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Tips On Making Slipcovers With Drop Cloths

I had no idea there would be such an interest in learning how to work with drop cloths in a home decor application, but several readers seemed very excited about it.  I aim to please, so here it is!

First of all, let me say that I was skeptical and hesitant to jump on the drop cloth bandwagon.  I have always made my slipcovers out of white cotton twill and you can purchase that for about $3.00/yard at Wal-Mart.  What finally pushed me to try the drop cloths was a pair of wing chairs I wanted to cover that had a high contrast blue and white plaid fabric and it showed through my usual twill.  I needed something that was a heavier weight.  The drop cloth was my cheapest option.

So, I went to Lowe’s and bought a couple of Finish Factor Canvas 8oz weight drop cloths.  They run anywhere from $5.00/piece for a small one up to about $30 for really, really big ones.  I’ve been purchasing the ones that run about $13.00.  It takes about 1 1/2 4’x 15′ to cover a wing chair with piping, pleats, and a “T” cushion.

So, here are the things I have learned along the way…
1.) Drop cloths are very stiff and dingy-looking right out of the package.  They at least need to be washed.
2.) How to bleach a drop cloth: I know it may sound silly to write out directions for how to bleach something, but I’ve tried several different ways and this is what is the easiest and most effective.  Put your drop cloth in your washing machine.  Start the regular wash cycle and allow the tub to fill with warm water.  Add a couple of cups of bleach and make sure the fabric is fully submerged.  Stop the cycle when the tub is full.  Close the lid and leave it for several hours.  Once it has soaked for a while, continue the cycle and allow it to run.  Repeat this entire process a second time, but add laundry soap in addition to the bleach.  Repeat this one last time, but only add laundry soap, no bleach.  Dry in the machine on high.  If you’re making a slipcover with this, you want it to be preshrunk, so that’s why you want to use warm water and a high drying heat.

3.) Drop cloths are thick.  Make sure you get heavy duty needles and use a new one when you’re starting a drop cloth sewing project.  I think I broke four needles on my wing chairs and one on my dining room chair slipcovers.  If you’re fighting with your machine (and it’s not the bobbin thread), try using a new needle.  When the needle is dull or slightly bent, you are going to have all kinds of problems.

4.) Because of the thickness of the fabric, drop cloths do not ruffle well.  If you want a girly touch, pleats will be less frustrating.  Trust me.

5.) Despite all of the bleaching, they will never be perfectly white.  They end up being a grayish off-white.  They also have a little bit of a nubby, rough texture and look slightly rumpled.  If you want something that looks perfectly white and crisp, you will not be happy with drop cloths.

6.) Drop cloth canvas will tear in a straight line, which is so handy for people like me, who don’t like measuring.  This means, if you want your pleated skirt to be four inches wide, you can make a small cut at the four inch mark and tear it the rest of the way.  The line will be perfectly straight.  A lot of home decor fabrics will do this as well, but not all, so be careful!
7.) And my last tip is to use the hemmed edges to your advantage.  You have four hemmed edges on each drop cloth, so use those for an edge you would need to hem anyway.  This saves tons of time and sewing.  I used the hemmed edge for all of my dining room chair skirts.  One less thing for me to sew!
So, are you ready to give drop cloths a try?
As a P.S., I wanted to answer a question I had about washing the painted slipcovers.  Acrylic paint will survive just fine in the wash.  It will get a little softer and slightly faded, but that only adds to the antique grain sack look.  I have not tried bleaching the fabric after it’s been painted, but I don’t think that will be an issue, either.

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  1. I'm going to try this. I hope I'm successful!

    Bernadette @

  2. I put a 4 x 12 in their own huge bins to bleach. I periodically swooshed and rearranged. Still they came out blotchy. What a shame.

    I'm wondering if it's best to wash these things first to get out any crap they may have to provide a clean porous slate for the bleach to penetrate.

    I got mine from sherwin Williams. They are the almond color type not the brown oatmeal type at home depot. I wonder if I can unblotch these.

  3. Yes. Mine came out all blotchy as well. I wanted to wash them first but I didn't. Just did the bleach soak. 2 drop cloths wasted. I did this in in big bins and felt I had plenty of water and periodically swooshed.

    I did notice the black spots more pronounced after bleaching also.

    I'm going to try just adding bleach to the front loader and make it run as long as it can. No actually Im not sure I want to waste another 13 bucks. Idk. I'm just so stunned the simplest thing didn't work for me.

