Monday, June 4, 2007

Floor Cloths~Part "A"

Hi, hope everyone had a great weekend. I was able to start on some painting projects that need to be finished soon!! One of the projects is a table runner. I make and offer floor cloths ( canvas rugs used on wood floors~ popular in the 18th century) on my website Pear Tree Primitives.

The table runner is made the same way as a floor cloth, the process is the same, just on a smaller scale, so I thought I would take you through the steps and perhaps inspire you to try one too!

(since I'm not quite done, I'm going to divide the steps into parts "A" and "B" and show you Part "B" later in the week)

  • Heavy weight canvas (they sell 10 weight at fabric stores, but 8 or lower is best. I've found heavy canvas at Fine Art supply stores). Michael's also sells a pre-primed canvas product by Fredrix©
  • Sponge and water
  • Yardstick, pencil
  • Plastic sheet
  • Lint brush
  • Paint brush
  • Primer
  • Sand paper
  • Acrylic Paint
Step 1~

First decide what size floor cloth you are making. I'm making a table runner that is 43" by 15".
If you are using the heavy canvas, you will need to measure your piece and add an extra inch and a half. The cloth will shrink and your hem will need to be about an inch, so keep that in mind as you measure.

Now the tricky part, find a flat area and lay out your piece onto a plastic sheet. Wet your sponge and wet your canvas. It's best to work from the middle out. This way there shouldn't be any creases...which you don't want!!! If you get a crease or wrinkle at this stage, you might as well start over. It's hard to get these out. Smaller ones like the table runner, I wet both sides...huge rugs, I just wet the front, but really get it wet! You are shrinking the canvas so that when you apply paint it doesn't shrink and buckle.
(I didn't take a photo of this.....kinda boring!)

Step 2~
After it is dry, you will use your ruler and measure an inch for the hem. Then crease this with an iron. At this point, if you did get a slight (not deep) wrinkle, you can iron it out as well. (Don't laugh at my ironing board's for crafts!)
Now sew your hem, mitering corners makes the piece lay flat when it is being used, and it looks better!

Step 3~
Now use the lint brush to remove any threads or fuzz from the cloth.
Depending on the intended purpose of the piece, you can give it a coat of primer before you base coat it. This also helps with a smooth application, especially if you are planning a faux finish as your base coat. Prime both sides, then dry. Lightly sand the sides and apply your base coat. (Didn't take a photo of this either)

Step 4~
I usually paint the backs of the floor cloths solid black. But for this one I painted it a taupe color. Two coats of color on the back, sanding in-between.
The base coat could be a simple solid color, or you could have fun and try a faux finish. Marbling looks beautiful on these floorcloths. For this one I sponged some taupe and varying shades of brown to give the background some depth.

(Don't tell my husband, but I used our house paint for this! A great and inexpensive way to buy paint for these projects is to look for returned paints at the hardware store...eggshell, flat or semi are fine.)

Step 5~
Have Fun! Now be creative and paint your design! I'll show photos of my design later this week, with the rest of the steps!


SweetAnnee said...

Oh Suzanne, how fun.. I'd love to make my own!!

Sylvia Anderson said...

Wonderful tutorial Suzanne! I have painted floorcloths before but mine were already primed and ready to go for me, so I had no idea how to make one from scratch! Oh, and my ironing board cover is worse than yours. ;)

Caitlin said...


You are one talented craftswoman!


Lorraine said...

It almost sounds like something I could do. Almost. But not really.

Mrs. G said...

I've wanted to make a floorcloth for years and just never have :)

maybe one of these'll be exciting to see how your runner works out :)

Rhoda said...

Hi, Suzanne, that looks like such an interesting project. I've seen floorcloths before, but not these. You make it look easy, but I bet it's not that easy. I'll come back & see the finished project.

Southern Hospitality

The Feathered Nest said...

I didn't know you made floorcloths? How did I miss that! I tried making one long ago. I was doing checkerboard pattern but like M.C.Escher. It nearly drove me out of my mind!
I can't wait to see what your completed runner will look like. You're so talented!


rosemary said...

Umm, hum...real easy Suzanne...umm, hum. I'll just eat a Mounds bar and watch while the rest of you girls get crafty.

Lana said...

What a great idea Suzanne! I'll be checking back to see the finished product.

You put a LOT of time in these floorcloths and they are beautiful!


Southern Heart said...

I love floorcloths (I first saw them on historic trips with my parents). You are so talented, and were very kind to share instructions with us, too!


Wendy said...

Thanks for the instructions Suzanne. I always wanted to try my hand at making a floor cloth for my house. Perhaps I'll give it a try now.

PAT said...

Suzanne, thank you so much! Not sure I could accomplish this! I've always loved floor cloths. Beautiful works of art.

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