Thursday, March 31, 2011

Working With Drop Cloths

I love working with drop cloths!  I love that you can tear it in both directions to get a straight line.  I love that they are inexpensive, readily available, durable and have a great texture.  Admittedly, I have never used them to paint (fancy that!).  

I have received several emails asking about why and how I bleach my drop cloths before using them.  If a few people are curious, chances are there are a few others, so I decided it deserved a quick post :o)  

Drop cloths, when you buy them are very stiff and are a tan/beige color.  Just like with sewing project material, I wash it before I use it which leaves it much more "friendly" to work with.  In the picture below the drop cloth on the right is how it comes in the package from Home Depot (at least that is where I get mine).  On the left is a bleached drop cloth. 

I like to soak my drop cloth in a warm water bath with a couple cups of bleach for a few hours.  If you have a top loading washing machine you could soak it there, but since I don't, I use the laundry tub.  You have to make sure that all the fabric is under the water or you will get a blotchy result like this:

After a few hours, run a full wash cycle in the washing machine without soap.  I like to soak it again in bleach for a few hours, then when I wash it I use soap.  Often it will need another quick wash with soap to get rid of the lingering bleach smell.  Dry it in the dryer on a high heat and you are done!

Keep in mind that because drop cloths are cotton, they will shrink a bit and they will never iron completely smooth.  The subtle wrinkling is something I actually happen to like about the drop cloths and why I think they look great as pillows.   

One way of trying to minimize some of those little wrinkles is to remove it from the dryer before it is 100% dry and iron it straight away.  At any rate, be ready to embrace those little "flaws" and to work with them and you will be very happy with what you create!

- Kristin - 

PS  Oh, and be prepared for strings, lots and lots of strings :o)


  1. Thanks for the tips! Going to try this. :)

  2. I have recently started sewing with drop cloths and I love it! I love the texture and the durability plus they seem to go with anything! I found when ironing them if I use steam it helps to remove the wrinkles but I want to keep some of them so I don't really try all that hard to remove them. Thanks for sharing these tips and yes there are lots and lots of strings! lol

  3. Me too!, I've discovered thru blog-land that I love drop clothes. I've recovered an old iron bench, and stenciled right on the drop cloth,it was fun, now I'm thinking of re-covering and old chair.Love drop cloth.

  4. OK, I am going to try making something. I just have to figure out what. I'll let you know when I do!

  5. i appreciate this info! i have made a drop cloth shower curtain and wanted to make some pillows too but the texture is not inviting for anything other than decorative so maybe this process will help 'soften' them up a bit! love your projects!

  6. Hi there! Meagan from here. Just wanted to stop by and say congrats on winning Saturday Mornings Best of March contest! My mobile ended up 4th- but I voted for your pillow over and over, too. ;) I'm your newest follower and asked my followers to stop by and give you some love today, too. Congrats again.

  7. hiya , thanks for that tut. i am gonna try this bleaching technique and i'll see how i get on x i poped by to say CONGRATULATIONS on your win x it was well deserved fab cushion x tfs

  8. I'm unable to get my dropcloth to bleach to a whiter shade. I've put it through 2 cycles and a regular wash cycle with little luck. Maybe it's the drop cloth I'm using? What is the brand of your dropcloth and where do you purchase them?

  9. I meant to say two bleach cycles along with a regular wash cycle. Sorry

  10. thanks for the tips! can you really rip it in a straight line? I've made pillows and added a bottom third to store-bought panels with drop cloth - so cute. I just read that you can DYE it with dilute Annie Sloan Chalk Paint! trying that next!

  11. Hi. Is there a particular brand of drop cloth you prefer to use? Thanks!


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