  4. I have used drop cloths as drapes for several spots in my house & pool house…they are WONDERFUL & because of their thickness they block out the sun and heat…I love them!

    I've wanted to try a drop cloth clip cover for my couch & wanted to ask you…since this post is almost a year old, how have these held up for you?

    Thanks so much. :)


  5. This is great information. Do you know if anyone has done a slipcover for a small recliner? I think I can figure it out but would love to hear about the experience of someone who has done it!

    • Jeannie says:


      Did you ever get a reply? II would like to make slip covers for a recliner also and was wondering if you got any good information.


      • Adrienne & Jeannie, I have not made a slipcover for a recliner, but I know someone from another blog linked one up a long time ago to one of my furniture parties. It looked great! They made a separate slipcover for the leg pieces and attached them with Velcro to each section.

  6. Could you tell me where to find such drop clothes. I order 4 from an online store, and when I received them, they had seams down the middle which made them useless to me slipcovering my sofa. I called another online store and they said they also have seams. Do you recommend a brand or online shop or good old hardware store?

    Thanks in advance. I love the pictures and ideas.


  7. I'm toying with the idea of making drop cloth slipcovers for two chairs in my den. I will want to wash them periodically after they are made and I am wondering if they tend to unravel at the seams or get "stringy". I don't want to serge them, but I will if I have to.


  8. I thought I asked this question yesterday, but don't see it here

    I want to try a small project using drop cloths and was wondering if you use a drop cloth that is a blend of cotton/ Poly or do you stick to all cotton? Also is 10 oz. Weight going to be too heavy? Home depot does not seem to have 8 oz listed.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I love working/sewing with drop cloths, but my concern is their flameablitly(sp?). The drop cloths from home depot have a sticker on them that say they are flammable. Does washing them help?

  10. Dawn Beaver says:

    Hi — love, love, love your slipcover video series. I have painstakingly watched each one at least 10 times before and during my slipcover sewing! I think I know every word you say! Thanks so much for inspiring me and also to NOT have to be perfect. I fell like God is “birthing” something in my mind and heart for a career path and I’m quite excited. Quick question…I bleached four Finish Factor drop clothes for my project. Three turned out just fine, but one came out “blotchy” (of course, I noticed this AFTER it became the front of my wing chair…too late to change it now). I bleached the remaining fabric again for four hours and the blotches are still there. Have you ever experienced this? Maybe there was something on this fabric to begin with and I didn’t notice, but it doesn’t seem to come out! Oh well, no one else will probably even notice it…and I love a good throw hanging over the back of my chair :)

    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      I’m so glad these were helpful to you! Yes, I’ve had some issues with blochiness, but it’s normally very faint. I should update this, because I’ve stopped bleaching my dropcloths. It’s just too much work and it doesn’t change the fabric that much. It only lightens it a little. Anyway, I’m with you…a good throw and a pillow can cover a multitude of imperfections!

      • If you don’t bleach them now, do you do anything special with your drop cloths before making a slip cover. I am wanting to cover my couch and was wondering if I should or shouldn’t bleach it now?
        Thank you!

        • Miss Mustard Seed says:

          I just wash them to soften them up and go right to it!

        • Phyllis Zeringue Martin says:

          I divided mine at the seams, then I soaked them in the bathtub with lots of bleach until I had the color I liked. I then put them in the washer, one panel at a time and washed them in hot water and partially dried them in the dryer. Took them out when they were damp. I bought mine from Amazon and got the ones that came from India. I bought several as I have two large sofa’s. I did each piece ( arm, back, skirt, etc) separate so that I could wash one at a time if needed. Was a huge project but I am very pleased and may even do it again with a better fabric.

      • Melissa Williams says:

        I want to cover my leather couch with a slip cover. do you think a drop coth would be heavy enough to stop cat claws ?

      • Where do you get your drop cloths that are so much lighter than home depot and lowes? This picture is almond color but is much lighter.

  11. nice advice about the dropcloths! i, too, have used dropcloths for slipcovering and for floorcloths, and though they are wonderfully economical to use, they can be a big pain in the rear because of the dinginess and the unbelievable stiffness of the fabric. they’re so durable, though, that it’s well worth the trouble to use them. this would have been really helpful to me when i had first used them! wish i would have seen this post then! lovely slipcovers, by the way!

