Upholstery fabric

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Upholstery fabric

Fabric is used for a variety of purposes and generally the requirements of the fabric for each distinct purpose are different. For example for curtain fabric you may have unique requirements for each window depending on your room, window size and type and the side of the house it is on. You may want a sheer fabric that stops passers by seeing in but that allows light into a dark room. Or you may have draughty single glazed windows and want a thick fabric that will prevent the draughts from getting in with a thick lining.

curtains and upholstery fabric

Generally curtains get little wear and tear other than opening and closing, and are seldom marked or stained so require washing very seldom. However for fabrics used for upholstery it is a different story. Upholstery fabrics get a lot of wear and tear. The term upholstery fabrics refers to any fabric used for covering furniture, fixtures and fittings such as chairs, footstools, banquettes, sofas, chaise longues, headboards, cushions and bedspreads/bed curtains. A variety of different fabric compositions can make good upholstery fabric but it is important to ensure that a fabric is suitable for upholstery before using it. 

The main difference between upholstery fabric and non-upholstery fabric is to do with the rub count.The double rub test is a back and forth motion that approximates the wear and tear that comes from someone sitting down or getting up from an upholstered seat. 3,000 double rubs equals one year's worth of use. If a fabric can withstand 15,000 double rubs or above it is suitable for use in upholstery and should last a good 5 years on a piece of furniture with average usage. If the rub count is lower the fabric will wear quickly and is only suitable for cushions, curtains, or seats used mainly for decorative purposes.

Unique Pool Snooker Table Luxury

When upholstering a chair or sofa you need to take into account the pattern on the fabric and marry it with the object - if you are using a fabric with a large repeat pattern, it needs to work well with the chair. For example if it has a large flower design on it, make sure that the main flower is located in the centre of the chair back or chair seat. 

Traditional upholstered furniture tends to have a large repeat pattern and when reupholstering a chair or sofa, using a traditional fabric with a large repeat pattern in traditional colours will make the chair fit well within a period interior. When purchasing fabric, be careful that you buy enough to get the repeat pattern in the correct place. You may also consider your room size. Small rooms may be not be so good at accommodating large patterns as well as larger rooms - after all, after the cost and effort to reupholster, you will wish to use your furniture for many years.

Fiore fabric on chair

Before you even think about your fabric you may need to consider whether your chair or sofa needs a structural overhaul. The springs may need repairing and the underneath of the chair may need upholstering with new lining materials before the top of the chair is addressed. If attempting a reupholstery project for the first time, you may find it easier to stick to simple designs such as footstools before embarking on a sofa or chair.

Think about the décor of the room that your chair will go into – try to complement this with your fabric choice for the chair – The Victorian Emporium sells historic fabrics and wallpapers that work well together.

Victorian Fabric Collection - View Now

One way to make a statement in your home without compromising a period renovation is to take a traditional piece of furniture and reupholster it with a traditional fabric but maybe in a very bright colour – so a lime green sofa in a Victorian sitting room. Some of the original colours were indeed very bright but the passage of time has faded them. On the bottom of your chair or sofa you may wish to add coordinating tassels and piping to make the project look complete.

English Needlework on bed spread

Obviously upholstery cannot be washed other than by hand. So it's important to ensure that as soon as you notice that a piece of upholstery fabric has been stained, that you gently sponge it down with water and washing up liquid to remove the stain and allow it to dry in a well ventilated room. Upholstery that gets a lot of use and is frequently stained, for example dining room chairs used by small children, may well need to be replaced every few years to stop it from looking scruffy. It's always good to use a patterned fabric in fairly neutral colours, which tends to hide stains better. However upholstery fabric, if well looked after, can last many, many decades - just think of the 19th century chaise longues on sale with their original upholstery. In fact many armchairs that were originally upholstered in leather with brass studs actually look better with age.

Plush elegant victorian foyer seating


The Victorian Emporium sells a varied collection of upholstery fabrics and curtain fabrics for your period home.


Categories: Décor  

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