A Know-How On Your Homeware Fabrics
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Published by TOP4 Team
Whether it’s inexpensive cotton used extravagantly, patchwork quilts, lush silk drapes or antique tapestries born again as small cushions, fabrics make a statement about you and generally set the decorating theme.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money - often it’s the creative use of inexpensive fabrics that is the most effective. Remember, whether you’re considering furniture or fabrics, good design doesn’t have to cost any more than poor design.
The great variety of fabrics available to choose from can be daunting to the fledgling home decorator. Apart from traditional knowledge about fabrics and their properties, manufacturers today often have helpful information printed on the sample cards, telling you of a fabrics’ washing abilities and its potential for fading. They will refer to the “wearability’ of the fabric- or in other words, how strong it is! Pay attention to this valuable information. Fabrics are only guaranteed by the manufacturer if used in recommended situations.
The four natural fibres, cotton, wool, silk and linen are familiar in home furnishing.
Cotton has long been the leader for sheets, towels and most curtains. It’s mass produced and this helps to make it inexpensive to manufacture into fabrics of many weights and textures.
Wool is the basis of traditional and modern floor coverings. Wool is the best fabric insulator while being hard wearing, flame retardant, light and fairly waterproof. It is long lasting, but take care with laundering.
Silk has the glamour role, providing traditional fabrics for providing traditional fabrics for upholstery, tassels and braids, cushions and luxury rugs. Silk is a very fine and strong fibre, a good insulator, quite expensive compared to other natural fibres, and is the most lustrous fibre of all.
Linen is the world’s oldest domestic fibre. Sheets and household napery have always been made from linen, with its main appeal being its sheer endurance - it never seems to wear out!
Today you still have the choice of natural fibres, but also have access to their wide range of manmade or synthetic fibres. The most commonly used of these fibres are polyester, acrylic and viscose - all produced by chemical processes and all with valuable qualities.
Synthetic fibres are often blended with manmade fibres in fabrics. This serves two (2) purposes:
- The cost is reduced, and very often the synthetic fibres give added strength.
- Synthetic fabrics usually wash very well, the fibres do not absorb dirt and moisture and are long wearing. They also provide insulation and effective light control.
Golden rules for choosing fabric:
- Be sure that the fabric you choose is suitable for the job you are doing. Don’t let enthusiasm cloud your judgement.
- Be sure your purchase is economically sound. Don’t overspend on areas that don’t warrant it but do buy the best you can afford, especially for high-use areas. If you have fallen for an incredibly expensive cushion fabric that you really can’t afford, perhaps you could use just a little of it as a feature and team it with a less expensive background fabric.
- If you are going to sew soft furnishing at home, be sure that your sewing machine is up to the job. Remember, you may have to sew through four and five layers of fabric.
- Make sure you check on wearability, stretch and colour-fastness before you buy. Generally the tighter the weave, the less the fabric is likely to stretch out of shape.