What fabric should I use?  And where do I get fabric?

What fabric should I use? And where do I get fabric?

When deciding to get a piece of furniture upholstered one of the most important decisions you can make is what fabric to use.  Chenille or chinoiserie, leather or linen, Crypton or cotton, the selection is vast even before you start to look at patterns or prints.  

To start the process I usually ask clients if there is anything that they are leaning towards.  Some clients have a very specific fabric in mind already but it's more typical to be not so sure.  

Some of the things to consider when selecting fabrics are:

  • Where do you get fabric?  Can I buy fabric from a "big box store"?
    • From me!  I work with over a dozen fabric suppliers that offer more than a million fabrics combined.  And with the addition of commercial fabric printers, there are unlimited options!
    • For the most part I do not accept fabrics that I don't order.  Most of the big box type fabric stores sell end runs, fabric that didn't meet quality standards or it was leftover after a larger order.  That's not to say they don't offer some nice fabrics, but part of the upholstery process is to find a great fabric that will last for years and years and have the backing of a professional upholsterer and fabric supplier. 
  • What colors do you like or are already in the room?  Do you like a pattern or print, solid or weave?
    • Fabrics today are so versatile that you can find almost anything!  And if you can't find exactly what you want there are several reputable custom fabric printers.  You can get a completely custom designed and printed fabric ensuring you get the perfect fabric.  
    • I have a very thorough process to help you to select fabric that you will love for years to come.  
  • How often is this piece used?  Is it the most used chair in the living room or is it an occasional chair in a bedroom?
    • A highly used chair in a living room may need something heavier duty like a cleanable Crypton fabric - especially if there are kids/animals in the house - or something with a high "rub count" (more below) or even a leather.
    • A slipper chair in a guest room that is only lightly used could use a lighter weight fabric because it's not getting heavy wear and tear.  You could use a colorful print on cotton or linen or even a shiny beautiful satin fabric.
  • Is this fabric durable enough?
    • You also have to look at durability.  Fabrics are tested with "double rubs".  Every time you use a piece of furniture you "rub" the fabric when you sit and when you stand up again.  This counts as one "double rub".  
    • For a medium-high use piece you want to look at fabric that is rated at least 20,000 and higher.  This number means that on average you can sit on the fabric 20,000 times before it will wear out.
    • Lighter use pieces can use fabrics in the 8,000 and up range.  And although some lighter fabrics could be used, I prefer to have at least 10,000 for anything you sit on.  Though it can vary by fabric.
    • Typically anything less than 8,000 is reserved for pillows, ottomans, drapes, etc.
    • You can read more about Double Rubs and fabric durability at: https://tinyurl.com/doublerubs

In the end you should always choose a fabric that appeals to you!  Avoid trendy fabrics unless you have the budget to regularly change it OR that trend already fits with you aesthetic.  


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