Monday, March 21, 2016

Another Upholstery Project

In my search for living room upholstery fabric, I have become a fan of Palazzo Fabrics and Robert Allen Design. They both have a fantastic upholstery fabric selection and easy search tools. And, even more important, they include information about how durable a fabric is. Both sites report how many double rubs a piece of fabric can withstand before it starts to show noticeable wear.

The Robert Allen Design site caters to interior designers, but you can drop in there and find fabrics you like then do a google search on the name to find retailers selling them. I found several acceptable options. Palazzo Fabrics also has an impressive stock of heavy duty upholstery fabrics (35K+ double rubs) and they send free samples.

Anyway, the fabric I bought last time was just some random unbranded upholstery fabric I picked up from Fabric Depot. I chose it for its color palette, but I've since learned it's pretty crappy durability-wise. It's four years old and these loveseats have maybe gotten two years of regular daily use. But the fabric is stretched out, has threads pulled and is dirty. Dirty I can fix, I can't do much about the other two.

Therefore, I've decided to go ahead and replace the fabric on these couches with something darker and more durable. I wanted it to have a pattern, but read as solid from a distance. Ultimately, the pattern I chose isn't specifically period, but is similar enough to period fabrics to not scream "MODERN" and the green is a good match to the new rug.
These are some of the period prints I thought were similar.
Furnishing Fabric, 1911, England
Furnishing Fabric, 1910, England
Textile (England), ca. 1910
There are more with a similar feel, but you guys get the idea. LOL

I've obviously got a lot of work ahead of me figuring out how to do all this upholstery. The construction of the cushions looks to be fairly straight forward, though not necessarily easy. They're basicly rectangular bags with a zipper. I am going to practice by making a set in muslin first, before cutting into my replacement upholstery fabric. I've got pretty good sewing skills, so I believe I can do it.

I'm also considering pre-washing the replacement upholstery fabric so it will be machine washable after I've made the cushion covers. I've washed the fabric sample and it held up fine to laundering but it shrank a lot. It was 5" wide, but is only 4.5" after washing. I'm going to continue to wash this sample while I wait for the fabric and see how it goes after a couple more washings, then I will decide.

I did also investigate William Morris fabrics, which I really love, and I found a pretty good source for them in UK: Fabrics & Papers. Had I found something in the right color scheme and high durability, I would have been sorely tempted. But every time I found a pattern I wanted, it said it was for curtains. This acanthus was the only fabric I was really tempted by, but there was just too much purple. If that purple had been burgundy, I might have gotten stupid.

Celtic Knot Brick
I also checked out Archive Editions. My favorite fabric is sold out. It's just as well, since I don't want to spend $90/yard. And they don't include any information about how durable this fabric is. Just because it's expensive, doesn't mean it's going to last any longer than the cheap stuff I bought last time.


  1. I'd be happy to offer help and suggestions for your upholstery project. What exactly are you upholstering?

    Another good fabric brand that I really like is Barrow. They have a huge selection, and I like the thickness and feel of the majority of their fabrics. For something like a sofa that's used daily, you want something with at least 10,000 double rubs. Commercial fabrics go up to 200,000 or more (double rubs) but the fabrics in those ranges tend to look and feel more like car upholstery material (rough).

    Keep in mind the size of the repeat. Some of them are small (every 2-3 inches) while others repeat about every 2 feet. The larger your repeat, the more fabric you will need to centre all your pieces (more waste).

    1. Thank you JC. I'm going to try and recover the removable cushions on my mission loveseats and cube chair. I will go check out Barrow, but it is too late; I already ordered the fabric. :) Thanks!