A Guide to Choosing the Most Appropriate Upholstery Fabric for Your Project

If you’re looking for upholstery fabric for your project, you may be overwhelmed by how many choices are available. Knowing what you want, how to find it, and what you should be paying for it can really help you cut costs and save on time. 

Plus, there’s nothing worse than finishing your project and feeling reasonably happy, only to discover an even better fabric somewhere else because you didn’t consider all your upholstery requirements. It’s time to find all the details of choosing the most appropriate upholstery fabric for your project. 

Top Considerations When Choosing Upholstery Fabric

Choosing the best possible upholstery fabric for your project isn’t a simple matter of looking at a picture of the pattern and colors and saying “yep, that one.” There are many other considerations involved that need to also factor into the equation before you decide on particular upholstery fabric. 

1. Budget

Normally, I like to put the cost last on my list of considerations. But let’s face it, there’s no point in looking at the most amazing, 60,000 double-rub-rated fabric that is just perfect but you cannot afford it. 

Knowing what your overall budget is, it’s a good idea to calculate the overall fabric requirement in yards, then consider all other costs such as labor (if you need a specialist), trimmings, and other upholstery materials like sponge and padding. Once you know what you have available for the total fabric requirements, you can break this down to the max price per yard. 

Shopping in that price range is vital to help keep you on track. 

2. Type of Use Furniture Sees

Sofas require a more sturdy and durable upholstery fabric than a set of mostly ornamental wingback chairs. The use your furniture sees will determine the type of upholstery fabric you should look at. 

Items that see frequent use and high traffic will need a higher rub-rated fabric. For 15,000 plus rub-rated fabric, look at your sofas, dining room chairs, and ottomans that also double as tables. Children’s room furniture will need to be more wipeable than other fabric uses. 

3. Dimensions of the Furniture Items

The size, panels, and shape of the furniture items will also influence the type of upholstery fabric you can use. Large-shaped furniture can be used with bold and large-scale patterns. Dainty furniture items may require a smaller scale pattern repeat to match the overall size. 

4. Pattern and Colors of Your Decor Scheme

Next on your checklist is to consider what colors and patterns will work with your existing decor scheme. You may not be able to exactly match an existing pattern, but adding a new pattern to complement your other patterns may be a great decision. 

To match patterns, choosing a similar color palette is a must. Next, choose similar size patterns. Consider the pattern size and density. Patterns don’t have to be exactly the same, and you can easily combine a floral pattern with stripes if the colors and scales match.

5. Style and Aesthetic 

The overall feel of the fabric can be very telling whether it will work in your space or not. If your room is quite formal, it won’t look great if you add in a mink pink sofa with Hello Kitty printed on it. Casual rooms offer more potential to explore and play with decor themes. 

6. Ease of Working as Upholstery Fabric 

Not all fabrics are easy to work with when you are an amateur upholsterer. Some fabrics require a bit more skill to achieve a satisfactory result. Silk, while not a traditional upholstery material, can work well as upholstery when backed onto a linen or cotton fabric. However, to back silk requires the skills and know-how to do so successfully. 

Work in your skill set and don’t overestimate what you can do. 

7. Durability 

Spending a substantial amount on upholstery fabric means you need to purchase something that will last long enough to justify the expense. Avoid fabric that has a rub rating at the low end of the scale. 

Fabric that has woven elements such as gold trim and raised details may wear faster than regular fabric. Consider the colorfastness of any fabrics you are considering. 

8. Practicality and Functionality 

For highly practical rooms, you should opt for upholstery fabric that is easy to clean, colorfast, and resilient. Go for leather, vinyl, and microfiber as these will resist soiling and staining better than silk, velvet, or linen and cotton. 

You wouldn’t want to sit with a huge dry cleaning bill, so look for fabric that cleans easily, requires little effort to maintain, and resists stains. 

9. What You Expect From the Fabric

If you expect the upholstery fabric to perform in a specific way, such as making large fluffy folds when you create a tufted look, you would do well to look at the fabrics that do deliver your requirements. 

10. Fade Resistant 

Not all fabric is created equal. Some fabrics are attractive and affordable, but when inspecting your furniture items a few weeks later, you will likely find the fabric has begun to fade and fray. Choose a fabric that is fade-resistant and UV resistant to ensure the fabric lasts. 

11. Your Lifestyle

Pets aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, should you be nuts about your little miniature Schnauzers, but they mess on the bed and sofa, there are no other options except to choose an upholstery fabric that is easy to clean and pet-friendly, such as microfiber that doesn’t rip when scratched. 

12. Size of the Pattern Repeat

The pattern size of your fabric will determine whether it’s a good choice for your furniture pieces. If the pattern repeat is much wider than the seats of your sofa or chairs, you will have to cut off edges, which will ruin the overall effect. 

However, even if the pattern repeat is way too small for the seats, you may find that there are edges that will look funny, also compromising the upholstery fabric’s pattern. 

The trick is to fit the pattern to the furniture, or alternatively, opt for a much smaller pattern repeat that isn’t a noticeable “flaw” when covering your furniture piece. 

13. Colors in Your Home

Another serious consideration is the balance between the colors of the upholstery in the space of your home. What looks bright red online may turn to a deep brick color when placed in your home because of the color of light filtering in from the outside. 

It’s vital to order a few samples (usually more than one of the same pattern or plain color fabric), so you can lay these out over your existing furniture for a day or two. Take this time to evaluate how the colors change. 

Other influences on the color of your fabric will be the proximity to other colored items like walls, shelves, and plants. Consider how these influence the color of your fabric choices. 

14. Cleaning and Care

The fabric you choose to upholster your project will also be influenced by your cleaning and care requirements. If you have pets or young children, you probably want something you can wipe, wash, and vacuum to keep things clean. A fabric that’s delicate and not ideally washed or vacuumed will be a poor choice. 

Some upholstery fabrics are so delicate that dry cleaning is required or cleaning by a specialist upholstery cleaner, which can end up costing an arm and a leg in service fees. 

15. Mold Resistance and Hypoallergenic Qualities

Finally, fabric can be a huge sponge for environmental contaminants like spores, dust, and mites. When you look at upholstery fabric, you want something that won’t offer a hiding place for mold spores, which can seriously affect your respiratory health. Likewise, you wouldn’t want a fabric that will soak up dust and particles that can trigger allergies. 

Look for fabric that is mold resistant and hypoallergenic for a safe and protected home. 

The Final Check

When choosing upholstery fabric, it’s vital that you consider all aspects to ensure you choose the best fabric for your project, home, and budget. Investing in quality upholstery fabric can be a timeless investment as quality will last for many years still. Have fun choosing the best fabric for your upholstery needs, and choose from the huge selection at Kovi Fabrics for peace of mind and the best quality too.

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