Recover Ruined Outdoor Patio Cushions With Drop Cloths

3 Materials
2 Weeks

We live in Texas and the sun is BRUTAL on outdoor cushions and furniture. I needed several seating areas but had sticker shock at the cost of furniture, and chair/ pool lounger cushions. Being a frugalista, I knew I could buy used/DIY all the needed pieces for much less than the cost of one iron pool lounger.

Since we live in a hot state, there are ALWAYS reasonable outdoor sets on FB Marketplace. I bought four different sets including ornate iron pool loungers all for only $500. I spray-painted the metal chairs so they would all look the same except for the pool loungers. I liked them as they were. The cushions that came with the sets were another story!

**Before I get into the details, I would have done these differently if I were to do it again which I will explain as I go.

The cushions were mismatched, faded, ripped, and plain ugly but they were still thick and in good shape. After a good cleaning and steaming, I was ready to recover them

I wanted a light color since anything else will fade out quickly. I also wanted it to be cost-effective since I had so many cushions to sew. Outdoor upholstery fabric is not cheap but I would have chosen it if I only had 3-4 cushions to sew, but I had 24. I decided to use canvas drop cloths, they are large, plain, and can absorb fluid. I had some already, and Lowes had them on sale for $13 each. I bought 8 packages.

WASH THE DROP CLOTHS FIRST to shrink them and then iron them. After measuring all the cushions, I cut the fabric (it can be a mess to work with if you haven't sewn with it before) and left a 2" seam allowance so I could trim it if I needed. I did not take a photo of the cutting/sewing of the fabric. I pinned the pieces together and sewed them like a pillow case leaving the top open.

**In hindsight, I should have used velcro here so I could take them off to wash them, when I redo them I will add that.

At the top right of the pix you can see the fabric of the original pool loungers and next to it how I left the tops open to put the loungers in the sewn "case" leaving plenty of fabric at the top for adjustments.

Sewing the case and putting the lounger in it was the easy part. to close it I folded the top seams down and using a half-round needle I double stitched the top together going deep into the cushion using strong upholstery fabric and using small stitches.

This is the finished lounger. I did all of the chairs the exact same way cutting the fabric and leaving a 2" seam allowance. They were perfectly fine but so plain, this is where I made my BIGGEST mistake! I saw all the leftover trimmings and decided I wanted to make ruffles to put on them which should have been done before they were sewn when they were pinned together. ARRGH!

To make the ruffles, I folded cut fabric strips in half which made them 4.5 inches and folded the top .5 inches of the cut seam inside and ironed it down then pinned a fabric fold every 4 inches and sewed it making a long ruffle. for the pillows I used a 3-inch ruffle and did the same process.

On the 4 ornate iron loungers, I added a pretty lace trim from Hobby Lobby to the ruffle and then attached it using a double stitch so they would be a little different than the regular loungers. I did the same thing for the other sets but used brown cording that I made instead.

I wanted monograms but, I couldn't find large enough ones that I liked, so I made them using leftover fabric. I used 2 small plates of different sizes and traced around them with a brown marker. I used an H stencil for the center and used outdoor acrylic craft paint to paint it in. I double coated the letter in Modpodge using a small detail brush. I used the zigzag stitch on the machine and went around all the tracing twice. I used fabric glue to adhere them and also double-stitched the edges with the half-circle needle. They are far from perfect but still have the look I wanted.

**This was a late add-on that I didn't need to do and it added so much extra time. For extra durability, I should have just ordered them instead of painting them.

Adding the button detail and the throw pillows most of which I also made, gives it some color. I can always change out the pillows if I want to do a new hue.

We always use towels on the pool loungers when we swim which keeps them protected as well. Since this project took so long to do, I store all of the cushions when the weather is going to be too wet or dirty winds. The H's and cording will certainly fade but this will hold us over for a couple of summers.

By painting the sets the same and all with matching cushions they now look like one large set. This project took way longer than it should have, but I had the time and I was able to customize them the way I wanted. I am happy with the outcome. The price would certainly have been a LOT less if I didn't have so many cushions to cover.

I always like to create new things and this was a unique way to do an outdoor space on a budget.



Suggested materials:
  • Canvas drop cloths   (Lowes)
  • 2 yards brown fabric   (Walmart)
  • 6 spools lace trim   (Hobby Lobby)
Frequently asked questions
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  • Sheila Sheila on Jun 22, 2022

    Can you spray paint old outdoor cushions that have no tears?

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