Fabrics for Upholstery | A Comprehensive Guide

fabrics for upholstery

a comprehensive guide

◦ Fabrics for Upholstery ◦ Sofa Fabric ◦ Material for Upholstery ◦ Types of Upholstery Fabric ◦ Patterns

The ultimate guide for picking fabrics for upholstery

Why picking the right upholstery fabric matters


Congratulations on making the decision on reupholstering your furniture. Many people decide to restore old sofas, chairs, dining room chairs for the following reasons:


  • Want to re-decorate and add some flair to their living room or other rooms
  • Want to create a centerpiece for their living rooms
  • Want to restore heirlooms that were passed down from previous generations
  • Love the high quality of the frame that you can’t find in the market
  • Love the look and style of the older sofa or chairs
  • Found a piece that they adore but the couch or chair needs a facelift.

Making the right decisions
when choosing fabric

This guide will teach you everything you need to know to make the right decisions when going through the process of figuring out what fabric type, materials, and other varying degrees of fabric features to look out for. The ultimate goal is to get you well equipped so you can:

 

  • Save time. Instead of spending days looking for the right fabric you can get it down in an hour or less when you work with your local upholsterers. Just let the upholsterer know exactly what you want and they’ll pull up all the sample books for you to match your criteria.
  • Narrows down your fabric choices when you know what to look for. There are thousands of different types of fabrics on the market, so going in with a very specific idea of what you want will help you narrow down to the best possible choices that are available for your upholstery fabric.
  • Gives you confidence that you’ve picked the best possible fabric for your furniture.
A photo of a livingroom setting with a couch, footstool, white and brown fabric for upholstery

Reupholstering
vs. buying new

We recommend upholstering pieces that are older, well-built, and have unique qualities that are hard to come by in today’s market. Usually, the older pieces have a stronger and more sturdy frames made from high quality wood that will last generations. Of course if your piece has sentimental value then reupholstering would also be a good option.

We don’t recommend upholstering newly made couches, sofas, and chairs due to the cheaper quality frames and materials. In most cases the new materials that are chosen will out value the cheaper materials. If you have a newer couch or chair you’ll probably be better of just buying new to save money.

Not all fabrics are created equal

As you probably know by now upholstery fabrics come in a variety of textures, colors, and patterns. Fabric type range from natural fibers like cotton and wool, cotton blend, imitation wool, nylon, rayon, woven, velvet, weave, synthetic fabric, heavy duty, premier prints, and the list goes on and on.

 

So, how do you know which one to choose for your furniture? In this guide, we will walk you through the process of choosing the best upholstery fabric for your sofa or chair. We’ll discuss different fabric type, what to look for in terms of color and texture, and how to test the fabric before making a purchase.

 

Towards the end of the article we’ll walk you through the steps to making your own upholstery fabric mood board to get the most out of your upholstery project. Let’s get started!

santa barbara upholstery rolls of fabric
fabric swatches for upholstery

The different types of fabrics for upholstery

There are many different types of fabrics that can be used for upholstery. Each type has its own unique properties that make it better or worse for certain applications. When choosing an upholstery fabric, it is important to consider the intended use of the piece of furniture. Fabric that are more durable and easy to clean are better suited for pieces that will get a lot of use, while more delicate fabric are better suited for pieces that will be used mostly for decoration. It is also important to consider the climate in which the furniture will be used, as some fabrics are not suitable for all climates. Once you have considered all of these factors, you should be able to narrow down your choices and select the perfect fabric for your furniture.

Cotton is a natural fiber that is strong and durable. It is also comfortable to sit on and easy to clean. However, cotton fabric can shrink and less fade resistant over time.

Linen is another natural fiber that is similar to cotton in terms of strength and durability. However, linen fabric tend to be more expensive than cotton fabric.

Wool is a strong and durable fiber that is resistant to shrinking and fading. However, wool fabric can be itchy and uncomfortable to sit on.

Synthetic fibers are man-made fibers that are designed to mimic the properties of natural fibers. Synthetic fabric are usually cheaper than natural fabrics, but they can be less comfortable and may not wear as well over time.

Polyester is a synthetic fiber that is very strong and resistant to shrinking and fading. However, it is not as comfortable to sit on as natural fibers like cotton or linen, and its not as breathable and doesn’t absorb liquids well.

