Choosing upholstery fabric for your chair or sofa in 4 easy steps

When it comes to buying chairs and sofas one has to either become a furniture expert or trust the manufacturer and shop who are providing the item. This is particularly true when you are considering the hidden internal parts of the furniture. (That’s why we are here to help you!) In contrast it is much easier and more fun to pick your own fabric.
Although choosing upholstery fabric can be straightforward, you must think about a few important points to avoid costly mistakes.
Here are a few points to consider..

1 Brand & reputation

There are dozens of manufacturers of upholstery fabric. Some are household names but many will be mostly unknown except to those working in the trade. However much you might desire a leading famous brand don’t close your eyes to other options especially if durability and value for money are important.

  Romo Fabrics   GP&J Baker  Linwood Fabric  Zoffany

2 Style and appearance

Remember that any fabric should complement the style of your chair and add to its character. You will also want to be aware of the room size as you don't want to choose an overwhelming pattern for a small space. Make sure the fabric fits the mood of the room too, and coordinates with other soft furnishing. Some fabrics appear casual, while others might look more formal. Remember to consider, colour, sheen, and pattern as well as texture to the hand. Always work with manufacturers’ fabric samples, not photographs, brochures or computer screen images.

Jim Dickens Upholstery Fabrics

3 Technical performance

Sometimes this gets overlooked in the home environment but it is central to choices for contract work such as hotel and restaurant seating.
Fundamentally you should consider:
  • Durability – wear resistance (ask about the Martindale rub test) and colour fastness. If your pets will also be sharing your sofa with you, consider a microfiber fabric or leather as they can withstand heavy use.
  • Protection – most fabric can be treated so it resists stains and spills and this can be a worthwhile investment
  • Maintenance – how easy is it to remove dirt, pet hairs etc
  • Fire safety – some fabrics cannot meet UK fire safety rules whilst others need special treatment or construction. Take care if you import your own fabric. Wool is a good choice as it meets domestic fire regulations without chemical treatment.

4) Longevity

Though physical durability is a factor in longevity, other issues also come to the fore. If you want a “timeless” piece of furniture, avoid uber-trendy colours or patterns, unless you happen to really like them. Style trends in fabrics come and go so be careful. Will you be able to live with a colour even when its popularity wanes, or would you be willing to re-cover your chair or sofa – when you invest in quality construction this is a sensible option. Please don’t throw away a perfectly serviceable frame on account of worn out or out of style fabric.

We have several thousand fabrics on display that are suitable for  upholstery but to help narrow down the decision making process we have created our Designers Choice. These are the fabrics featured on our website. But if you can't see what fabric you want please just ask. We'd be more than happy to help.

Posted by Steve Whitt


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