Well simply put, upholstery fabric is fabric or textiles used for furniture. What is upholstery? Upholstery is the physical act of covering seats and furniture with webbing, padding, springs, foam, or cushions to furniture and covering it with upholstery fabric. This type of work is very niche and needs to be done by a professional. The problem when it comes to upholstery fabric is what upholstery fabric is the best for my furniture? In this blog I want to give some background on upholstery and the fabric used to recover furniture today.
The word upholstery comes from the Middle English word upholder, which referred to an artisan who help up their goods. A person who works with upholstery is an upholsterer. An apprentice upholsterer is often called an outsider or a trimmer. Nowadays they usually just call them an apprentice upholsterer. Historically, upholstery used materials such as straw and hay, animal hair, coconut husks, burlap, linen, wadding, and anything else upholsterers can shove into a piece of furniture to make it comfortable.
In 18th century London, upholders constantly served interior decorators. These decorators were often used by the mid-upper to upper class individuals to decorate their homes and estates. Today, interior designers work with upholsterers to satisfy their client’s needs. Usually the interior designer has a full space she is designing for her client.
In today’s market, there are several different ways you can go about purchasing upholstery or furniture. One of the more favorable upholstery purchasing options is to go through a furniture retailer. Furniture stores can be found in every town. Some of them represent either one or several different furniture manufacturers depended on their store. It’s easy to find furniture stores on Google by searching “furniture stores near me”.
Another option is to update your old furniture with new fabric and stuffing. There are local upholsterers who can restore anything from heirloom pieces to your everyday sofa or couch. These professionals have gone through an apprenticeship or education in upholstery. The best way to find one near you is to go on Google and type in “upholstery near me”. If you choose to go with a local upholsterer, you’ll probably need and idea of what fabric you want to reupholster your outdated furniture.
Choosing Upholstery Fabric
Luckily, you will have so many different upholstery fabrics to choose from. You can buy them locally from a fabric store, direct from the upholsterer, online, catalogs, the list goes on. You can buy direct from a furniture manufacturer or the upholstery manufacturing mill themselves. In today’s market, there are numerous ways of buying upholstery fabric.
Upholstery Fabric is easy to come by but making the best upholstery fabric decision for your furniture is sometimes a best guess situation. Upholstery fabric can be one type of fiber or a blend of many. It all depends on the design and aesthetic you are looking for in your upholstery. Below is a list of the upholstery fabric fibers and what they are made of.
Upholstery Fiber Types
Cotton– a natural fiber preferred for its breathability and budget friendly reputation.
Cotton is great for those wanting the soft feel but is susceptible to fading and stains easy.
Wool– has a great texture and feel, this natural fiber is great for keeping its shape on furniture. It is less resistant to stains, so majority of the time is treated with a stain treatment .
Linen– just like the other natural fibers, it is less resistant to stain. It is a great choice for printing designs on and heirloom pieces.
Silk– Very high end and costly, silk is strong, soft to the touch but should not be upholstered on everyday use pieces.
Polyester– a synthetic fiber known for being a little easier to clean than natural fibers.
Rayon– added softness when added to other natural and synthetic fibers but is not very durable in the long run
Acrylic–a synthetic fiber that is very durable with colorfast and light fastness ratings higher than natural fibers and can be cleaned. Great for heavy use upholstery
Nylon– Synthetic fiber known for a higher abrasion resistance. Can be used on everyday use upholstery.
Olefin– Extremely durable, synthetic fiber, color fast, used in heavy use everyday upholstery. Olefin is my fiber of choice because it doesn’t have to be treated to be stain resistant. Olefin chemically contains no dye sites for stains to set in or take.
Thank you for reading my blog on upholstery fabric. I hope the information has been informative about upholstery fabric, where to buy modern upholstery, and what fibers are used in woven upholstery fabrics.