I try not to get too engrossed in my blog analytics and all of the numbers, but it’s interesting sometimes to check them out…see what’s popular and what is most often pinned. One trend I’ve noticed is that my readers loved my drop cloth projects. I still get questions about which ones I use and how I bleached them. Well, I thought I would give an update on drop cloth slipcovers I made for a pair of wing chairs about five years ago…
These chairs have a great story. This is what they (and my family room) looked like when we first moved in…
Yes, they are the blue checked wing chairs. (Ha! I just noticed a bagel sandwich on the back of the sofa!) Anyway, the chairs were put up for sale by some friends at a yard sale and, believe it or not, they didn’t sell! So, I got them for free. I slipcovered them initially in some cotton twill, but the checks were visible underneath. I lived with those for a while, because we just didn’t have the money to replace them. I then saw drop cloths used as curtains or something and decided to try them as slipcovers.
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.)
I was even turning them into “grain sacks” in order to get the look I wanted at a price I could fit into my budget.
These drop cloth wing chairs have moved from the family room to the master bedroom…
…to the living room…
…and even almost made the cover of my first book, Inspired You.
With all of the furniture that’s come and gone in this house, these free chairs have managed to stick around. The slipcovers have survived two boys, who were 3 and 4 years old when they were first tied on, and multiple washings. The seats have a few stains on them, which is expected, and I have had to restitch a couple of the seams where I was a little skimpy with the allowance. All-in-all, they’ve held up remarkably well and have shown drop cloths to be a good option for slipcovering.
So, why am I always using antique hemp sheets and grain sacks now? I thought I would compare my former favorite fabric with my current favorite to answer that question.
Cost – When you compare drop cloths to antique hemp sheets, this isn’t even a real comparison. Drop cloths are the obvious choice when budget is a factor, and honestly, you can achieve almost the exact look with the cost-saving option that you get with something that’s harder to find and much more expensive. A check for drop cloths.
Durability – While both are durable fabrics, the hemp is thicker and has a tighter weave. If you’re planning to use the chair for 20 years, I’m not sure drop cloth is going to last that long. I can’t imagine the antique hemp fabric wearing out when used on upholstered pieces. Hemp also holds a better shape whereas drop cloth drapes and wrinkles more. Hemp gets a leg up.
Ease to work with – Dropcloth wins in this category when it comes to making slipcovers. If you have a run-of-the-mill sewing machine, it’s going to handle the lighter-weight drop cloth much better than the hemp. You really have to have a heavy-duty or upholstery machine to handle that. For upholstery, though, the lightweight and loose weave works against you. When you pull the fabric to get a smooth, tight fit, it rips right out of the staples. So, this one is a bit of a tie for me. It really depends on the project, your experience level, and your tools.
The final thing that puts hemp sheets over drop cloths for me is the intangible quality of using an old textile in your home. The texture is so beautiful and it’s hard for me to go back to the flatter, looser weave of the drop cloth. I also haven’t been able to find ones that are as nice as the ones I used to find. As you can see in the pictures, the fabric is soft, the color is a creamy white and no one would ever guess they are dropcloths. The ones I have found recently to use as actual drop cloths are much darker and they don’t feel as nice.
So, hemp is my preference now, but I’ll always have a soft spot for drop cloths and I certainly wouldn’t discount them for an upcoming project. I think my wing chairs support that nicely!