How to Use Canvas Painters’ Drop Cloths to Decorate–Everywhere!

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ten uses for canvas painters drop cloths


I was showing a neighbor through our house the other day, and it seemed like in almost every single room I mentioned, “…and I made that with canvas painters’ drop cloths.”    Then I thought about it later and realized that I’d written a post on almost every one of those projects; you can see them all {here}.

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Why do I love drop cloths?  Because they’re inexpensive, but thick, so they work great for sewing projects.  They’re also neutral in color and bleachable if you want to make them even lighter.  I buy mine {here} or the hardware store, but of course you can buy them elsewhere.  I’m just trying to keep continuity from one project to the next.

I decided to write a round-up post that shows all of my drop cloth tutorials and projects and links to the how-to’s, so you can see just how versatile they are.

Now, the collage at the top says “Ten Uses,” but it should really be ten projects, since several of them can be grouped together.

My Favorite Uses for Canvas Painters’ Dropcloths (click on the photo to be taken to the related post):

1.  Window treatments–yardage for window treatments can get expensive, and as often as we move, I need a cheap alternative.  I used dropcloths in our Nashville home to make a no-sew valance over my kitchen sink and a minimal sewing (straight lines only) set of drapes for my sliding glass door. Read the tutorial {here}; it’s so easy!

no sew valance canvas dropcloth



canvas painters dropcloth curtains


2.  Seat Covers and Reupholstery Projects

I used dropcloths to recover my nasty old dining room chairs, and also to recover the seats on my great-grandmother’s ladderback chairs.

chalk painted dining table chairs canvas drop cloths



stenciled numbered chair seat cushions drop cloths

3. Slipcovers–there’s a picture of a slipcover I sewed for my daughter’s chair in that collage, but you’ll never see it up close.  Slipcovers are tricky for people who are really bad at sewing (like me), but it was an ok first attempt as long as you don’t look at it too closely.  One project I did way better at was the slipcover I sewed for my dog’s GIANT crate.


dog crate slipcover canvas dropcloths

4.  Pillows (of course!)

I’ve done several fun pillow projects using dropcloths.  I usually just sew an envelope-style back so there’s only straight line sewing.  The edges of the dropcloths are already hemmed, which makes life so much easier.  I used dropcloths to make these house number pillows:

house number pillow painters drop cloths citrasolv


And I made these anniversary pillows for some dear friends:

anniversary date pillows drop cloths

These “Give Thanks” ones were terrific in November for Thanksgiving.


While I made this monogram pillow using spray paint (like the numbered seat cushion chairs above), I’d definitely make another one in the future using the Citrasolv technique I used for all of the other pillows.


monogrammed pillow

5.  Tablecloths

Dropcloths are great as tablecloths.  I have two leaves for my dining room table and sometimes I use none, or one, or both.  Have you noticed that tablecloths are expensive?  Most of them are ugly, too (personal opinion).  Then you worry that someone’s going to spill red wine on it at Thanksgiving and ruin it.  Since you can bleach a dropcloth, that’s not an issue.  Here’s my Thanksgiving table last year, with a dropcloth taking center stage.  Easy!

painters dropcloth tablecloth


Those are my favorite dropcloth ideas.  Let me know if you missed any, and please leave your favorite ideas below.

Thanks for stopping by!



  1. OK – all I want to do is run down to Home Depot RIGHT NOW, buy up all their canvas drop cloths and get started! Thanks Christy, for such a fun and inspired post!!

    • Awesome–tell them I sent you! 🙂

      • WARNING! Look them over as much as you can (the packages are somewhat shrink wrapped). I made curtains for our lanai and the very last drop cloth I opened had a seam running through the middle, horizontally. I bought another, with scrutiny, and GENTLY opened the package at the top, saving the inside product description. I folded the “seamed on up, as it was originally, and gently slipped it into the package and returned it!
        Also, if using indoors, I recommend washing them first. You will have to iron them, but they will shrink!

        • Yes and yes, Leigh Ann! I’ve had to return one dropcloth because of the seam down the middle–pretty good odds, but still SO annoying when you get home and realize you can’t do the project you wanted to do! And they do shrink–quite a bit, in my opinion, so if you ever want to wash the finished project, you should wash them ahead of time. Thanks for the tips for our readers!

