Quilts on the floor!

This blog entry has nothing to do with quilting, or maybe it does... You  decide after you read the "How To".  I got this idea from a friend who has a very clever sister. I'm going to show you how simple it is to make a floor cloth. You're probably thinking the Colonial floor cloths that were labor intensive made with heavy canvas and required numerous steps, creativity, patience, hemming... Well just stick with me and I'll show you what my problem was and how I solved it.

I had this area, and wanted to protect the wood floor, because the kitchen is always a major traffic area, especially when it leads to the laundry room. Plus it was an irregular shape with the sink and stove top cabinets extending out more that the other cabinets.

So, I used this...  Yep, that's just cheap vinyl flooring!

And accomplished this by flipping the vinyl over and painting the other side!

Ha! You don't believe me?... You want proof?  Well, check it out...

(Just so you'll know, I put the Rubber Maid shelf lining under the floor cloth so that it wouldn't slip and slide.)
This floor cloth is much easier than what they had to do in Colonial times or what crafters do today when painting canvas floor cloths.

First, I went to a big box store like Lowes or Home Depot,  and bought a large hunk of vinyl flooring.  Next I turned it over - and painted the back side, and decorated it with a stencil or two!!! Yep... that's all there was to it. The back side of vinyl flooring is a paper like substance that is perfect for painting.

Whoa, hold on a minute, I was just at Lowes and bought a remnant for $10, thinking I'd just make another floor cloth to use as this demonstration. When I got my bargain home I was dumbfounded to find a surface that can't be painted... look at the picture and you will see that the back side of this "higher priced" vinyl flooring is actually a rubber backing that paint will not adhere to and will not accomplish the effect we want. Moral to the story - check to make sure the back of the "cheap vinyl" is a paper like surface that will readily accept and absorb paint.

So, here's what you do:
Wait a minute - Before we start, I want to preface this by saying I'm not a stenciling or Tolle painting instructor. I am me, a self taught crafty person. I am supplying you with the basic instructions for doing a floor cloth. You will take what you know or learn from a credited source to decorate it. 
Okay,  we can start now.
    • First you need a work area where you can make a mess and leave it alone for a few days and not have to deal with wind, bugs or kids. The garage is ideal. Park your car outside and work inside. When I made my big floor cloth the room over the garage had not been finished. That was the perfect place. I worked away on the subfloor and didn't care if paint got splattered. That room is now my sewing room!   For this lesson,  I'm demonstrating in my kitchen/dining area using the dining table and using a small scrap of vinyl since my bargain was a no go.
      • I made a paper pattern of the shape I wanted so that it would fit around my cabinets. Notice in the picture that I am making a pattern for a floor cloth at the door coming in from the patio. That is a traffic area that can be wet, dirty, dusty, cat hair... you get it... traffic grime. (Ha, I hadn't discovered the back of the bargain vinyl yet!)  You can do a simple  rectange, oval, circle, square... well, any shape you want works. I just wanted a custom fit. REMEMBER... The back of the vinyl piece is the side that you are going to paint and see. The actual vinyl floor patterned side is the WRONG side. We are going to paint the back side and love it!

      • Next, cut the vinyl with strong scissors to make the basic shape.  Lay your paper pattern on the vinyl and traced around the pattern. (Since the fabulous deal I got at Lowes turned out to be the wrong kind of vinyl, I'm going to demonstrate on a small piece.)  Do a final cut using an OLD rotary cutter with the mat underneath. I wanted a perfect straight edge so I just slid the mat under the vinyl and cut and slid my way along the marks from my pattern using my quilting straight edge.  For my big floor cloth, I was on my knees sliding the mat and doing the cutting on the floor. Knee protectors would have been a good thing.

