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How to Choose the Right Fabrics for Your Home

Looking for a good fabric to use on your sofa, loveseat, your dining room chairs or other furniture? Well, even when you understand fiber, there are some that are suitable for upholstery and others that are not. The reason some fabrics are not suitable for upholstery is that they just aren't durable enough. Which ones are they? Inappropriate fabrics for upholstery needs are especially thin, loosely woven cottons or blends, and such. Use those types of fabrics for your curtains, bedspreads or tablecloths, but not for furniture that will get a lot of wear.

Broadcloth - Usually cotton. Tightly woven with ribs that follow the length of the fabric just like grain in wood.
Brocade - Usually made of cotton, rayon and/or an expensive silk. It is an all-over tone-on-tone (the same color) raised pattern that has the look of embroidery.
Canvas - Tightly woven, heavy fabric. Usually made with cotton or linen and comes in various weights. The light weight version is called duck and the medium weight is called sailcloth.
Chintz - Finely woven, thin cotton. Is usually glazed and printed with a pattern, usually in the floral or leafy motif. The heavier, unglazed, unprinted version is called cretonne.
Corduroy - Heavy cotton, finely woven, that has raised, velvety "ribs". The ribs range from thick to very fine.
Damask - Usually made of cotton or silk, damask is finely woven and lustrous. It can also be made of linen or rayon. The pattern is matte on the top and shiny on the reverse side.
Homespun - Has a slightly nubby texture, but is more coarse and loosely woven. Comes often striped or checked, it is made of cotton or linen.
Muslin - A coarse cotton, muslin is thin and loosely woven. It is often used as the undercover, under upholstery, and this adds durability to the piece. It is blended with polyester for sheeting.
Percale - Has a smooth, finely woven sheeting. It is usually a blend of cotton and polyester.
Ticking - A heavy, firm and finely woven cotton or linen, ticking is usually striped. It most often is used to cover mattresses and bed pillows.

Fabric Widths
Most of your American made fabrics measure 54" wide, although they can range from 45" or 48" to 60" in width. European fabrics tend to be narrower. Then there are specialty fabrics, which can be up to 100" wide or more. These are used in theaters for the huge curtains.

The wider the fabric is, the less you will need, because you will need to sew together fewer pieces to cover your furniture. So be sure to account for a fabric's width before you calculate how much you will need. If in doubt, ask a sales clerk to help you. If you have a fabric with a pattern that repeats, you will need more fabric so you can match up your pattern. The larger the pattern, the larger the repeat, therefore the more fabric you will need. Try to think of other things you can do with left over fabric.


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