  12. I learned about you through I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog. Thank you for the great information!

  13. Annie Wood says:

    I have read several great sites on working with drop cloths, and your site is just super. I bought two drop cloths from Home Depot and have just finished all the steps with one of them, including adding the hydrogen peroxide in the last soak. I also used vinegar as a softener since I discovered at the last minute that I didn’t have laundry softener for the final rinse. I don’t currently have a dryer, so the drop cloth is hanging on the line to dry in the Arizona heat.

    I must say that the color looks essentially the same as the other one in the package I haven’t yet opened. I thought I had done something wrong–I even bought more bleach after the first soak and added an extra bleach soak step, with no whiter result. Anyway, I was grateful to read your note that the color didn’t change much for you either. That made me feel much less inept. I do feel that I should follow all the bleaching steps with the second cloth, though, just in case there is a slight variation otherwise. I’m detailing all this here just in case it helps someone else who is going to try using drop cloths too. Thank you for bringing us such excitement and pleasure in our craftworK!

  14. What great tips! Just posted about inexpensive sources for fabric (including dropcloths) and linked to this post.

  15. Erica says:

    Is it always necessary to bleach these? How do they look if you just wash without bleaching?

  16. Eileen says:

    Do you recommend any other brand other than Finish Factor? After looking at can’t find them?

  17. Patty G says:

    You inspired me to cover my 1950’s ctional with drop cloths. It was easier than reuphostering the whole thing and after stapling the bottom edge it almost looks like it was reupholstered.

  18. Marian the trick to getting drop cloths soft after belching them is o run them through with a genourous amount of fabric softener….. Vinegar is also a softener for the all naturale folks. Then toss it in the dryer with about 20 dryer sheets.

    Totally softens up the fabric.

  19. MaryB says:

    Thanks for all the tips and tutorials. I recently started recovering my two chairs (very large wing backs) Started small witht he T cushions. They have worked out great…. now on to the rest of the chairs! I have tried bleaching mine and to be honest they really haven’t got much lighter. Years ago I made pull on covers for my cane suite in the UK from natural canvas. Over the years of regular washing (in very hot water) they went very soft and white so this may be the case with these as well. If not, I can happily live with the light beige colour.

  20. charlotte mobley says:

    Would it help to use a large capacity washer at a laundromat to avoid blotching?

    • I think that a large top loading machine at a commercial laundromat would be helpful to avoid both blothching and wrinkling, and have found that a slow spin also helps avoid wrinkles that tend to get set in while in a hot dryer. We found one large enough to wash a slip to our queen size fold out sleeper sofa, but washed the cushion covers separately.

      Liquid bleach (which I seldom use) is usually added to the water, perhaps before the machine is completely filled, and well mixed in the water before the fabric is added. This would avoid having the bleach poured directly on the top, but not all, of the fabric, and might minimize the blotching.

      I would wash the cloths in hot water to eliminate any finish or additives to the fabric, then rewash with the bleach, and then rewash with a fabric softener if desired. I would dry them on hot in between washes. The more you wash and dry the fabric before fitting it to your furniture, the less shrinkage you will have when the slip is washed after completion. I would test painting on a swatch that had been washed or dried with a softener to be sure that it did not affect the ability of the paint to adhere.

      When the completed slipcovers are washed, they will be easier to put back on the chair or sofa if they are slightly damp, especially if they have been made to fit snugly. A seamstress who made my first set of slips taught me this; I don’t know if it is in the instructions – just found this fabulous site.

  21. charlotte mobley says:

    has anyone found a resource for cream or better white???? Not the “tweedy” ones or darker at Lowe’s or Home Depot…

  22. Vicki says:


    I followed the directions and my drop cloth became blotchy–is there anyway to get the blotches out?

    Thanks for any suggestions.


  23. Hi everyone, I’ve been trying to bleach dropcloths without much success. I think the main issue is that mine are a cotton/poly blend. Cotton is bleachable however the poly is the problem. Any tips?

  24. Hi Marian! I’m wondering if you can recommend another type of drop cloth? I checked at Lowe’s and didn’t see the Finish Factor Brand.


    • It seems that Lowes has dropped the Finish Factor brand! Didn’t they know they made perfect slipcovers? Anyway, I’ve started using hemp canvas fabric, which is about $11/yard, so it’s still inexpensive and durable.

