Upholstery Fabric Guide
The fabric of an upholstered piece is the most visible sign of quality and style. Upholstery fabric also is the part most likely to show wear and soil. When choosing upholstery, you should be aware of its durability, clean ability, and resistance to soil and fading.
How will your upholstered pieces be used in your home? Sofas, chairs, and ottomans receiving only moderate amounts of wear will do fine with a less durable fabric.
However, pieces subjected to daily heavy wear need to be covered in tough, durable, tightly woven fabrics.
Re-upholstery a piece of furniture can save you hundreds of dollars, but the process can be a little tricky. Below video will give you some guidelines how to suceed.
When purchasing upholstery fabric or upholstered furniture, be aware that the higher the thread count, the more tightly woven the fabric is, and the better it will wear. Thread count refers to the number of threads per square inch of fabric.
Linen: Linen is best suited for formal living rooms or adult areas because it soils and wrinkles easily. And, it won't withstand heavy wear. However, linen does resist pilling and fading. Soiled linen upholstery must be professionally cleaned to avoid shrinkage.
Leather: This tough material can be gently vacuumed, damp-wiped as needed, and cleaned with leather conditioner or saddle soap.
Cotton: This natural fiber provides good resistance to wear, fading, and pilling. It is less resistant to soil, wrinkling, and fire. Surface treatments and blending with other fibers often atone for these weaknesses. Durability and use depend on the weave and finish. Damask weaves are formal; canvas (duck and sailcloth) is more casual and more durable.
Wool: Sturdy and durable, wool and wool blends offer good resistance to pilling, fading, wrinkling, and soil. Generally, wool is blended with a synthetic fiber to make it easier to clean and to reduce the possibility of felting the fibers (causing them to bond together until they resemble felt). Blends can be spot-cleaned when necessary.
Cotton Blend: Depending on the weave, cotton blends can be sturdy, family-friendly fabrics. A stain-resistant finish should be applied for everyday use.
Vinyl: Easy-care and less expensive than leather, vinyls are ideal for busy family living and dining rooms. Durability depends on quality.
Silk: This delicate fabric is only suitable for adult areas, such as formal living rooms. It must be professionally cleaned if soiled.
Acetate: Developed as imitation silk, acetate can withstand mildew, pilling, and shrinking. However, it offers only fair resistance to soil and tends to wear, wrinkle, and fade in the sun. It's not a good choice for furniture that will get tough everyday use.
Acrylic: This synthetic fiber was developed as imitation wool. It resists wear, wrinkling, soiling, and fading. Low-quality acrylic may pill excessively in areas that receive high degrees of abrasion. High-quality acrylics are manufactured to pill significantly less.
Nylon: Rarely used alone, nylon is usually blended with other fibers to make it one of the strongest upholstery fabrics. Nylon is very resilient; in a blend, it helps eliminate the crushing of napped fabrics such as velvet. It doesn't readily soil or wrinkle, but it does tend to fade and pill.
Olefin: This is a good choice for furniture that will receive heavy wear. It has no pronounced weaknesses.
Polyester: Rarely used alone in upholstery, polyester is blended with other fibers to add wrinkle resistance, eliminate crushing of napped fabrics, and reduce fading. When blended with wool, polyester aggravates pilling problems.
Rayon: Developed as an imitation silk, linen, and cotton, rayon is durable. However, it wrinkles. Recent developments have made high-quality rayon very practical.
All the terms you need to know about upholstery.
Bias-cut: Cut from one corner of a fabric to the opposite, diagonal corner. Checks are often bias-cut to tweak their personality. Some fabrics will drape differently when cut on the bias, and this treatment can require substantially more yardage.
Colourway: The range of colours or colour combinations available for a specific fabric. The style of a print can change dramatically in different colourways.
Deck: The flat platform under an upholstered chair's seat cushion, usually covered in plain fabric. The deck should be firmly resilient, and you should not be able to feel the springs.
Fabric backing: The extra layer applied to certain fabrics, such as chenille, for upholstery applications. Without backing, they will stretch and sag. Look for fabrics marked "upholstery weight" or "all-purpose."
Gimp: A tightly woven fancy trim that resembles a braided ribbon. On upholstered furniture, gimp is most commonly used to conceal tacks where fabric meets an exposed wood frame.
Ground: The background color of a printed fabric. Depending on the density and scale of the pattern, the ground is not necessarily the dominant color.
Interlining: The fabric sewn between the inner foundation covering and the outer upholstery. It stabilizes lighter-weight upholstery fabrics and improves wear.
Pattern match: The layout of fabric pieces so that pattern flows unbroken across seams and cushions. Done well, seams will be nearly invisible. Large-scale patterns may require substantially more yardage.
Railroading: Cutting fabric on the cross grain, usually to avoid seams in large upholstered pieces. Fabric is also referred to as railroaded when the pattern runs horizontally off the bolt. Fabric with directional patters or pile (such as velvet) should not be railroaded.
Repeat: One complete cycle of a pattern in a fabric or wallpaper. A textile with a large repeat will require substantially more yardage to upholster a piece than a solid fabric, particularly when applied to a sofa.
Selvage: Tightly woven edges that prevent fabric from fraying on the roll. The selvage must be cut away for many fabrics to drape smoothly.
Tight-back: Having no loose or semiattached back cushions. This style of upholstery looks tailored but can be less comfortable for lounging and is harder to clean than loose cushions.
Up the roll: Applied to furniture with the pattern or pile running vertically and the fabric cut on the straight grain. The opposite is railroading, in which the fabric is run sideways.
Warp: The threads that run vertically in a length of fabric. Looms are strung with warp threads that are interwoven with weft threads.
Weft: The set of yarns running horizontally to and interlaced with the warp to produce a woven fabric. Also called filling.
Welting: A fabric-covered cord that is sewn into an upholstery seam. Welted edges define the silhouette of a piece of furniture and strengthen the seams. Patterned fabric is typically bias-cut for welting. Smooth welted seams are a sign of quality upholstery.