Fabric, Fabric and MORE Upholstery Fabric!!
Which one do you choose? How do I know if it will wear well? Is this upholstery fabric durable enough for my family room? What does a double rub mean? Colorfastness is another concern you need to think about. So many questions, so many colors, so many fibers. Yikes, where do you start?
Making the right fabric choice is sometimes tough. You really love a certain shade of green but the fabric says “light use”, will that work for reupholstering your chair?
When you start looking at or helping a client choose an upholstery fabric it is important to know how the piece will be used. Is this in a family room, a den, home office, the kitchen, a bedroom, all of this matters so you can choose a fabric that will stand the test of time. Using a light usage fabric in a family room or kitchen is obviously not a good choice. For these areas, you would want a fabric with a higher durability or double rub rating (think of the number of times you get in and out of a piece of furniture as rubs) a higher double rub count is going to wear better. Also, think of fabrics with delicate details such as an embroidered fabric which would not wear as well upholstered to a family room sofa but would be fine on a chair in the guest room. Greenhouse Fabrics has a great explanation of what double rubs mean and how to determine what is right for your upholstery project.
Will this fabric be ok for my chair upholstery project?
When we hear “polyester” we often times think of the slacks our grandmothers wore (I know I do). Get that image out of your head because today’s polyester makes some for a very lovely home interior and upholstery fabrics. Yes, they held up great but do I really want that on my upholstered furniture? Often times you will find polyester blended with another fabric content. Nylon is a synthetic fabric that has great strength but does tend to fade. Natural fibers are great and we all love the Green aspect of natural fibers. Linens have a tendency to wrinkle and stain more easily than some so typically not something I would suggest in an area where eating will occur. Cotton fabrics on their own or when blended with other fibers can be very durable. With a soil protected finish cotton can be used in higher traffic areas such as family rooms and kitchens. I prefer tighter weave fabrics for upholstery, especially with pets and kids. Often times a loose weave fabric will have a backing that helps it gain more strength.
We love a sunny day but sometimes our upholstered furniture does not. Have you noticed when you pick up a chair cushion and the zipper boxing is a totally different color than the rest of the chair?
When choosing a fabric for a room that gets a lot of direct sunlight you should consider using fabrics rated for outdoor use. Some of these fabrics are 100% solution dyed acrylic which means they have been dyed as a fiber before they are woven into a fabric. The other property these fibers have is that they are moisture and mildew resistant. Now you can see why these fabrics might be a good choice for a family room or an upholstered piece to be used in a high traffic area of your home. I hear people refer to these as Sunbrella Fabric but in actuality, Sunbrella is a brand name and not the name of the actual fabric much like Velcro is a brand name and the product is hook and loop tape. There are many outdoor fabric brands and also other fiber contents that can be used for outdoor. Greenhouse Fabric has a blog post that also talks about how to take care of these fabrics and other things to consider when selecting outdoor fabrics.
Whatever upholstery project you are working on be sure to know how the piece will be used. This way you can make an educated choice in your fabric selections. Most fabric companies have the fabrics labeled so you can easily see what the content and wearability is. When putting that much effort, time and money into upholstery you want to make sure your efforts will last. The old saying “You get what you pay for” is true and it applies here as well. Better quality costs more and in the end will be less expensive.
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Feel free to share your upholstery projects and fabric questions with me here in the comments below or in my Kim’s DIY Upholstery Hangout group on Facebook. If you are ready to learn more about upholstering I invite you to become a member of my upholstery family and join our online classes membership where we have these and many other great discussions and you can view over 60 upholstery, slipcover, and cushion video tutorials right online any time of day or night.
See you on the inside,
Thank you for the information about upholstery fabric, the blog is so informative.