  2. You make it seem like even I, could sew some of these projects. Guess I’ll have to give it a try. Great post!

  3. I love the dog crate idea, I never would have thought to cover it up. We have
    a huge one sitting in our living room, (husband’s idea) & I hate the sight of it.
    Thanks so much, you guys are all great and oh so talented:)

  4. I love the painters drop cloth idea. Way cheaper than buying fabric. My girlfriend is going to sew a slipcover for an ottoman that my little dog loves to perch on and look out the window. As it no longer matches our current decor the canvas is a great alternative. I am debating on bleaching it slightly and was wondering how you went about doing that? Straight bleach or detergent and bleach? Love all your decor it’s absolutely gorgeous!!!!

    • Thanks so much, Marsha! I would definitely mix your bleach with water, otherwise you’ll wind up with splash marks. Mix it up in the bathtub or the washing machine (if you have an older top loader that fills with water). Let them soak until you like the color. If you dry them and they’re still too dark, you can always bleach them again. Then wash them with detergent and fabric softener. Good luck!

  5. Love this! What font did you use for your “Give Thanks” pillows?

  6. I’ve never seen a drop cloth up close. Are the edges finished? When you used them as curtains, are they like sheers or are they thicker, not see through?

    • They’re pretty thick, Rebecca, and the edges are hemmed, so that makes it much easier to use it for projects. For my drapery panels, I simply sewed the tops over to make a pocket for the curtain rod–the rest was already finished. SO fast!

      • I have been using canvas drop cloths as movable walls in our house. When we built the house I did not want fixed walls, so it is a bit loft like.. I can close off rooms, or open them up. They also really knock down the cold air and drafts. I use metal conduit for the rods, my husband made wooden bracket mounts for the conduit to slide into. We cut bamboo into 1″ wide rings (we are bamboo growers) and I sewed them to the top of the drop cloth by hand with nylon heavy duty “thread”. The conduit was mounted so that I did not have to hem, they are the perfect height. The seam on the large panels are no problem when used as I use them. I have it going vertical.

  7. Love your ideas! But geez, I thought I was the only person in the world to resort to drop cloths to decorate my home! I bought the curtain rings with the clip on the bottom and just flipped the top over, pinched the fabric with the ring clips and made a ruffle hanging down the front….totally NO sew! Then I cut a 9’x12′ drop cloth into 3 pieces, each 3’x 12′ and pinned them to the top of my box spring, gathering as I went. My bed is on risers so I needed a 22″ bed skirt. I wasn’t going to spend $150 on one! So the drop cloth pieces being 3′ wide are plenty long to drape down the sides of my bed and puddle on the floor! Like you, I bleached the drop cloth a couple of times, then starched and ironed. For the bed skirt, one piece had a raw edge after cutting the pieces so I used Stitch Witchery iron on stuff to hem the one piece, So another NO sew “masterpiece”! Thanks for the new ideas…..can’t wait to make pillows as soon as I get a sewing machine for Christmas!

    • Great ideas, Lynn, especially the bed skirt. My bed is super-high, too, and I’m not thrilled with the bedskirt I have on there now, but like you said, who wants to spend $150 on a new one?! I’m definitely going to use a dropcloth for that–thanks for sharing!

  8. I recently watched a TV show where curtains were made out of drop cloths. They also had sewn on about 5-6 rows of lace at the top of the curtains. The lace was all different and the lace was cut from wedding dresses they had purchased from garage sales and resale shops. These curtains turned out so adorable.

  9. Hi there. I have the exact dining set and have been trying to figure out how to recover the chairs. I LOVE what you have done. Any DIY tips or instructions you might be willing to share? How did you get them so pretty??

  10. I have been struggling to find simple fabric to make slipcovers for my couch, chair and ottoman. I love the simple clean look (trying to get away from my over toile’d look). However money is tight for this project and this seems like the most economical way to perk up my living room. What brand would you suggest I use for my living room, which is also the tv room and entertaining room. What weight canvas works best for slipcovers. I just love your website and all of your ideas and suggestions.

    • Thanks so much, Kathryn! I buy my drop cloths at Home Depot and I think there’s only one brand, although there are a variety of sizes. I just select the best size for my project and then save the scraps for the next one. They do have a drop cloth that’s backed with plastic, and I avoid that kind. Otherwise, it’s hard to go wrong. Good luck!

