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)