Sturdy and inexpensive, canvas drop cloths are among the best raw materials in the budget decorator’s arsenal. With basic paint and sewing skills, you’re well on your way to whipping up these projects that give an entryway plenty of style without the designer price tag.

Drop cloth directors chair

Transform a director’s chair from plain to Oscar-worthy with a few snips, stitches and a fabric paint pen. You could personalize one for every star in your family.

What You’ll Need

  • Director’s chair
  • Pencil
  • Canvas cotton drop cloth
  • Scissors
  • Measuring tape
  • Sewing machine and matching thread
  • 3/16-inch Bubble Wrap
  • Toothpick
  • 1.5-inch-wide painter’s tape
  • Fabric paint pen in navy blue
  • Plastic drop cloth or other nonporous surface protection
  • Fabric paint in navy blue
  • Disposable plate
  • Small roller
  • Paper towels
Painted chair back

Remove existing back and seat from director’s chair. Measure dimensions, including seams and dowel/chair upright pockets for both pieces. With pencil, mark those measurements on drop cloth. With sewing machine, topstitch top and bottom hems, plus pockets for each piece.

Word pattern for directors chair

Type “sit” into your word processing program and select an appropriate font and size (ours is 450-point Century Schoolbook). Print out and trim around the word.

Lay printout on Bubble Wrap. With a sharp toothpick, punch small holes through the paper around the letters. Tape the printout onto front of chairback, centering it from side to side and top to bottom.

Transferred pattern for directors chair

Insert paint pen into each hole punched around the letters. Remove printout and outline the letters from dot to dot.

Outlined pattern on directors chair

You can fill in the letters, as we did, or leave the whole word just outlined.

Taped drop cloth chair seat

To paint the seat, tape fabric face up onto a protected work surface. Find center of fabric from side to side and measure 2 inches from center point for a 4-inch stripe from top to bottom. Use painter’s tape to mask the stripe. Measure 3 inches from the tape and mark the outer stripes on either side of the center stripe. Mask those edges with tape. Measure and mark a 1-inch-wide stripe from top to bottom and place tape along those outer edges.

Reassembled drop cloth chair

Pour paint onto plate and apply it to roller until saturated. Remove excess paint on paper towels. Roll paint onto fabric between tape lines. Reapply paint as needed but apply as uniformly as possible on the fabric. Let dry and remove tape.

Insert dowels in the seat and reassemble the chair.

Painted drop cloth rug

Wash and dry a heavy-duty drop cloth for this painted rug, then let your colors fly in whatever pattern pleases you.

What You’ll Need

  • Heavy-duty 6 x 9–foot canvas drop cloth
  • 2-sided carpet tape
  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Ruler and tailor’s chalk or pencil
  • Small disposable paint pans
  • Fabric paints in colors that coordinate with decor
  • Painter’s tape
  • Acrylic sealer such as Polycrylic
  • Rollers
Taped drop cloth rug

Wash and dry the canvas drop cloth. Turn the edge of the cloth under 1½ inches all the way around, securing with 2-sided tape.

Lay the canvas cloth on the plastic drop cloth on a flat surface. With a ruler and chalk, mark your block design onto the fabric and mark the colors to be applied to each block. Distribute the colors evenly around your fabric. With masking tape, outline the areas that will be painted your first color.

Drop cloth rug under chair

Add a different fabric paint color to each small pan. Thin with water. Dip a roller into your first color and apply to masked areas. Let dry completely. Remove tape and apply new tape to next color series of blocks. Continue until you’ve completed each series of color blocks.

Seal entire cloth with three coats of sealer, letting dry between coats.

Apron and tote bag

Six pieces cut from drop cloth come together to make a basic apron that gets a little personality from paint splatters leftover from the rug project.

Two more pieces form the tote bag, and a black fabric pen is all you’ll need to add your design.

What You’ll Need for One Apron

(Finished length from top of bib to hem:
33 inches)

  • 4 x 15–foot medium-weight (8-ounce) painter’s canvas
  • Fusible interfacing
  • Sewing machine and matching thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins and needles
  • Plastic drop cloth or other nonporous
  • work surface
  • Acrylic crafts paint and brush
Drop cloth apron paint detail

Cut the following pieces from canvas:

  • For waistband, cut two 21/2 x 25–inch pieces.
  • For bib, cut one 9 x 20–inch piece.
  • For skirt, cut one piece that measures 24 inches and is as wide as the canvas
  • along hemmed edge (48 inches).
  • For pockets, cut two 8 x 9–inch pieces.
  • For ties, cut two 5 x 30–inch pieces.
  • For neck strap, cut one 31/2 x 21–inch piece


From interfacing, cut two 21/2 x 25–inch pieces. Fuse interfacing to wrong side of one 21/2 x 25–inch waistband canvas piece.


Fold in half crosswise. With right sides facing, stitch together using a ½-inch seam allowance. Trim corners. Turn to right side. Press. Topstitch outer edge.

With bib sandwiched between two waistband pieces, matching the centers, stitch together along the length of waistband, using a ½-inch seam allowance.


Gather top edge of skirt. Matching center of skirt to center of front waistband, stitch, adjusting gathers and leaving ½-inch seam at end of waistband.


Double fold and stitch hem at top edge. Press under 1/2 inch along sides and bottom edge of pocket. Topstitch each pocket to skirt about 8 inches from center of skirt and 41/2 inches down.


Sew a hem on the 30-inch length. To make pointed end in tie, fold end in half with right sides facing. Stitch. Turn to right side. Press.

Pleat the raw edge of ties and sandwich between ends of waistbands; stitch. Turn to right side. Turn under raw edge of waistband facing and hand-stitch, encasing gathered edge of skirt.

For neck strap, press under ½ inch along sides. Press neckband in half lengthwise and topstitch. Adjust length of neckband as desired and topstitch to inside of bib. Working on protected work surface, use brush to splatter paint on apron until desired effect is achieved.

Painted drop cloth tote bag

What You’ll Need for One Tote Bag (Finished size: 18 x 18–inches)

  • 4 x 15–foot heavyweight (10-ounce) painter’s canvas
  • Sewing machine and matching thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins and needles
  • Pencil or tailor’s chalk
  • Fabric paint markers

For bag front and back, cut two 19 x 42–inch pieces from canvas.

For straps, cut two 31/2 x 27–inch pieces from canvas.

With right sides facing, stitch front and back piece along two long sides and bottom, using a ½-inch seam allowance.

Press seams open.

To box bottom, cut a 2 x 2–inch square from bottom corners. On each side, pinch fabric to match bottom seam to side seam (this will separate the front and back pieces so you will get a wide, flat bottom to your tote) and pin. Stitch across boxing with ½-inch seam allowance.

Turn bag to right side. Press. Turn top edge to inside and topstitch to hem.

For the straps, press under ½ inch along the long sides. Press straps in half lengthwise, with wrong sides facing.

Topstitch close to edge.

Center straps 5 inches in from side seams and stitch to inside hem of bag.

Using a pattern or drawing freehand with pencil or tailor’s chalk, draw design on bag’s front. Trace design with paint markers. Look for inspiration in online graphics sources or adult coloring books.

Photography by Chris Hennessey

© Caruth Studio