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 making drop cloth slipcovers 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.
drop cloths are very stiff and dingy-looking right out of the package
how to bleach a drop cloth for a slipcover
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.
drop cloths are thick
Make sure you get heavy-duty needles and use a new one when you’re starting a drop cloth slipcover or 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 sorts of problems.
drop cloths do not ruffle well
Because drop cloths are on the thicker side, they are not easy to ruffle or add other dainty details. Their thickness is a benefit for hiding busy fabrics under a slipcover or for holding up well to daily use, but if you want a girly touch, pleats will be less frustrating. Trust me.
despite all of the bleaching, drop cloths will never be perfectly white
If you want a bright white slipcover, drop cloths will not be the best option for you. They end up being 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 cloth slipcovers.
drop cloth canvas will tear in a straight line
use the hemmed edges to your advantage
There are 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 when making drop cloth slipcovers. I used the hemmed edge for all of my dining room chair skirts. One less thing for me to sew!