Here's how to prepare your drop cloth for upholstery. Although the drop cloth trend is all over blog land and DIY shows/ magazines, I still learned it first from my fave, Miss Mustard Seed (love that girl).
Drop cloths are a fantastic fabric to use on re-upholstery for several reasons:
- They are CHEAP in price; my 6' x9' cloth cost about $10 from Home Depot
- The material is heavy, thick, and super durable
- The texture and color (post bleach) are beautiful with a "natural" feel
- If you mess up on your project you don't have to feel guilty about spending a ton of $ on a pricey fabric
- I love to have a neutral base color for the furniture piece so that you can change the look in any space quickly and inexpensively with accent pillows or throws
Here's what my drop cloth material looked like when I purchased it.
I'll be the first to admit that I was very skeptical when I first picked it up and thought Miss Mustard Seed must have a much better drop cloth variety at her local hardware store because mine definitely didn't look as pretty as hers all do on her chairs. Trust me, it really does look beautiful when finished. The texture is very rough initially and there will be a lot of different colored threads in the mix, along with a few nubbs in the fabric. These will all work to your advantage on the finished piece!
First, I bleached my material by mixing about 2 cups of bleach into a large sink full of hot water. If you have a top loading washer, I would suggest bleaching in there and allowing it to sit for several hours before running the whole cycle through.
I let this little mixture sit in my sink for several hours, stopping by for a quick "stir" every so often.
I'll take a quick second to put in my plug for large single basin sinks... I LOVE ours. We had one installed very apprehensively in our last apartment where we lived and never regretted it for one second. It was one of my first requests when we built our home and I love it. It's great for so many things (including bathing your babies). We love it!
After the fabric soaked for several hours, I very carefully transported the cloth in a laundry bucket to my front loading machine, where I washed the cloth on a hot cycle with another cup of bleach and my regular amount of detergent added to the load. Once that load was finished, I washed it once more without bleach or detergent, and added lots of fabric softener. Lastly, I dried the drop cloth with about 15 dryer sheets to soften the fabric.
I did my best to iron the fabric and spent quite a while doing this, but realized afterwards that it really was an unnecessary step. Because the fabric will be pulled very taut when stapling, you really don't need to iron. If you are using the material for a separate seat cushion cover or a slip cover that won't be stapled into place, I would highly recommend taking the extra time to iron.
As you remember from the first post, my frame was all ready to go and the foam had been cut. I failed to mention in the foam section of that post that I secured my foam in place, to the back piece of heavy cardboard using spray adhesive. This step isn't really mandatory but it certainly makes it easier to work with when you don't have to try and keep your foam held in the right place while you are also trying to hold and tug at your fabric. I have read from other bloggers that they staple their foam in place first. I personally don't think this is a great idea because you risk seeing the puckering between that space and where you staple your fabric in place, or you may be left with excess foam that needs to be trimmed, adding more thickness to the area that you will later try to cover up with your welting cord. I suggest that you glue your foam in place and staple around it, not through it.
Next, I cut out my batting and fabric using the original piece of fabric that I had saved as my template, adding approx 1 inch all around the perimeter.
and began pulling the batting and fabric (one at a time) through the inside back of my chair,
so that I was left with this:
Once I had the material and batting exactly where I wanted it, I began stapling using my fabulous pneumatic staple gun. If you are looking for one to purchase, the one I use is a pneumatic Porter Cable Crown Stapler (it cost about $80 at Home Depot). If you don't know what pneumatic means (like I didn't a year ago), it means it is operated by compressed air, and has to be attached to an air compressor. Our Porter Cable Air compressor cost about $100 (and included a few free tools like a nail gun and finishing nail gun). These two tools were by far one of our best investments (and one of my favorite birthday gifts). If you plan on doing upholstery projects, I cannot stress enough how much easier the pneumatic tools are to use than the hand held staplers or even the electric ones. They just don't even compare. Your hands will thank you.
When stapling your fabric and batting in place, you will want to always follow each staple with one directly across from the one prior, ensuring a snug pull. For example, I started with a staple at the top center of my chair,
Here's what it looked like in back as I began to staple:
Since I decided to leave the top wood exposed on this chair, I was able to determine my own pattern. I goofed a few times, so the staples that are above the line had to be carefully pried out after I was finished.
The next piece to go on was the outside back. In this case, I first stapled my batting in place (since it was a very snug fit with the batting I had left to work with), and then followed the batting with my fabric. This piece was easy peasy since there was no pulling through the chair. It was simply a matter of working in opposites and keeping a snug pull the same way I mentioned above.
Are we starting to see it come together? Hang in there for one more tutorial, and lastly we will learn how to achieve this fabulous bubbly seat cushion,
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