Leather is a durable and stylish upholstery fabric that is perfect for high-use pieces of furniture. However, leather can be difficult to clean and is not suitable for all climates.

The benefits of each type of upholstery fabric

There are many different types of fabrics that can be used for upholstery. Each type has its own unique properties that make it better or worse for certain applications. When choosing an upholstery fabric, it is important to consider the intended use of the piece of furniture. Fabric that are more durable and easy to clean are better suited for pieces that will get a lot of use, while more delicate fabric are better suited for pieces that will be used mostly for decoration. It is also important to consider the climate in which the furniture will be used, as some fabrics are not suitable for all climates. Once you have considered all of these factors, you should be able to narrow down your choices and select the perfect fabric for your furniture.

outdoor furniture sofa and foot stool made from offwhite fabric

Cotton is a natural durable fabric that is strong. It’s also easy to clean and maintain.

Linen is another natural fiber that is similar to cotton in terms of durability and easy care. Linen fabric are often used in high-end upholstery projects because of their luxurious appearance and feel.

Wool is a natural fabric that is very strong and durable. Wool fabric is often used in high-end upholstery projects because of their luxurious appearance and feel.

Synthetic fibers such as polyester and nylon are less expensive than natural fibers, but they are not as durable.

Polyester are synthetic fabrics that’s less expensive than natural fabrics, and durable.

Nylon are synthetic fabrics that are also less expensive than natural fabrics, but it’s not as durable.

Blends are fabrics that are made from a combination of natural and synthetic fibers. Blends are usually more durable than 100% natural fibers and can be easier to care for while being more suited for everyday use. There are different types of blends such as cotton blends, and polyester blend which are more stain resistant than 100% polyester fabric.

Leather is a material that is made from the skin of an animal. Leather is very strong and heavy duty, but it can be difficult to care for.

Faux leather is a material that like leather, but it is not made from the skin of an animal. Faux leather is usually less expensive than leather and it is easier to care for.

Vinyl is a plastic material that is used in furniture fabric. Vinyl fabrics are more stain resistant, easy to clean, and maintain and are commonly used for outdoor upholstery, automotive seating, or boating furniture. Marine vinyl is great for outdoor upholstery as it is more suitable for heavy use, less soil from dirt, more sunlight resistance, and more resistance to fade.

How to pick
the best upholstery fabric
for your needs

When it comes to fabrics, there are endless options available on the market. With so many choices, it can be difficult to decide which one is best for your needs. Upholstery fabrics come in different weights, pattern, and colors, so it’s important to take all of these factors into consideration when making your decision.

 

Here are a few tips to help you pick the perfect fabric for furniture:

 

  • Consider the weight of the upholstery fabric. Heavy duty fabric are ideal for high-traffic areas or pieces that will get a lot of use, while lighter fabrics are better suited for more delicate pieces.
  • Think about the fabric pattern. If you’re looking for a fabric that will make a statement, go for something with a bold pattern. If you want something more understated, opt for a solid color or simple print.
  • Think about the color of the upholstery fabric. When it comes to upholstery fabrics, there are endless color options available. Consider what will work best with your existing décor and furniture pieces.
 

Keep these tips in mind when picking out fabrics for your next upholstery project! With so many choices on the market, it’s important to take all of these factors into consideration to ensure you pick the perfect upholstery fabric for your needs.

How to choose the right color and fabric pattern for your home

Your home’s upholstery fabrics are one of the most important design elements. They set the tone for your entire space and can make or break a room’s overall look. With so many different fabrics on the market, it can be tough to know where to start when choosing fabrics for your furniture. But don’t worry, we’re here to help!

white sofa couch in a livingroom space interior shot

The upholstery fabric should complement the style of your furniture

If you have traditional pieces, go for classic fabrics like linen or cotton. For more modern pieces, opt for bolder colors and pattern.

The fabric should be durable for its purpose

Upholstery fabrics see a lot of wear and tear, so you’ll want to choose something that’s built to last. Fabric like microfiber or leather are great options for high-traffic areas. You can go with lighter fabric with less thread count for more decorative antique pieces that won’t get as much fading, stains or wear and tear. These antique pieces can usually be upholstered with nice prints or popular designs ranging from floral textiles or velvet fabric type.

dog on gray sofa fabric
gray sofa fabric with pillows in a livingroom setting

The color and pattern of the upholstery fabric should work with the rest of your décor

You don’t want anything too busy or out of place. Stick to muted colors and a simple pattern if you’re not sure what will work.

