I’ve been feeling crafty lately. Even more so than usual, I should say. In our new home, I have the luxury of having space for a sewing room. It is dubbed the “Creativity Room” by a friend, so I’m going with that!
One of the problems with my new space is the UGLY ceiling. It is one of those drop ceilings that are often in basements. (Yes, my Creativity Room is in the basement). Not only is it ugly when brand new, it is even uglier when it is old. Mine is also grimy and yellowed. I thought about replacing the tiles with new ones but money is a bit tight now (with the move and all!). I also thought about just painting them white or something. Nah, too much work!
Then I realized — I have yards and yards of fabric! What if I covered those ugly tiles with fabric that I like (but not LOVE, of course, that fabric must be saved for possible quilt projects).
The question though, was HOW to attach the fabric to the those awful tiles.
I talked it over with my daughter and we decided to try starch. I remembered reading somewhere that it was possible to use starch to make fabric stick to walls, and we thought it might work on fabric and the tiles. Long story, short: It didn’t. We couldn’t mix the starch thickly enough that it would stick and then dry without having the fabric fall off once it was back on the ceiling.
Hmmmmm. I wondered about Mod Podge or maybe some sort of adhesive. We considered duct tape, but we thought the fabric would sag in the middle. Finally I decided to try Aleene’s Tacky Glue. This seemed to do the job!
1. Buy a house with an ugly dropped ceiling with old, grungy, yellowed insulated tiles.
2. Be a quilter who has a humongous fabric stash (or know one). Alternatively you could visit a fabric store and buy a bunch of fabric on sale. Goodwill or Thrift stores could be a source for fabric, too, if you think creatively.
3. Gather a pair a scissors, an iron and ironing board, some Aleene’s Tacky Glue, a large work surface and a tall person (or be one). A very long needle is helpful, too. You’ll see why later. Having a kitten underfoot is not mandatory, but it does make things more annoying. Oops. I meant “exciting.”
4. Remove one of the old, grungy, yellowed insulated tiles. Lay it out on your work surface with the plastic side up (insulation down).
5. Choose a piece of fabric that is large enough to cover your tile. (If you are a fan of crazy quilts, you could, of course, use smaller pieces of fabric and make each tile a collage — but I didn’t do that).
6. Measure along the longest edge (by eye is fine), hold the spot, make a snip with some scissors, and then tear the fabric.
You might not need to tear it all the way across so don’t go crazy with the tearing (unless you don’t care about wasting fabric then tear away). When you think you’ve torn about the width of the tile — check it to see. Again do this by eye. Make a snip going the other direction and then tear away.
This time you can tear the whole thing because you should be heading back toward the edge where you started measuring. You’ll end up with a rectangle about the size of your tile. I gave a little leeway on the fabric on each wide — about 1/4 to 1/2 inch on each side or so. You can cut it exactly, but this is my project and that isn’t my style. I won’t judge you though, if you have a streak of persnicketiness and/or perfectionism. (You probably don’t or you would have stopped reading by now.)
But I digress.
7. The next steps need to be done, but it doesn’t matter which order you do them in. Iron, Glue, Apply. You need to iron the fabric and you need to apply glue to the plastic side of the tile. I’ve done it glue then iron then apply the fabric to the tile. I’ve done it iron then glue then apply the fabric. It works either way.
Ironing: Most of my fabric has been stored in bins for years, even decades (not kidding) — so it needs to be ironed. I like to use steam and some spray starch. I like Mary Ellen’s Best Press.
Glue: Cut the top off the glue like you mean it. No little hole for you! You need to let that glue pour. Apply a stream of glue around the edge pretty thoroughly. Then I wiggled it around everywhere covering the surface with squares and zig-zags and squiggles. I also experimented with pouring a glob of glue on the tile and brushing it around with a square of cardboard. (You could use a brush, but I didn’t want to go find one).
Apply the fabric: This part is easier if you still have help from your tall person/daughter/random person but I managed it alone for most of my project. Hold your nicely ironed fabric close to one side or edge of the glued tile. Place it gently on the glue, pretty side UP away from the glue and smooth it carefully from the center. You can adjust the edges and even lift the whole thing and re-position it if you do it quickly enough. If you have massive amounts of fabric hanging off an edge feel free to trim it off. I found most of the small excess fabric I had folded nicely up into the metal frame.
8. When you are satisfied that your fabric covered tile is ready to go back up into the ceiling (no wrinkles, etc.), carefully flip it upside down and maneuver it back into the space it came from. I did one tile at a time after I discovered that, at least in my ceiling, not all the tiles were the same size even though they looked the same.
If you can’t get the tile to lie flat again, this is where the long needle is helpful. I had a doll needle that is hugely long. It is used for sewing eyes and sometimes limbs onto dolls. I poked it into the insulated tile and pulled gently down at a slight angle and it worked!
I’m trying to decide if I should paint the metal frame black or possibly cover it with some sort of black tape. (The tape idea sounds easier to me than painting all those little frames).
I’m thrilled with how my ceiling is turning out. I have just about six squares left. I am planning to paint and do some other decorating before I show photos of the whole room. I will keep you posted.