Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Choosing Appropriate Upholstery Fabrics for Period Decorating: Part III

How can I determine durability of a fabric if the Wyzenbeek or Martindale rating is not available?

What to look for: 
Fabric Construction
Fabrics with tighter weaves and higher thread counts, like denims and twills, are more durable. (Plus fabrics with tighter weaves are generally easier to clean.) Woven fabrics are generally more durable than printed fabrics. Fabrics woven from yarns that are the same size and strength (known as a balanced weave) last longer than fabrics woven from a combination of thick and thin yarns.

What to look for: Types of Fabrics
Dense plush fabrics like velvet (especially velvets with high percentage wool mohair and linen content) and high-end chenille will withstand abrasion very well.  Leather and some of the new micro-fibers are also very durable.

Flat surface fabrics like some damasks, brocades, satins and silks that have long yarns on the surface, are also subject to higher wear and lower abrasion ratings.

 What to look for: Fabric Content (Fibers)
Whether a fabric is made from natural or manufactured fibers is not enough to determine durability. (For more about fiber content, see our FAQ: Natural vs Synthetic Fibers). 

Summary: Fabric Durability
Durability is the result of a combination of factors. If the number of double rubs (Wyzenbeek) or Martindale rating is not available, your interior decorator or reputable experienced seller of a fabric should be able to provide an informed and professional judgment regarding the appropriate use of a particular fabric.

Although durability is a very important factor to consider when investing in fabric for your home, there are other considerations. To be continued...

To learn more about fabric terms and types of fabrics, see Historic, Vintage & Reproduction Home Decorating Fabrics -- A Musically & Otherwise Punctuated Glossary of Home Decor Textile Terms

Other considerations when choosing fabrics or your home

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