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Upholstery is the task of applying padding, fabric, or leather to seats or other furniture. Typically, people don’t upholster their furniture, but there’s a growing community of people wanting to learn this skill. In this case, there are many different types of upholstery fabric for furniture that prospective DIYers need to know. These include natural and man-made fibers that each have their own benefits and detriments to them.
Natural fibers are fibers that come from plants or animals. Some of these come from vegetable fibers, wood fibers, or animal fibers.
Leather is one of the most commonly used sewing materials available. It’s comfortable, luxurious, and has a good scent. Leather also adds great value to a home’s interior. This type of upholstery is easy to maintain, depending on its grading and treatment. It’s also very durable, lasting over five years if treated well. It won’t hold scents like tobacco or pet dander, as leather emits its own recognizable scent. However, the tanned skin can crack or split on its own or from sharp objects, and it’s costlier than other fabrics.
Cotton is another commonly used natural fiber. It dyes easily, which makes it extremely versatile for furniture. Its different grades allow for different costs to fit any designing budget, and its soft feel makes cotton extremely comfortable compared to other materials. This natural hypoallergenic material is suitable for most people, but there are still some considerations to keep in mind. Cotton holds fluids and odors easily, which can ruin the furniture. Also, it wrinkles and catches other dyes often, which can potentially harm fabric. The best cotton fabrics for furniture come in blends, so an ideal blend should include roughly 45% to 60% cotton.
Jute is a natural fiber native to India and Bangladesh, originally used to make mats and ropes. It adds great texture and looks to any piece of furniture. However, jute wrinkles easily and is rough. It can also turn yellow when exposed to sunlight and weaken if exposed to moisture.
Types of Upholstery The French word for caterpillar, you use this stretchable fiber for children’s furniture, sofas, and recliners due to its softness and durability. Since it’s incredibly stretchy, adding a backing is costly. Dry-clean or hand-wash the fabric to preserve its integrity. If machine-washed, always use a low heat and dry it flat to avoid stretching.
This fiber comes from the flax plant and is one of the most affordable fabrics available today. Like cotton, linens typically come in blends with synthetic fibers for stronger durability. Linens are smooth and soft to the touch and remain strong when wet. They are abrasion-resistant, antibacterial, and eco-friendly! Nevertheless, linens wrinkle easily and are prone to soiling. They’re not the best material for consistent rough use, as they can break over time.
Like leather, silk is an expensive yet highly desirable fabric material. It provides a formal décor to any living area and can last a long time if treated properly. As one of the softest materials on this list, silk retains its shape very well. It’s also available in a plethora of colors and patterns. However, it’s incredibly expensive and delicate. You must dry-clean silk to retain its integrity. Due to its delicate nature, you should keep silk away from pets, sunlight, and small children.
This is a luxuriously soft and elegant fabric that will transform any interior space. Velvet has a regal reputation that can hold beautifully rich colors when dyed. Not to mention, it has great insulation properties. On the other hand, velvet is difficult to clean and very expensive. Given this, it should only be meant for formal use.
Wool blends are great for upholstery. Wool does not fade or wrinkle, and its insulation properties make it warm in cold weather and cool in hot weather. Wool blends make cleaning simple and they can withstand quite a bit of wear.
Synthetic fibers are man-made fibers in which the structure and properties change in manufacturing. These engineered fabrics are often more resistant to fading and staining than natural fibers.
Nylon is a durable, high-abrasion resistant material that’s easy to clean. It blends with other materials to enhance its durability and maintenance.
This is a petroleum-based fiber that is best suited for furniture exposed to great wear. It resembles the look and feel of wool. Additionally, it’s water-resistant, since it’s made from melted plastics, and it resists fading. Olefin still has limited variety and can turn brittle when exposed to too much sunlight.
This microfiber is a common upholstery fabric because it blends with most themes and styles. It’s incredibly soft and comfortable and dries very quickly after spills or washes. It also won’t absorb outside odors! However, like leather, it can crack when exposed to extreme temperatures and will stretch over time. It’s also extremely flammable.
Faux leather, or fake leather, is an eco-friendly alternative to leather, since no animals were harmed in the process. It’s breathable and biodegradable.
Rayon is a semi-synthetic fiber that offers the same comfort as natural fibers. It’s not very durable, as it does not keep its original appearance for long. It also scratches and wrinkles easily. Rayon is still a cheap upholstery fabric that is resistant to moths and mildew.
Acrylic is a fiber typically used in blends to imitate wool. It comes in a variety of colors for any furnishing. Acrylic is quick-drying, easy to wash, and sun-safe, making it perfect for outdoor use. Too much exposure to heat can melt it, however, and acrylic may trigger certain allergies.
We at Fabric Wholesale Direct are the top-notch discount fabric warehouse for your sewing needs. We target both new and experienced sewers, so don’t let our selection alarm you. No matter what you’re looking for, we carry apparel and fashion fabrics, event décor fabrics, upholstery fabrics, trims, and notions. Contact us today if you have any questions about our fabrics for your next project.