam allowance.
If your cushion has a defined side, measure it. Add two inches for seam allowance (one inch for top, one for bottom).
Using your cushion as a guide, pin and sew the two short ends of this piece to form the sides of your cushion. Leave seam on the outside.
Smooth the piece cut for the top face down on the cushion, and pin to the side, making sure the cover is taut.
Remove and sew.
With seam allowance still on the outside, put the cover back on your cushion, and pin the back piece most of the way around, leaving enough of the seam open to remove your pillow.
Remove and stitch.
Reinforce all seams with a row or two of zig-zag.
Turn inside-out, iron, and place on your cushion. Hand-stitch the opening closed.
Of course, simple, rectangular or square pillows are easier. Just cut two same-size pieces, stitch right-sides together, insert pillow, and stitch closed. I have some of the coffee sack leftover, so I'm thinking that, when this room finally gets done, I'll make another one.