      • Bethany says:

        I was wondering where you find hemp canvas for $11./yard? I haven’t found it that cheap before so need the scoop! Thanks!

  25. Meredith says:

    This process worked great for me! I turn on the washer, and wait for the agitator to start. Added the bleach and/or detergent, let it agitate for a minute, then pause the cycle to let it sit 3 hours. Not blotchy, but I also made sure everything was completely submerged.

    Question: does anyone know of a more earth friendly way to bleach fabrics effectively. My initial thought was “well, if I buy $100 stark white panels at West Elm, they’ve been bleached, just somewhere in a factory – the only difference is that I can’t see it.”

    However, after having used a half gallon of bleach for 1 curtain panel, it breaks my little tree-huggin’ heart to think of dumping 4 more gallons of bleach into our waterways for the rest of my panels (8).

    Does anyone have an idea for an alternative, or can pat me on the head and tell me that my bleach use is actually insignificant? How do those eco friendly companies that tout “bleach-free” do it? Or is everything in a world without bleach just oatmeal colored…

  26. Dorothy says:

    Of course, luck would have it that I have just found this website and I’m eager to make a slipcover only to discover that Lowe’s does not carry Finish Factor drop cloths anymore!!!! I am certain I’m not the only one looking for a terrific substitute.
    Can anyone recommend a readily available substitute other than the unidentified hemp fabric that Miss Mustard Seed has switched to? I need to shop on the internet if possible.
    Thanks for your help.

  27. Amanda says:

    what type of sewing machiene do you have? i noticed in a video you said you had it for a while…. i am looking for a new one. The one i have never works.

  28. Amanda says:

    sorry had a spelling mistake..
    what type of sewing machine do you have? i noticed in a video you said you had it for a while…. i am looking for a new one. The one i have never works.

    • I had a Kenmore model 385, which was about $150 when I bought it five or six years ago. I have never had it cleaned or tuned and I have used it to make countless slipcovers, pillows, curtains, etc. It’s done really well for a little, inexpensive machine. It’s still working, but I just upgraded to an upholstery machine.

  29. Nancy says:

    I need to cover a mid-century couch with something sturdy and I think I’ll try this. Has anyone ever tried dying a drop cloth cover? My dog will be sitting on it so white/beige won’t work for me. Also, I’ll probably buy the brand Lowes is selling at the moment. Any thoughts on this? Thanks.

    • Andrea says:

      Nancy, I haven’t tried making slip covers, but I buy the brand from Lowes all the time to make tablecloths. I haven’t had any problems with it. The only thing that I do is make sure to wash and dry on hot before I even think to make one cut in the fabric. This way I am sure that it won’t shrink when washed after that.

  30. I think that we should help a local enterprise by
    hiring a nearby ‘man & van’ to move our bulky items of furniture.

  31. You’ve inspired me and given me information that is truly helpful. I have seen and heard about drop cloth projects, but I haven’t tried any yet. I love the bleaching first idea. I’m pinning this one!

  32. As I write this I am soaking my drop cloth in the washer. Anxious to see how it works. I read some of the comments above where they said their’s turned out blotchy. On another blog I read that she bleached her in the bathtub and used more bleach. If mine turn out blotchy, I’m going to try that. Mine are also the 9 x 12 and 10 oz instead of 8 oz. May need to use more bleach. I am determined to make this work! Thanks for sharing your tips. I need to remember to get more needles.

  33. Arleen says:

    To those having problems with bleaching, this is what I did to get it done without blotches. I bought 12 x 15 feet drop cloths, cut them on the middle seam; filled up my tub halfway with warm/hot water; dumped half a gallon of bleach; swished around to mix; then – this is the time consuming part – dipped the dropcloths like an accordion in the water- making sure that the parts dipped are saturated (does that make sense?) then left it OVERNIGHT (ran the fan too because I hate the smell of bleach). Next morning washed it without detergent in warm and dried on high. It had some blothches so I repeat the process. Then washed with detergent/fabric softener and dried on high. No blotches! Took 2 days but worth it. Hope this helps someone =)

    • Thank you for this tip Arleen – I’ve had a lot in my tub all day and it’s still splotchy. So I’m doing the next batch with the accordion-like folds. AND I’ve also put a lot of glass vases in the tub with it… sounds weird I know, but they fill with water and act like weights so none of the fabric comes above the water line.

