When it comes to home interiors and soft furnishings there really is a vast range of curtain and upholstery fabrics to choose from, all with varying attributes for certain applications. To ensure you start your project off with the right foundations, you need to be selecting a fabric that is most suited to its purpose.
There are various textile constructions/qualities that fall within five fabric “types” we describe in our earlier article here.
In this two-part article we will discuss the most commonly manufactured constructions that you see in the market today.
Damasks are traditional jacquard fabrics, which were originally woven in a single colour, where the design and ground are in contrasting weaves, (generally using warp-faced and weft-faced satin weaves).
Felt is matted fabric with a predominantly woollen composition. There are two types of felt, woven and un-woven. Felting of woven wool fabric is achieved by interlocking the natural scales on the surface of wool fibres through heat, moisture, steam, pressure and friction.
A small jacquard pattern on a lightweight fabric, in which the fil/weft threads connecting each pattern/motif are cut and removed from the reverse of the fabric leaving the remaining pattern/motif with frayed edges.
Polyvinyl chloride (commonly abbreviated as PVC or referred to as vinyl) is the third-most widely produced polymer after polyethylene and polypropylene. It should not be washed with cleaning solvents, but more specifically only a mixture of gentle soap and warm water.
Polyurethane (PU) is becoming an equally important vinyl composition as it has a stronger resilience to cleaning solutions than PVC. Where PVC cracks, breaks down and loses its plasticiser (compound that keeps it soft) through exposure to alkaline cleaning chemicals, PU does not. It has a natural resilience to being cleaned and therefore is a suitable polymer to be used in healthcare and other frequently cleaned environments.
Topical finishes can be applied to PVC vinyls to achieve the same cleaning performance as PU but these topical finishes can rub off with heavy wear.
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Lenos are transparent woven fabrics, where warp yarns are made to diagonally cross other warp yarns by a special mechanism on the loom. This allows for weft yarns to be widely spaced and firmly held in place and produces an open and mostly transparent fabric.
Ikat fabrics are produced by resist dyeing methods of patterning yarn for warp and/or weft. Predetermined sections of yarn are bound tightly before dyeing to prevent penetration of the dye into the tied sections. When the yarn is woven the cloth shows characteristic blurred edges to the pattern, partly from movement or redistribution of the warp when put onto the loom, and partly from bleeding and capillary action.
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Lace fabrics are delicate, open-work fabrics usually with a ground of mesh or net on which patterns are created either as the ground is made or at a later stage. The yarns in the construction are looped, twisted or knitted to achieve the openness of the fabric and the pattern.
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Are soft, double cloth or compound fabrics which have a quilted surface effect and are made on Jacquard looms. Matelassé fabrics show surface effects such as blistered, puckered, quilted or wadded depending on the construction used.
Synthetic fibre that is spun extra thin (less than 1 denier). Made from a variety of synthetics such as polyester and rayon, microfibre can be made to resemble natural products such as suede leather or silk. Microfibre fabrics are woven/ knitted very tightly to keep dust and other allergens from seeping inside, they are also stain resistant (Spilt liquid initially forms into beads making it easy to wipe away with a dry cloth).
• Microsuede – A soft type of microfibre created with 100% polyester and is designed to look and feel like real suede.
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Fabrics which have a moiré or wavy watermark pattern. This is produced in finishing by calendering, usually on a fabric showing a rib or cord effect in the weft direction. The moiré effect can be achieved either by embossing with a roller engraved with a moiré pattern, or by feeding two layers of fabric face to face through a calendering machine. The effect may be permanent or temporary depending on the fibres and chemicals used.
Moquette fabrics are firm, woven warp-pile fabrics where the pile yarns are lifted over wires, which may or may not have knives. Withdrawal of the wires will either give a cut or an uncut pile creating a loop. Moquette fabrics are robust and therefore provide longevity to furniture facing excessive wear.