      • Next comes the first coat of paint. I used the left over latex wall paint from our house. I painted the  whole floor cloth  and let it dry over night. Latex wall paint is durable and strong and works fine, plus latex paint is not only durable, but can be gently bent without cracking. You can roll or brush the paint on. You need to do 2 coats for both good coverage and as another layer of protection for your floor cloth.  The picture shows me painting the small 'example' floor cloth the light sage green that is on my kitchen walls. You want to be sure and paint the edges also.
      • When making my big kitchen floor cloth, I wanted to lightly faux paint the straw colored paint before I added the border. I took the dark green that was also the border paint; mixed it with a glaze, and dabbed it on with a big sponge... *This was my technique! I'm clueless on how to OFFICIALLY do Faux Painting CORRECTLY. Talk with people at your local paint or craft stores to get clear directions. The picture shows a sample of the faux painting I practiced before doing the big kitchen floor cloth. I also used the same scrap to practice the stenciling I was going to use.

      • I measured for the border by carefully putting light pencil marks on the dried painted surface. I ran masking along the lines and made sure it was straight, and secured to the surface before starting to paint. As you can see from my example,  I used my quilting straight edge to draw the lines. 

      The dark green paint is a semi gloss latex wall paint. It matches several furniture items in the room and is a good accent color. I painted two coats and let it thoroughly dry before removing the tape. 

      Now you get to learn a lesson that I had to learn the hard way... See that purple masking tape? It is the same tape I used on the big floor cloth that was made 4 years ago... Masking tape actually has a shelf life! Did you know that? I didn't. Take a look at how the paint was able to creep under the tape even though I made sure to securely press it into place. 
      Moral to the story: Tape is cheap, buy a fresh roll when doing a big project!  

      • The picture above also shows how I started to play with stencils. Whether you are stenciling or painting a design/picture, you need to practice on painted scraps. You've got to get the feel of how the brushes are going to interact with the painted surface. 
      The pictures below show you where I got my inspiration. It's my friend Kate's kitchen. Her sister painted these beautiful floor cloths and custom cut them to exactly fit the space. Kate went to a rug dealer and bought a non slip rug liner that she could easily cut to put under the vinyl floor cloths.

        Check out this close-up. Linda, the talented sister, hand painted the apples and also did a faux paint in the background and the border. So beautiful!  Kate recently reapplied 2 polyurethane high gloss coats to her floor cloths. I plan to redo mine this fall when our humid weather is gone. My floor cloth is a semi-gloss. It's a personal choice and entirely up to you to choose the effect you want. I love it both ways.

        Here you can easily compare artistic painting vs stenciling... I'm not an artist, but I can stencil and come up with a similar effect. Please remember, I'm not a professional stenciler. I'm merely sharing what I did. I used regular craft acrylic paint and a stencil brush. I love the illusion of the metallic copper color in the words and line border. I also got brave and mixed greens and the copper to do the grape leaves. 
        You just do your own thing and it will be perfect for your area!

        • You're at the final step. When your floor cloth looks just the way you want, all the painting/stenciling is completed... You need to seal and protect it. Use a clear liquid polyurethane that you brush on. Two of the  main brands are MinWax and  Varathane. They all come in Gloss, Semi-Gloss, and Satin finishes. There are spray on polyurethanes, but you just are not going to get the coverage and protection you want and need. Applying the polyurethane needs to be done in a well ventilated, dust free area. The garage is perfect as long as it's dust and bug free. Probably you will need to sweet out your garage and do the painting at night when no one is around. Remember... at least 3 coats.
        • Cleaning the floor cloth is simple...  vacuum and then use a damp mop. Wow, that could wear a girl out!
        Before starting this blog entry I "Googled" floor cloths to see what was out there. Well, there's a lot, and there's also a lot of very clever floor cloth artists. Lots of great ideas for shapes and colors.
        But, think about this for a moment... How about painting actual quilt blocks on your floor cloth. You could also use all those stamps from scrap booking ... Once you have the base color and border on your floor cloth you can let your imagination go wild. What... if your decoration doesn't turn out great? Who cares... just paint over it with your base color and start again. Who's gonna' know?? 
        I can't wait to see what you come up with. I can see your creative juices kicking in right now. You're tired of that old kitchen sink rug, aren't you. Get creative and have fun!
        Me? I'm heading back to Lowes to return that vinyl and get what I want. Then the floor cloth by the patio door is going to get underway!

        Stay creative, have fun, and keep stitchin' for the ones you love!
        Hugs from Mary


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