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Essential Tips on Choosing Fabric FREE Help & Advice

Choosing Fabrics: Upholstery

Making a house a home is all about the finishing touches, the decorating, the furnishings and stamping your style on your property. Fabrics can help transform a room into an area that is warm, vibrant and liveable and they are an important part of any living room and bedroom. When choosing fabrics to upholster your furniture or produce cushions or throws you should consider more than just the colour and pattern as the fabric material could have a bearing on its suitability for the intended purpose.

What should I consider when choosing a fabric style and colour?

When buying fabrics think carefully about its purpose and the room in which it will be, often it is easy to get carried away in the shop and take things out of context, so take your time when choosing and get samples to take home before buying large quantities of fabric. If you are upholstering a piece of furniture consider the style of the furniture and the room and whether or not the fabric suits the feel of it, for example traditional style furniture suits traditional fabric patterns. When choosing the colour and pattern of your fabric also consider the size of the room, bold colours work well in larger, well lit rooms but can often be too loud in smaller spaces. Similarly although light tones may look nice new, think about whether or not a white sofa or cream cushions would be practical for your house before buying.

How can I determine a fabric’s durability?

Durability is an important factor to consider when buying a fabric. Firstly you need to determine how much use the area gets, for rooms which get used everyday durability is crucial. Microfibre fabric and leather are both more durable fabrics that you could consider using in heavy-use areas. When choosing a patterned fabric remember that patterns that are woven into the fabric rather than printed on will last longer, similarly a higher thread count indicates the fabric will last longer. Don’t buy a fabric that is not durable enough for its intended purpose, for example delicate duty fabrics should only be used for decorative purposes and make sure you use medium or heavy duty fabric for furniture that gets a lot of use, for example in the living room.

How can I determine a fabric’s cleanability?

A fabric’s ‘cleanability’, how easy it is to clean, is another important factor when buying fabrics. In rooms that get used more often or in households where there are children and pets, a fabric that is easy to clean and look after is vital. Cleanability codes have been developed that tell you if the fabric can be cleaned just with water and water based cleaning products (W), cleaning solvents or dry cleaning (S) or with neither, leaving only vacuuming and gentle brushing (X). If you are unsure ask the retailer before you buy the fabric or a new piece of soft furniture.

What fabrics are suitable for people with allergies?

If you are prone to dust or pollen allergies then choosing a fabric with microfibres could reduce the chance of symptoms: fabrics with microfibres are lint free and therefore don’t attract dust. If you have sensitive skin, eczema or dermatitis then natural fabrics such as cotton, silk and leather and the least likely to cause a reaction. Avoid fabrics that have been treated with extra processes for example anti-crease or easy-care fabrics as the formaldehyde that is used to treat it could cause an irritation in sensitive skin.

The fabrics that you choose in your home will reflect your taste and style; it is important to consider carefully the fabric you are buying when upholstering furniture or buying a new sofa as the material will affect how it wears and how easy it is to look after. Choose a style of fabric that compliments the room and one that meets the practical standards of its intended everyday use.