      Hoping this second batch comes out less splotchy. And that a second run of the first batch gets the splotches out.

    • Danica says:

      I am concerned about the seam. After you cut it up the middle on the seam, what size were your two panels then? I am considering making draperies.
      Thank you.

  34. Karen says:

    I have The Home Depot “Everbilt” 6×9 in my washing machine now. Little bit of soap and in the whites/hot cycle. I’m not going to bleach it thought. I’m going to dye it a light blue using Procion MX (Dharma Trading). I’m using these covers to redo the motorhome dinette and sofa. The weight of this fabric is perfect for us since we have dogs and it will hold up wonderfully and get softer (I hope!) with every wash. Great page and thanks for the tips!

    • Susan says:

      Can you please give us feedback on how the Procion Dyeing process went for your unbleached drop cloths?

  35. Annabelle says:

    I am in the process of making my first ever slipcover from dropcloth. I’m worried that it will unravel on the inside the first time I wash it. It is already fraying, and it would be an awful lot of work to hem all the inside parts! Any advice?

  36. Susan says:

    Has anyone tried just hanging washed dropcloths in the sun on a line? That’s what “sun-bleaching” is, right?

    How about spritzing with bleach after hanging them, using a sprayer bottle? The Chlorine fumes would evaporate outside instead of in the house?

  37. Susan says:

    Hi – I know this post is from a few years ago, but I’m hoping you’ll see my comment/question and can answer it. For the really big drop cloths, do you know if there are any seams running through them? I wanted to use one to paint some scenery and drop cloths are the only things I’ve found that are wide enough and heavy enough for my project. Seams running through them of course, would not be good. 😮 Thanks in advance for your input. Susan

  38. I love this tutorial and going to try it on my armless accent chairs. I got my drop clothes at Lowes, but my washer locks when it’s running a cycle, so I can’t stop it and open the door (front loader) and add bleach or pause it to let is soak. How should I go about bleaching my drop clothes?

  39. I am on step 2 with the soak of bleach and detergent however after step 1 my drop cloth looked absolutely the same. I am looking for a light color like the pictures above. Any suggestions?

  40. Melinda says:

    I’ve watched your slip cover tutorials and am excited to give it a try on my own furniture! My question is, when covering a sofa, do you design the back in the same way as the wing chair, with ties? Thanks!

  41. Lauren says:

    Hi! Thanks for the tutorial! I am in the process of bleaching my painters canvas…and here is what I discovered..for top loading he washing can unplug them and it will allow things to soak. I have a maytag and when I plug it back in, it starts where it left off. I tried to allow it to get to the washing cycle before I unplugged it. We also put the washer on a heavy duty extension cord so that I could easily plug and unplug it. Hope that helps those that were struggling with the blotchiness.


  1. […] I painted the furniture with one coat of paint and then distressed the edges by lightly sanding with steel wool and sand paper before applying a coat of clear wax to seal the finish. I recovered the seat cushions with painter’s drop cloth that I first bleached out and then painted with red stripes of acrylic craft paint to achieve a french grain sack look, which was all inspired by Miss Mustard Seed. […]

  2. […] down to it, the price was right and so was the color after I bleached it for a few hours following Miss Mustard Seed’s […]

  3. […] it wasn’t too difficult to do. To save on cost I used a drop cloth, which I bleached using Miss Mustard Seed’s method. I purchased a 12 x 15, but only used half for both of these chairs. That worked out perfectly […]

  4. […] much Googling and reading about Miss Mustard Seed‘s and Honey Bear Lane‘s slipcovers, I decided to use white canvas. Stay with me, I will […]

  5. […] Well, that started a whole thing between me and drop cloths.  They became my go-to fabric for all slipcover and upholstery projects.  (You can read my tips on using drop cloths for slipcovers HERE.) […]

  6. […] to yourself, “Duh, I knew that”. First, I washed and bleached the drop cloth using Miss Mustard Seed’s method.  It seemed to work very well and lightened it up ever so slightly. I draped the drop cloth over […]

  7. […] bought three and then I did a little research. My friend Marian at Miss Mustard Seed has a great tutorial on bleaching droploths. Be sure to check it out. I think my blog name should […]

  8. […] to bleach and wash your drop cloth so it’s a little lighter in color and not so stiff. I used this tutorial to bleach mine. After the drop cloth was dry, I traced the shape of my stockings with an old stocking I had in […]

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