Matching your existing interior decor is a great way to unify the look and feel of your home

Matching upholstery fabric colors and tones to your decor. Go for similar colors and tones to those used in your window treatments, drapery, rugs, and other accessories helps to give your space a cohesive look.

blue sofa fabric matching wall color

Planning for the perfect fabric

When it comes to upholstery fabric, there are a lot of factors to consider. But with a little planning, you can narrow down your choices and find the perfect fabric for your furniture.

The easiest and fastest way to make an upholstery fabric mood board
Start is by taking photos of the environment (living room, kitchen, dining room, etc). This will help you visualize the overall look, feel, and color of the room. Gather swatches of upholstery fabric, paint samples, and close up photos of other furniture, your sofa, chairs, along with accessories. The idea is to help you decide which colors and patterns to choose. Once you have everything collected consolidate it to one file to send to the upholster when you’re ready. These photos will help the upholsterer find the right fabric collections for you to streamline the process.
After you’ve created your mood board, take some time to evaluate each element. What colors do you see repeated? What fabrics look best together? Which textures you prefer? By taking the time to really examine your photos, you’ll be able to zero in on the fabric that will work best for your space.

Buy upholstery fabric online vs. going to an upholsterer
As you can see there are many variables when finding the right fabric. Buying fabric online is a good option if you know exactly what you are looking for. However there are some drawbacks when buying upholstery fabric online.

  • Can’t touch or feel the fabric for durability and comfort
  • Can’t return or will be a high restocking fee due to the fabric being cut to your specifications
  • Can’t see the true color or nature of the fabric online. The colors may not match your decor.
  • Fabric type may not be what you were looking for. The weight could be heavier or light compared to what you wanted.
  • Measurements for what you actually need could be incorrect. The need for accurate measurements is essential for upholstery. There are many cases where the fabrics are discontinued and not available if the measurements are not properly accounted for, you could end up with an incomplete project.
  • Shipping and return shipping may be expensive and a hassle if free shipping isn’t available.
  • The most important thing is that you won’t get advice from an experienced upholsterer that can help direct you in your search.

Scheduling an appointment with your upholsterer
Once you’ve narrowed down fabric type, and the look of what you’re going for it’s time to schedule an appointment to visit your local upholstery shop to check out their extensive selection of fabric. In many cases you can request an agent to come to your home with sample books to get an in-home estimate and pick-up.

Be specific
Make sure you specify what you’re looking for to help them narrow down your sample selection. An easy way to get the best fabric collections for your needs is to send your photos you took earlier to the upholsterer. Walk them through the main points of what you are looking for so they can curate the fabric sample books for you saving you tons of time.

Final decisions
Before you make any final decisions on your fabric choice, be sure to check the quality of the fabric. How is the durability? Is it the most durable fabric for your needs? Does it have a good weight? Is it the right material? How does it feel when you touch it? Does it match the color you are looking for? These are all important factors to consider when choosing the best fabric.

Caring for your upholstered furniture

Vacuum it regularly and spot-clean spills as soon as they happen. You can also have your furniture professionally cleaned every few years to keep it looking its best.

When choosing upholstery fabric, you’ll want to consider both style and durability. If you have small children or pets, you’ll probably want to steer clear of light-colored fabrics that show stains easily. Conversely, if your furniture is in a room that doesn’t get a lot of traffic, you might be able to choose a more delicate fabric.

Once you’ve chosen the perfect upholstery fabric for your furniture, you can enjoy it for years to come. With proper care and professionally cleaned once in a while your upholstered furniture will look beautiful and last a long time.

blue sofa fabric matching wall color

Conclusion

In conclusion, whether you are considering sofa upholstery, chair, or dining room chairs it is important to consider various factors when choosing upholstery fabrics for furniture. Creating a mood board can help narrow down choices and evaluate fabrics, colors, textures, and patterns. It is also important to check the quality of upholstery fabric before making any final decisions. With these tips in mind, you will be able to choose the best upholstery fabric for your needs, and one that will last a long time.



Thanks for reading! We hope this guide was helpful. 🙂

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