I’ve been going a little crazy with canvas painter’s drop cloths lately, because they’re an inexpensive way to purchase a lot of yardage, and because they’re my favorite color–neutral!
I’ve used them for window treatments in my kitchen:
I’ve used them to recover some chairs that are currently in my office:
And I’ve used them to make LOTS of pillow slipcovers. One with a monogram:
One with our name and anniversary year on it:
And a super-cute 11 Magnolia Lane pillow for Amy and Terry’s Christmas presents:
Yes, I’ve been sewing up a storm! But my favorite ones to date are the ones I finished yesterday: slipcovers for my front porch pillows that sport our house number!
The UPS guy really has no excuse now, does he? 🙂
I’ve used several different techniques to transfer ink, or paint, onto the canvas, but for these I used the Citrasolv to transfer the ink. There are tons of tutorials out there on how to do this, but I thought I’d make it easy for some of you who have asked and just type it up for you here.
1. Wash and iron your fabric–if you’re using dropcloths, they do shrink so don’t skip this step! I have children and pets, so the whole point of slipcovers is that I can take them off and wash them.
2. Measure your pillow and cut the front of your slipcover an extra 1″ all the way around for the seam allowance. I usually sew slipcovers for pillows that I already have in my house, but of course you can buy pillow inserts very inexpensively if you’re making a gift.
3. Cut two flaps for an envelope-style back. I saved myself time by using the edges of the dropcloths for this–they are nicely hemmed. The two flaps should overlap by about 2-4″, depending on the size of the pillow. Be sure you cut them the extra 1″ on either side, too. Set the flaps aside for later.
4. Print your design as a mirror image. Depending on what kind of computer and printer you have and what program you use, this might involve commands like rotate, flip, mirror image, T-shirt image, etc. You’ll need to look that one up on your own. I actually had to print my numbers out normally, scan them, THEN flip them, then print them out again!
5. Find a copier that uses toner. Sorry, ink-jet and traditional laser printers don’t work with Citrasolv. This was the trickiest part of the project for me. I tried Staples, Office Max, and Office Depot, and none of their copiers worked. Older copiers are best, apparently. I tried the one at our public library and it works perfectly (you won’t know until you put the Citrasolv on it whether or not the ink will transfer).
6. Put a towel under your slipcover top, center the image, and tape it onto the top so it doesn’t wiggle around while you’re working on it.
7. Using a paintbrush, apply a generous amount of Citrasolv to the image. I used about a tablespoon for all four numbers. A note about Citrasolv: in my area, I bought my bottle at a local art supply store. I tried Wal-mart, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Hobby Lobby, Whole Foods, and Michael’s, all to no avail. If you don’t have an independent craft or art supply store, click HERE to order through our Amazon affiliate program.
You’ll probably only need the 8 oz. size (unless you fall in love with the smell, like I did, and start using it to clean your house!).
8. I gave the Citrasolv a few seconds to soak in, and then I took the bottom of a spoon and started rubbing the image (you’ll have to rub pretty hard; your goal is to transfer as much of the ink as possible so your image is clear and sharp). You’ll see the ink transfer to the fabric almost immediately if you peek, which of course I did after so many failed attempts with different copiers.
9. After a few careful peeks to make sure that you’ve rubbed enough to transfer all of the image, go ahead and remove the paper when you’re done. At this point, I allowed my pillow tops to dry. You could certainly launder and iron them again once they’ve dried–this technique is supposed to be colorfast.
10. Pin your pillow top with your two back envelope flaps that you cut earlier. You probably already know this, but pin the right sides together to make a fabric sandwich. On the bottom, put your pillow top (facing up), then your top envelope flap (right side DOWN), then your bottom envelope flap (also right side facing DOWN). Pin your edges together and it should look like this:
11. Sew all around the four sides, about 1/2″ in from the edge. This ensures that your slipcover will fit snugly, but not too snugly. Trim the corners so you’ll get a nice tip, and then press the seams open:
12. Turn the slipcover right-side-out, and press again. I usually use a pencil to push the corners into nice sharp tips. Slide (or force:) ) the pillow into the slipcover and adjust.
