Choosing the right fabric for your occasional chair - in 3 easy steps

Recently one of our customers asked us to use a silk fabric for an occasional chair, but fortunately we spotted that they were wearing jeans. Not any old jeans but jeans with metal studs.

Right off from the start I should say that we are not the fashion police! We leave that to the cutting edge fashion boutiques. Our mission is rather more prosaic. We want our customers to have a chair that they love and which enhances their home - but also has to be practical.

And a practical occasional chair needs to have an appropriate fabric on it. Some are much more hard wearing than others. Some fabrics are suitable for use on the London Underground whilst others are best saved for single use in something like a wedding dress!

Returning now to our customer with studded jeans. Jeans can cause several problems for furniture. Firstly the indigo dye can transfer to the furniture fabric, so best get the jeans washed. Not surprisingly metal studs, zips and the like can cause physical damage to fabric. And finally remember that rivetted denin is a tough fabric - originally invented by Levi Strauss for miners' overalls and cowboy trousers in the USA.
Hey! Go easy on your furniture with rivetted denim jeans. :-)

The solution was simple. We quickly talked our customer through the choice of fabrics and soon we had an alternative that looked just as stylish but which would stand the test of time, wear from jeans and numerous bottoms over many years.

Making the right decision in three easy steps

The three main considerations are:

1 Brand & reputation
There are numerous manufacturers of upholstery fabric. Some are household names but many will be mostly unknown except to those working in the trade. Much as you might covet a top name brand don’t close your eyes to other options especially if durability and value for money are important.

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. Remember to consider, colour, sheen, and pattern as well as texture to the hand. Work from real fabric samples , not photographs, brochures or screen images.

3 Technical performance
Sometimes this gets overlooked in the domestic 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
  • Maintenance – cleaning or protection against stains and dirt
  • Fire safety – some materials cannot meet UK fire safety rules whilst others need special treatment or construction.

Underpinning, all three factors is the actual composition of the fabric as well as how it has been woven. Nowadays the choice of fibres used in designer fabrics is extremely wide since includes the whole spectrum of synthetic and natural fibres and the various mixes of two or more.

Why not visit our Dunnington Showroom to see the wide selection of different fabrics we have available to cover your next piece of furniture.

Posted by Steve Whitt

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