The Perfect Fabric
Choosing fabric for your like-new piece can seem daunting, but I can help guide you through this fun adventure. Home Again carries a number of fabric lines in a wide range of patterns, styles, price points, and materials available to upholstery clients and the general public. You are welcome to make an appointment to shop my library of fabric lines at the workshop, or browse on your own and supply the fabric for your project. Below you will find all the information you need to set off on your search. Questions? Just ask - I'm happy to help in any way I can!
Upholstery Fabric 101
What To Know Before You Shop
If you're going to spend the time and money to reupholster a piece, the fabric that you choose should be durable enough for whatever you plan to throw at your furniture. While you may not need to be so picky about an occasional chair that barely gets used in a formal living room, if you're recovering dining chairs for a table that your family routinely gathers around, you need to know what makes a good quality fabric. Not all retailers will display this information, so sometimes you have to specifically request it, but the extra hassle will be worth it in the long run.
- DOUBLE RUB COUNT: A rub count is a measure of how much normal wear a fabric can withstand. It is literally the number of times a machine can rub over the fabric before the fibers begin to wear. You may see this number displayed with the labels Wyzenbeek or Martindale. Different tests may have different names, but the same principle applies - the higher the number, the more durable the fabric. Likewise, a higher number can sometimes, but not always, translate into a higher price tag. Some people estimate that 3,000 double rubs is the equivalent of 1-year of average use. Expert opinions vary, but I usually tell clients that the minimum count for fabric being used to upholster furniture is 15,000. However, I prefer to see a number that is at least 30,000. When you get to 100,000+, now you're looking at commercial grade upholstery that is designed to withstand thousands of airline passengers a year or a constant rotation of restaurant patrons. In other words, 100,000 double rub fabric on your sofa should be enough to withstand 3+ kids being homeschooled during a pandemic for 18+ months!
- WEIGHT: Your high school science teacher taught you that mass and weight are not the same, but the world of fabric doesn't heed that distinction. When you see the weight listed, it is actually the mass of a piece of fabric (ounces per square yard) because some threads weigh more than others. So in the U.S., you'll usually see this displayed as ounces. For example, a gauzy fabric might be 4oz and a denim more like 9oz. The denim feels thicker and heavier. Some retailers will skip providing this number all together and just give you a label of heavy, medium, or light weight. While this isn't quite as helpful, especially if you're ordering online and can't feel the fabric yourself, you can still use this to guide your decision. Medium and heavy weight fabrics are generally acceptable for common upholstery projects, so think in the 6-12oz range. Heavy weight fabrics may be suitable for many applications, but if you have a piece with delicate folds, sharp curves, or deep tufts, 12oz fabric isn't going to be as graceful as something in the 6-9oz range. While weight is important to consider, it's not the only factor to take into consideration because characteristics of some light weight fabrics actually make them quite durable.
- MATERIAL: If you're looking for absolute durability, leather or a faux leather are going to provide you with unbeatable performance. Of course they can't stand up to repeated clawing from a cat, but they do excel when it comes to staining, fading, and fiber wear. Faux leather can get a bad rap, but today's options are textured, colorful, pliable, and nothing like the vinyl that used to cover your great-grandma's kitchen chairs. Natural fibers like cotton and linen are quite strong because of the tightly woven fibers, but they aren't as stain or fade resistant. As soon as you add polyester into the mix, the durability goes up significantly.
- PATTERN and COLOR: While you're certainly considering pattern and color for their aesthetic value, you should also know that they can influence how your furniture wears. Something with a busy pattern is going to hide imperfections much more than a solid color. And if you're going with a solid color, selecting a textured fabric, like a chenille or tweed provides stains or snags with a bit of cover.
- TREATMENT: Many fabric lines offer the option to apply a protective treatment to fabric to further protect it against stains and fading. Many of the fabrics in the Home Again library are (or can be) treated to turn them into high performance material that will hold up against whatever your toddler throws at it. Many people are familiar with Crypton, which is fabric that, as its name suggests, is practically indestructible. However, Crypton is essentially a type of treatment that is added to an otherwise "normal" upholstery fabric. Other treatment names include Alta, FibreGuard, or Nanotex Asure. When you see these names used to describe a fabric, you know you're getting upholstery fabric with an extra shot of durability.
Shopping at Home Again
The Home Again fabric library includes an extensive selection, and we're sure you'll find what you're looking for. Chenille, velvet, outdoor, high performance, and faux leather - they're all here. Samples of any of these fabrics can be ordered for your review. And while you're browsing, if you fall in love with wallpaper or a furniture item, we're happy to help order that too. Click on the image to see that brand's website.
We're Here to Help
Home Again is first and foremost an upholstery business, but sometimes it's nice to have a little bit of help with the hardest part of any upholstery project - finding the perfect fabric. You're welcome to browse our library of fabrics online and place an order via email or phone call, but we'd also love to see you in the workshop and support you in your decision. Don't be intimidated though. The workshop doesn't have the formality of a high end interior design showroom. When you visit, you'll see the actual upholstery work happening. I'm likely to be wearing painted clothing, and it's decorated with artwork from my munchkins, but we'll find a fabric you love. When you make an appointment to come look at fabric, I'll ask you for several pictures of your room, along with any thoughts you have about what you'd like to see and what kind of use the furniture is going to get. Because it can be overwhelming to walk into a store and see thousands of options looming in front of you, we'll take your photos and feedback and curate several fabric scenarios for you to consider. At your appointment, these scenarios create the jumping off point for the search. Sometimes you see something presented and you fall in love. The search is over. And in some cases, you thought you hated something, but by showing you the pink velvet, we've convinced you that it's just what the sitting room needs. You might love the texture of this fabric but not like the color. Or maybe you had your heart set on a floral but one that's less traditional. Maybe this is a beautiful pattern, but your kids demand something more practical. An alternative is right at our finger tips, and we'll help refine your preferences into THE fabric that's right for you. It's a win-win situation - there's no cost to you (aside from any fabric you may choose to purchase) and we get to have fun helping bring your vision to life.