Cushions Update

February Morning Sky

Time for a progress report on my cushions for the rattan sectional. I'm moving forward in baby steps. I haven't actually started any sewing yet because I first had to decide on a fabric choice. I'd considered an acrylic outdoor fabric, like Sunbrella, that would hold up well to the strong sunlight on my porch and be easy to keep clean. But because I don't have a lot of experience with zippered box cushion covers I was a little hesitant about cutting into expensive fabric. I was leaning towards a neutral color. Then I recalled seeing around blogland how people have used painter's drop cloths for slipcovers. They're readily available and inexpensive! Just what I wanted. So off to Walmart I went to pick up a 9x12 cloth for $20. I already had a new 6x9 at home which gives me plenty of fabric to work with for a total investment of $30. Not bad!

After pondering it for awhile I decided that I wasn't really crazy about the beige color, which is a bit darker than I prefer. A little Googling led me to a great tutorial about how to bleach drop cloths at Miss Mustard Seed. I followed her 3-step approach:

  1. Fill washer with hot water and 2 cups of chlorine bleach. Add the fabric and make sure it's completely submerged. I also agitated it for a minute to be sure the bleach was evenly mixed in. Let it soak for several hours. I let mine soak about 2-1/2 hours. At the end of the soaking period finish the rest of the wash cycle.
  2. Repeat the first step, this time using 2 cups of bleach plus laundry detergent. I let it soak for about another hour and finished that cycle.
  3. The last step is to run it through a regular wash cycle with detergent and 1 cup of hydrogen peroxide which will neutralize the bleach so it doesn't continue to break down the fibers. 

Afterwards I popped it into the dryer on high heat and was happy to find that the cloth did come out somewhat lighter, although still not as light as I'd really like, probably because I was too impatient. I can live with it though. I would have let it soak a bit longer but I was getting tired of the whole house smelling like bleach. The fabric softens up nicely, which will make it easier to work with. All my fabric didn't fit in one load so I still have to finish bleaching the rest and keep my fingers crossed that it comes out the same color. Don't expect it to bleach to a true white. Mine came out more of what I'd call "greige"... a creamy gray color. Again, the light (or lack thereof) doesn't allow me to get a decent picture, but I can assure you there is a difference. Oh, and while I was at it I also threw the zippers into the final wash to be sure they were preshrunk, just in case.
Bleach vs Unbleached
Next up, cutting and sewing. I hope I can get an assembly line process going with that. The idea of completing one cushion and then having five left to go is too daunting. With any luck I'll be back with  six finished covers by the beginning of next week.

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