Tie Cotton Swabs Together for This Outdoor Seating Update

6 Materials
1 Day

I love the soft look of watercolor, don't you? These chair cushions are NOT watercolor; they are just faded and moldy - yuk! They needed to be recovered and given a new life. Watch the video below to see how I did it with cotton swabs!

I purchased a white, king, flat bed sheet from Walmart for this project. Watch the video below to see how I brought these seats back to life!

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Isn't that gorgeous? And it's so quick and easy. Everyone in my family loves our outdoor seating now. It feels so fresh and new, but the revamp cost almost nothing! To see the detailed step-by-step process, look below.

Step-by-step Instructions:
Begin by removing the old covers from the cushions. You will use the old covers as a template for the new covers.
After you've washed (without fabric softener) and dried your fabric (bedsheet), lay it out double sided and place the old cushion cover on top.
Using chalk, trace the outside edge of the old cushion cover on one half. Cut that half out.
To assure an even shape, fold the cut half over and trace and cut out the remainder of the fabric (bedsheet).
For the paint, I used tube watercolor instead of cakes. Tubes will give you a consistent color overall.
Add a small amount into a container.
Add three times as much fabric medium and mix together.
Add water and mix again. The more water you add, the lighter the color.
For my project, instead of a paint brush, I used cotton swabs.
For a bigger impact, I rubber banded approximately 20 swabs together. I used this bundle for my main color.
I made two smaller bundles for my two accent colors.
Cover your surface with an old towel and then placed two layers of paper toweling over the old towel.
Place your fabric (bedsheet), single sided, on top of the toweling.

(I didn't use plastic because it doesn't absorb the water, thereby making the fabric very wet which causes the colors to run into each other more than I wanted them to.)
Dip the bunches of cotton swabs into the watercolor and apply it to the fabric.
The longer you allow the cotton swabs to be in contact with the fabric, the more paint will be applied to the fabric resulting in a larger area of color.
I also used individual cotton swabs for small spots of color.
When you've completed your design (it's very hard to stop :), hang your fabric to dry.
When the fabric is dry, lay a cloth over the fabric and press it with a hot iron. This will seal the color onto the fabric.

In case you missed it, check how this update turned out in the video above!

Suggested materials:

  • Watercolor paints in a tube  (ACMoore)
  • Fabric Medium  (JoAnn Fabric)
  • Flat Bed Sheet in white  (Walmart)
See all materials

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1 comment
  • Mary Hay
    on Aug 13, 2020

    Fantastic idea! This technique is JUST what I was looking for! I am going to try this out on watercolor paper for a grouping of large "coastal abstract" paintings. I'm gluing grass paper to the wide boarder of frames so your q-tip concept will look really pretty. Wish I could sew well, I'd try the cushions. THANKS!

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