Blue Jean Baby: Denim Upholstery Fabrics That Rock

First off, you’re welcome. Because — if you’re anything like us — just reading that headline is going to have you humming Elton John for the rest of the day (and thinking of that scene in Almost Famous). Okay, now let’s focus.

Though actually, that comfy, right-at-home vibe is a great segway into today’s topic: denim. It’s a fabric fit for wearing and for furniture. It can soothe and comfort. It can protect and work hard. Denim does indeed rock. 

In honor of its awesomeness, today we’ll offer ideas and inspiration for taking full advantage of denim’s widely diverse possibilities. We’ll touch on what you need to know about the various types of fabrics considered in the denim family. Specifically, traditional denim, duck (aka, denim’s sturdy side), and denim’s cousin twill. And then we’ll offer some ideas for how you can use them in your upholstery.

Getting To Know Denim, Duck, And Twill Upholstery Fabrics

Before we shift into all things denim upholstery fabrics themselves, let’s clarify some terms. When it comes to denim-like fabric, you’ll hear three terms used (often interchangeably): denim, duck, and twill. They each have similar content — usually cotton or cotton blend — but they can differ in feel and in terms of their best use.

There’s a wide body of information out there breaking down the differences between all three if you’re inclined to geek out about it (like we did). But this video from YouTuber Carl Murawski really tells you all you need to know in around seven minutes. He’s focussed on clothing fabric but the information holds for upholstery as well.

The bottom line is that it’s all about the type and density of the weave. Duck is super tight resulting in durability — often up to and including being waterproof. While traditional denim and twill have slightly looser and less structured weaves, resulting in greater softness. 

Alright, here ends the public service announcement. You are now hereby certified as knowing more about denim, duck, and twill than you ever needed to. (Who knows, maybe it’ll help you out on Jeopardy someday.) Now let’s put that knowledge to use in your home.

Slip Your Upholstery Into The Classic Softness And Feel Of Denim

Here comes the fun part. We’ll dig into duck fabric a bit later, but let’s snuggle up with denim’s comfy, traditional side first. 

When you hear the word denim, you probably think of your favorite pair of blue jeans, right? Soft and worn to perfection. The kind of cottony softness that arrives with a contented sigh. That is absolutely one of denim’s sides. And if that’s what you’re looking for, try outfitting your overstuffed armchairs in 100% cotton, eco-friendly vintage blue denim fabric. Or upholster your headboard in rich hunter-green denim and give yourself a soothing place to land at the day’s end. Seriously, imagine propping up against it to enjoy your favorite book or a Netflix binge. 

And remember those white jeans your mom never let you have? Well, you’re a grown-up now, so go for it! Let your sofa slip into pre-shrunk, performance-grade white denim without fear. And for even greater peace of mind, let your sofa literally slip into that denim with a custom or even a DIY slipcover. (Then you can simply slip it off for occasional laundering.)

And — for fun — if you’re really dreaming of going full-on denim and not just enjoying the benefits of freshly made denim fabric, yes, you can even use actual blue jeans. Check out this DIY guide from master upcycler, Claire, at Pillar Box Blue.

Embracing The Versatility Of Decidedly Durable Duck Fabric

And then there’s duck fabric. Duck is what happens when denim starts working out — a lot. In many ways, it has the look and feel of denim which is why the terms are often interchangeable. But where the two part ways, performance-wise, is that duck is kind of a heavyweight champ. 

Duck’s weave is so tight and structured that it’s super strong, like canvas strong. Strong enough to often be waterproof and for sure strong enough to resist punctures and tears and be able to weather, well, pretty much all kinds of weather.

That’s why you’ll love duck canvas as the go-to for demanding upholstery scenarios like outdoor furniture and marine applications. What’s more, today’s duck fabrics offer a downright nutty range of colors and patterns and some even have their strength further fortified with Crypton.

So, imagine your patio furniture in terracotta coral duck canvas or perhaps a lit scarlet red. Accent either with throw pillows or an upholstered ottoman in abstract patterned oyster shell gray. 

For marine enthusiasts, add some Mediterranean flair to your boat or patio — even if you’re in Minnesota — with Agean aqua duck upholstery. And offer accents that add energy and light in powder white.

Just like traditional denim, the duck fabrics available to you today are nowhere in the ballpark of just traditional. You’ll find a wide array of colors, not to mention patterns and eco-friendly options. The point is, duck canvas is way more than just old-school army green these days. 

You Can Get Denim Feel With The Vast Style Possibilities Of Twill

We’ve covered classic and soft denim and strong and sturdy duck fabric. Time for a quick word about twill, a “sort of” denim fabric often lumped in with the others because of the weave it shares with denim. 

The difference is mostly about materials and the tightness of the weave. Where denim and duck are usually cotton and tightly woven, twill is made with any of a variety of materials and its slightly looser weave gives it an added softness. And that plus the spectrum of colors available makes twill ideal for pretty much all your interior design upholstery needs.

Try a muted turquoise textured twill for your office loveseat. Add definition and warmth to a large space with curtains in heavy navy blue twill. Give your living room sectional a lift and contemporary swagger with pearl white twill and accent pillows in sky blue. And don’t worry about keeping those light colors bright, they come bearing Crypton, too.

Style Upgrade: You Can Definitely Do It With Denim, Duck, And Twill 

Blue jean baby… Back to singing Elton John for this final bit. You love your favorite jeans. And, after our little journey today, we’re hoping you’re seeing a whole new world of possibilities for denim and its cousins — duck and twill. 

Whether you’re looking for some of the comforts of traditional denim vibes, the toughness of duck canvas, or the soft simplicity of twill, all three can elevate your interior design game in virtually any application.

So, are you ready to dig into denim? Excellent. We’re ready to help. Drop us a line or give us a call today.

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