This time of year we rarely leave the house without a cooler in hand. Between the fun festivities, summer socials and adventurous excursions icy cold beverages are a definite necessity – especially with the little guy in tow. Instead of settling for one of the typical red or blue deals – I decided to spice it up and create my own custom fabric covered cooler to carry around this season.
The possibilities are endless to customize your own fabric covered cooler and best of all it doesn’t require any precise crafting skills.
Single Fold Binding Tape
Polycrylic Protective Finish
Other supplies needed: scissors, brushes
When looking for a cooler for this project I wanted one with the smoothest outside finish I could find. I ended up choosing the Igloo Brand Island Breeze Cooler.
Most of the coolers I came across had a dimpling effect to the outside surfaces – which I really don’t think would work well for this particular project since the dimpling effect would create small air bubbles under the fabric. The surface of Igloo Island Breeze Cooler is super smooth – not to mention, I found the personal 9-quart size right at our local Walmart for under $10.
The amount of fabric needed will solely depend on the size of the cooler that is being covered. This personal 9-quart cooler took less than one yard of fabric.
The distressed zebra print came from the new pre-cut line of fabric from Michael’s. I also picked up a pack of single fold bias tape for the trim – it’s available in an array of different colors. Since the cut edge of the fabric tends to fray – the trim is used to give the edge a finished look. Any type of decorative trim can be used – like ric rac or even grosgrain ribbon.
Begin by cutting the fabric to size. The 44 inch fabric width worked perfectly for this particular personal cooler – as the 44 inches wrapped around the entire cooler in just once piece – leaving one seam. If a larger cooler is being used the fabric may need to be pieced together.
The fabric was laid out so the seam would be on the side of the cooler – as shown above. The top of the cooler was used as a guideline for top edge of the fabric and a 2-3 inch allowance was left on bottom. (note: the fabric does not have to line up perfectly with the top of the cooler as the decorative trim will finish that edge)
A personalized monogram decal was also added to the fabric – I made it by layering iron on decals cut with my digital cutter like I did for the cast iron handle covers.
Brush an even coat of decoupage medium onto one side of the cooler. I used Mod Podge Brand from Plaid in the matte finish.
Lay the fabric on top and gently smooth out any air bubbles.
Work your way around the entire cooler – one side at a time – until all of the sides are covered.
For the seam double over the edge of the fabric and seal with more decoupage.
For the bottom corners simply cut the fabric as shown above.
This cut alleviates the fabric bulking up and wrinkling.
Once cut, brush on more decoupage to glue the fabric down – then smooth flat with your fingertips. (Don’t worry about covering the entire bottom at this time as that will be taken care of below)
Again, working with one side of the cooler at a time – give each side a coat of decoupage medium – simply brushing it right on top of the fabric.
As you work your way around each side attach the decorative trim to the top edge…
and seal with more decoupage.
This layer of decoupage needs to dry to the touch before moving on the next side – about 15-20 minutes per side.
Once all of the sides are complete and dry – it’s time to finish the bottom.
Simply cut a piece of fabric to fit the bottom – brush on a layer of decoupage – smooth out the fabric and top with another coat of decoupage. Let dry.
At this point the entire cooler should be covered with fabric and one top coat of decoupage.
It needs one additional coat of decoupage applied to all of the sides, as well as the bottom.
Once that is completely dry – seal with a coat of polycrylic. I used Minwax Brand in the satin finish. The polycrylic finish adds another layer of protection against water damage and chipping.
Both the Mod Podge and the Polycrylic brands noted above dry crystal clear. (note the side seam on the left above – it’s there but sealed really well)
Such an easy way to add a touch of style and personality to your summer coolers.
With all of the fabulous fabric selections can you imagine the possibilities.
I’m definitely adding these fabric covered coolers to my list of summertime gift ideas. They are not only easy to put together but inexpensive – for a fully customized personalized gift.