13. Stand back and admire your work!
Let me know if you have any questions, and please leave a comment if you have any creative pillow ideas.
**NOTE–be sure to read the first comment below from our reader, Jess, who has some great tips for setting the transfer and laundering your pillows. Thanks, Jess!**
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I’m new to your blog and I love your cushions! I make grain sack reproduction slipcovers using the citrasolv transfer method and have found that if you hot iron the transfer before laundering the “stain” is seared in and you get less fading after repeated laundering – since I sell mine, this is important for my clients. Also, I have two lovely but messy children and am not the type of mom who can maintain the “no eating on the couch” rule sooooo……… If they are washed in cold on the gentle cycle using a delicate detergent (no oxyclean or the like!) they will hold up beautifully! Just a tip, hope its helpful! X from Atelier be in Switzerland!
Jess–thank you so much for such great tips! I’m going to update the post and tell everyone to be sure to read your comment for proper care. Glad you stopped by and shared your expertise!
I’ve really enjoyed your site! However, I’m a newbie to the whole decorating thing. Since I’ve discovered Pintrest, I’ve been excited about decorating. If I can’t get the Citra Solv, is there anything else I could use? Also is there other fabrics that could be used for this? Again thanks for sharing your home to the world! It has encouraged me to do something with mine!lol
Hi, Tuesday–I would order the CitraSolv online if you can’t find it locally rather than experimenting to see if something else works. For $10, it’s just not worth the time and effort to find a substitute. Also, this should work on plenty of other fabrics–lots of people use flour sack towels. The fabric just needs to be light enough so that the graphic will show. Have fun!
Computer Slipcovers says
Thank you so much for the very nice post about slipcovers.
Tess S. says
Christy: Thank you for the posts on drop cloth projects, pillows and CitraSolv! I’m so excited to try it!!!
Have fun, Tess! 🙂
Hello! This looks so fun! I’m wondering about the specifics on sewing (I’m pretty new at this). Do you need a needle like you would use for sewing denim? What kind of thread works best? Like, quilting thread? Any other comments on the actual sewing process, with this particular kind of “fabric.” ?? Thanks!! 🙂
Heidi–the good news is that you really don’t have to do anything special. I used whatever needle and thread were already in my sewing machine. Now, if you were doing a whole bunch at once, it would make sense to get a heavy duty needle, but regular all-purpose thread works fine. It also sews together very easily. Just use the hem on the drop cloth and make it work for you so that you don’t have to finish any edges when you sew (see #3 above). Have fun!
Whole Foods carries Citrasolv.
Christy, I am curious about Citrasolv. I have never heard of this product or this process. I am sure it works beautifully for you and others, but would you tell us a little bit of why you use this process. I have a porch that needs sprucing up also and would not want my numbers or letters to fade away. Thank you for sharing your creative talents.
Thanks for writing. Citrasolv is a good option for those who don’t have a vinyl cutter to create iron-on text and graphics; it also provides the rustic look that so many people like, and it’s very inexpensive. If you’re trying to achieve a personalized look on a budget, it’s definitely a technique to try.
I hope that helps!
Wendy Pietri says
wow – really impressed. The citrasolv looks greasy? Does it leave a grease stain or residue if you accidentally get it on your drop cloth? Also, how do you know if a copier uses toner? Would that be something the owner of the copy machine would know? I have never heard of this process and was wondering how you got all your beautiful monogramming and lettering so perfect. Genius! one other question. I just purchased 6 drop cloths and was going to use them to make drapes in my bedroom. They are pretty stiff. will washing before sewing create permanent wrinkles? Can the drapes be steamed? I’m not about to iron (6) 6 foot by 9 foot drapes. lol.
Thanks so much for writing! Let me try to answer all of your questions. First, the Citrasolv is oily, but it’s citrus oil. There’s no residue left behind on the fabric after the transfer process (it evaporates). For the copier, I’d recommend that you ask someone who actually uses the copier. Ones that are toner-based are getting harder to find, which is why you’ll often find them in libraries or places that have older copiers. Last but not least, I washed my drop cloths before I made window treatments because they do shrink. I’m sure you can steam them since they’re washable.
I hope that helps–good luck with all of your projects!