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How To Choose Your Fabric

15th February 2019

Fabric is one of the make or break components in choosing your furniture, but do you really know how to choose the right fabric? If you said no, don’t worry we can help.

There are five main components to consider when choosing the right fabric for your furniture.

1. Intended use:

Where your furniture is located and the part it will play in your home can impact the choice of fabric to best suit you. A piece that will experience lower traffic can afford the more delicate fabrics, such as silk. But if your piece will be heavily used, such as the family room sofa, you may need to go for a more durable fabric to stand up to the trials of everyday life. So imagine the worst day your sofa might see and that will tell you if a more robust fabric or maybe an outdoor bench will be needed.

2. Weave:

The weave of even the most durable fabrics, can have a drastic effect on its suitability for certain pieces. A sofa that will be used often, or services as a comfy escape for the whole family and our furry friend will often survive the test of time if it has a tight weave. Loose weaved fabrics are at risk of pulling with little nails, little claws on little paws or even just unsuspecting rivets on your best jeans. So look for a nice tight weave to keep your sofa smooth and strong.

3. Rub- Count:

If you have been looking into custom furniture, you may have heard the term ‘rub-count’ being thrown about. All fabrics, especially those intended for upholstery, are submitted to a Martindale test to determine its rub-count. This means pretty much what it sounds like, the fabrics are rubbed continuously until they begin to show wear. The more rubs achieved, the stronger the fabric! A typical heavy duty rub count for a typical family room is about 15,000 rubs, and for commercial use where traffic is higher 30,000 is considered more than enough to withstand constant use. So if your fabric is over 30,000 rubs, even a stadium of spectators would have trouble wearing it down!

 

4. Composition and Lightfastness:

What components are used in the fabric, directly effects the lightfastness of the fabric so these two go hand in hand. Lightfastness refers to the degree to which the dye in the fabric can resist fading. Anything with a grade 1 is very poor in resisting the colour altering rays of the sun and a grade 8 is the upholstery equivalent of a good pair of Ray-bans against the UV attack. Certain fabrics are more likely to hit a better sun resistant grade than others. Polyester, for example, is widely utilised in upholstery due to its fade resistant qualities and high durability. Cotton can sit at any position of the lightfastness scale, it depends on the dye used in production. But if you have a fabric sitting anywhere between 5 and 8 on the scale, it should sit nicely beside any window or glass door with little issue.

 

5. Tones:

A fabric with different levels of tone can be the best ally in getting a fabric that will survive the trials of everyday use. Much like a marble or the soon to return terrazzo pattern, different levels of black or white in a grey fabric can give the eye so much to see that any small stains are then disguised. We often think of dark fabrics being safer and light fabrics telling the tales of spills past that we would rather hide, but often it isn’t this black and white (pun unintended but greatly welcomed). A light fabric will show up a lot of dark or strong coloured stains, but a dark fabric can display just as many sins. Light stains from melting ice cream drips or dreaded spilled milk can quickly make a lie out of your fool proof plot. This is why the most advisable choice is something mid-way, something that isn’t quite dark or light but sits safely in the middle. A multi-tonal effect will open this choice up for you. You can still bring that light bright finish to your room, just ensure there are levels of a darker tone to help give you some piece of mind with stubborn spills.

All the ‘technical’ stuff aside, don’t forget to look for the fabric that makes you happy. Think about the texture, tone or colour that draws your attention. Don’t forget, the whole point of custom furniture is to get your style, your way!