Fabric Glossary to Help you with your Upholstery Project

Along with color and pattern it is equally important to choose  fabric with the proper weight, weave and durability for your home decor project.  This list offers a brief description of  some popular fabrics that will help you make an informed decision.

  • Batik is a cotton cloth that has been dyed using the batik methof of creating wax designs, dipping the fabric into a vegetable dye and removing the wax to expose the pattern.  Offers a very bohemian or ethnic look to a room and good for use in throw pillows, bedding and window treatments.
  • Brocade is a heavy woven fabric featuring a raised pattern that resembles embroidery.  This fabric offers a more formal look to a room and is suitable for use in upholstery and draperies and cornices.
  • Canvas is a tightly woven, heavy cotton fabric that is commonly found in solid colors.  It is similar in feel to twill or duck and is very durable and easy to maintain.  A nice choice for upholstery that receives a lot of use, boat awnings, outdoor furniture etc.
  • Cashmere is a luxurious wool fabric that comes from the cashmere goats found in Tibet (hence the name).  Due to the expense it is not often used in upholstery projects but would certainly be suitable for a wonderful throw on the back of the sofa or at the foot of the bed.
  • Crepe is a very soft  and sheer fabric with a crinkly appearance and can be made from silk, wool or cotton.  This ethereal fabric makes lovely window treatments, table coverings or even as an overlay to a bedskirt.
  • Damask is a medium weight fabric that is often found in linen, silk or wool and is a popular choice for formal draperies or upholstery.
  • Denim is a heavy cotton fabric that we are all familiar with when it comes to clothing.  However, it’s durability makes it a good choice for casual seating, youthful window treatments, table linens etc.
  • Shantung (dupioni) is a silk fabric that can have a matte finish.  What makes this fabric unique are the “slubs” that add texture to the fabric.  Makes exquisite draperies, tablecloths or bedding.
  • Suede- real suede is a brushed leather product.  Faux suede looks and feels like the real thing but is often lighter in weight and more affordable.  This is a durable product that can be used in most home decor projects.
  • Tapestry is a heavy weight woven fabric that is most often used in wall hangings but can also be used to upholster a side chair, cover cornice boxes or create accent pillows.
  • Wool comes from the wool of a sheep and is a very durable fabric used in the making of clothing, carpeting and upholstery.  Different blends produce different levels of durablity and softeness.

Fabrics like nylon, polyester, vinyl and rayon are made from synthetic fibers that usually result in a durable, easy to care for material.  A fabric that is a blend of a natural and a synthetic fiber is often the best choice for color and durability.