Sunday, July 12, 2015

Another Chair, Another Slipcover? -- Drop Cloth Edition


You can rest easy, friends.  My living room seating crisis has been resolved by the addition of this little lady:

Not the child, silly.  The chair.

Apparently, it is a maple "rocker" though it doesn't rock in the least.

While scouting out the local furniture consignment store and bemoaning the number of ugly overpriced armchairs that populate the market, I came across this maple piece hanging out with a bunch of dining chairs and had an *aha!* moment:  What could be better in a crazy household like mine than a sturdy chair with nice clean-able wooden arms and only two cushion covers to throw into the washer?

Practicality incarnate.

It needed some updating though. The cushions were in perfect condition but the fabric would never do for my living room.


Enter the painter's drop cloth:


I'd heard about using drop cloths for all sorts of home decorating purposes and thought it would be fun to give the product a whirl on this very low risk project.  I chose the "heavy duty" 10 ounce, 6x9 foot version from Lowes for $13.95.

I honestly had no idea that painter's drop cloth is VERY soft and supple and loosely woven.  I always figured it would be thick, scratchy canvas.


Nope.  It's so nice on the skin, you could happily spend the afternoon jumping onto it wearing nothing but your diaper.

Or so I've heard. ;)


Do all drop cloths have a thick seam running right down the middle?  Mine certainly did and it took a bit of effort to figure out how to cut everything without crossing the seam.


Those angled strips you see in the last picture are for the piping.  I used 5/32" cotton piping cord from Hancock.  I have heard polyester piping cord is better because it doesn't shrink but it wasn't available in the store so I pre-washed my cotton cord to be safe.  (Note -- notions coupons DO NOT work on the piping.  I found that out the hard way.)


I am not a fan of sewing piping.  It is far too labor intensive for impatient people like me!  That being said, I recently discovered a sewing machine foot with a big groove in the bottom that fits nicely over the cording and makes the process a little less painful.



The girls were playing with fabric while I sewed and before I knew it, I was sharing space with a bunch of animals.


Anyway, have you ever used the method of sewing a zipper where you baste a seam, sew the zipper, and then rip out the seam stitches?



It works pretty well for those of us who don't want to pull out the iron for stuff like this :).

Overall the sewing went smoothly; however, I did make one big seam-ripper worthy mistake when I forgot to attach the zipper portion to the back side of the cushion top where the seam in the cording was located.


Probably an inconsequential mishap but I fixed it because I knew I'd think about it every single time I looked at the cushion.

Here is the finished bottom cushion cover:


For this project I decided to size the covers to go right over the original upholstery instead of replacing it.  That way I'd have double protection on the inner cushion and a usable chair when washing the new covers.

I am notorious for making things too snug and made a very conscious effort this time around to make the covers roomy enough to account for possible future shrinkage.


To create a better sense of proportion between this chair and my big gray armchair, I needed this chair to look bigger.  I decided the best way to do that was to add height and made the top cushion cover large enough to fit a 3" block of craft foam.


May I spare you pictures of constructing the top cushion and skip right to the finished chair?




(Oh bother.  I'm sorry for the crummy photography!)

I had a get-together today that require me to drag the recliner into the living room and I grabbed the opportunity to snap a picture of all three of the slipcovered chairs together.


Find out more about the recliner here. And the gray armchair in the last post, or here.

You know, I had this crazy idea for the drop cloth covers.  Wouldn't it look cool to dip them in dye to create an ombre effect with the deepest color in the back of the seat and the lightest portions in the front (by the knees) and the top (by the head)?  I don't have the guts to try it.  The drop cloth is unbleached so the look would be sort of earthy and organic and most likely amazing.

Somebody go try that and report back, 'kay?

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P.s.  I love to preach the good news of sewing AND saving money -- let me share with you the total cost of slipcovering those three chairs:

Gray armchair $60, recliner $85, wooden chair $30 = $175

Oh, and the original wooden chair was $59.99. = Final cost $90.

Like. new.
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P.s.s.  Check out the dye job on this slipcover two years later.


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