  11. I was wondering if sewing drop cloths on my sewing machine will dull the needle because the drop cloth fabric is course.

    • It’s about the same as sewing denim, Laurie. I used one heavy-duty sewing needle to sew a slipcover for a chair and ottoman, plus the cording for both. That wasn’t too bad. You can usually tell when It’s time to change the needle, and I just make sure I have a new package on hand before I start a project. Hope that helps.

  12. OH, thank you thank you thank you!!!! I was just looking at my party tablecloths and thinking I have to get new ones for a large party. I’m having a party later this month and running to get drop cloths!!!!!!!!

    For dinner parties, I can put the lace tablecloth on top and no one will know the difference!

  13. Love your ideas with drop cloths. I Got the idea of using a drop cloth for a tablecloth from my aunt who is using one to make a grill cover. I bought a 9 x 12 dropcloth to cover my large round table on the screen porch. It’s too long on the 12 foot side. I’m thinking I should drape it on the table and then mark the bottom all the way around and cut it to the 102 inches I need but then I’d have to hem it again. Do you have any other suggestions?
    Note: the next smaller size 8 x 10, will be too short on the 8 foot side.

    • Nancy, I think to cut it to fit a circular table, you’ll have to hem it again. They fray so much when you wash them that i don’t think you have a choice. But maybe use a piece of string (52″ or so) and a pin to make a compass to trace the circle instead of marking it while on the table. You’ll get a more precise circle that way. Good luck!

  14. Hi Christy,
    Why didn’t I think of that??!!!
    I appreciate your suggestion. I’m sure it will save me a LOT of frustration.
    I plan to check the store again because the cloth I got does have a seam right down the middle.
    Thanks for your help and all the wonderful ideas from your followers.
    Best, Nancy

    • Happy to help. 🙂 Yes, you do have to check the drop cloths because every once in a while you do get one with that annoying seam in the center. They must not realize that we’re all using them for everything BUT painting!

  15. Hi Christy,
    I love the idea of giving my couch a new look. It is an ugly hunter green, with 2 huge pillows in the back. I’m thinking of tufting those 2 pillows and Draping my drop cloth. I am not a sewer. I was wondering about how soft this canvas can get, and if you can tell me if it will be uncomfortable, or rough to the skin? You have done some really awesome projects.

    • Debbie–if you wash it several times with bleach and fabric softener, it can get quite soft, considering that it’s canvas. Good luck with your project!

  16. Love you site & tips!
    What are you using for the monograms?
    Iron on? Sewing? Computer program?

  17. Can u show how to make slipcovers?

    • Ginger–You honestly wouldn’t want me to–I am a pretty bad seamstress! But Miss Mustard Seed has some great video tutorials on how to sew slipcovers–you should check them out. Good luck!

  18. Hi Christy, could you please tell me whether you use the 8-oz or 10-oz for the furniture? Not sure which I should buy. Thanks!

    • Niki–
      Eek! I wish I knew. I just grabbed one off the shelf at Home Depot and I don’t remember having any choices other than the size of the drop cloth. Heavier would last longer but be harder to sew, I would think.
      Good luck!

  19. Not anymore. They are hard to find and have gone up $$. All I can find is plastic ones and the others have doubled in price.

  20. I plan to use a home depot canvas drop cloth under my kitchen table and chairs when we move into an apartment that is covered in carpet, even the dinning area. With a toddler and baby, carpets are the worst!! So to remedy the situation an 8 x 11 canvas drop cloth is perfect because its $25 and washable and can be cut into any shape I need. So much less expensive then the under high chair plastic clothes from Baby R us that only cover a small area. Plus it blends right in with the carpet!! 🙂

  21. Hi, it looks like the quality has gone down on the drop clothes at home depot… i just read a lot of negative reviews.. any advice? thanks!

  22. Sue Ann Moore says

    Thank you for the info on drop cloths. I go to vintage shows twice a month and really wear out tablecloths w all the washing. Im thinking of using 9 x 12 drop clothes instead on each of my 6 foot tables. My question is what weight do you recommend. 8 oz or 10 oz. I want them durable but also attractive. Any suggestions?

    Sue Annie

    • I’m so sorry for the delay; it’s been a busy month as we’ve been moving. If you haven’t already bought them, I think the 8 oz. might hang better as a tablecloth because of the lighter weight. I love using mine as tablecloths so hope this will work out well for you!

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