Fabric Tips #13: Velvet Curtain Making

Image by tenz1225 via Flickr

Here are some additional pointers to consider when you are making a curtain using a velvet. Remember that a velvet is just a type of fabric and the fibre(s) that the velvet is made from is important.

So for example, we would always recommend that you line a curtain. This gives a superior appearance but also reduced the amount of light going through the fabric hence limiting as much as possible the effect of any fading.

If the velvet has a pile that can be flattened in one direction then we would recommend that you have the pile going downwards for SHINY velvet fabrics and PATTERNED VELVETS.

If however you make up the curtain with the pile upwards then this will deepen the colour so you could make the curtains this way for cotton velvets and Trevira Velvet and Mohair velvets.

These are general guidelines and it is not necessarily wrong if you make up the curtain ‘the other way’ just so long as you understand the implications to the finished look and performance of the material.

Fabric Tips #12: Rolling a velvet

Alpaca-wool.
Image via Wikipedia

You’ve just ordered a new velvet and unrolled it to admire your purchase. But how do you re-roll it?

When you roll almost any fabric you should have the face on the inside. With a velvet this is the pile so you have the pile on the inside.

Some, but not all, velvet piles stand straight up others will ‘lay down’. for the former it does not matter which way you then roll the fabric (provided the pile is on the inside). However for typically longer pile which lays down (ie you can brush it flat with your hand in one direction only) then you should roll the fabric down the pile as you return it to its roll.

Hopefully that made sense. Good luck.

Fabric Tips #11: Mohair Velvet – How To Store

Alpaca-wool can be made into luxurious alpaca velvet
Image via Wikipedia – Alpaca Wool can be made into luxurious alpaca velvet…if you can find it

How to store Velvet.

The same instructions apply to all velvets.

Some background first: As an interior designer you buy and handle many fabrics. You may have wondered why some fabrics come in rolls of up to 100m whereas other come in much smaller lengths. Is this because of their value? The likelihood of them being sold quickly enough? Or perhaps longer lengths of some fabrics would be just to heavy for someone in a warehouse to physically carry or indeed too heavy for a courier to carry? Or perhaps it’s something to do with the thickness of the roll?

Well there is some truth no doubt in all of these reasons and others to. But one very important consideration with a velvet and especially with a Mohair velvets is the weight of the fabric and the weight of the fabric ON ITSELF. Because velvets have a pile they are thicker and heavier than other fabrics as they contain more material; similarly some velvets such as many mohair velvets have a dense pile…again more fabric and more weight.

There comes a point when the sheer weight of the roll of fabric becomes too much for the pile of the first part of the wrapped fabric on the roll and the inherent weight of all the fabric can cause damage to the pile. So velvets and especially mohair velvets have smaller lengths on the roll. Sometimes 25m but sometimes also 40m and 50m per roll.

So the length of fabric on a roll will be impacted by the weight of the fabric per linear metre AND the fact that a pile fabric can be more affected by added weight than other fabric.

So, how to store.

1. Store horizontally

2. Store with no other, external weight applied to the fabric.

3. Covered up to avoid exposure to dirt and dust i the air  -especially if stored for long periods

Typically you will find that many of our velvets come to you in special containers where the velvet is on a roll and suspended by special cardboard ends in the boxes. For small volumes of velvet on a single roll there is often no need for these special containers. Where the velvets are supplied in suspended roll containers it is safe to store the velvet in this form. Ideally youwould have a horizontal racking system for rolls of fabric as lengths can easily be cut off as and when you need them but cleary most interior designers do not have this facility.

The safest method of course is to let your supplier hold the stock and order cut lengths from them. It de-risks you damaging the fabric. Unless of course the supplier can specifically reserve entire rolls just for you, you would have the potential problem of dye lot or batch variation of colour with many fabric dyes. There would normally be a charge for an additional service such as this.

Upholstery Linen – Sourcing Luxury Upholstery Linen in the UK

Upholstery Linen
Upholstery Linen

Upholstery Linen is notoriously difficult for interior designers to source. Sourcing linens for curtains is easy enough but often linens are not woven with sufficient strength to score Martindale results that are high enough to warrant using the fabric for upholstery.

Some suppliers can be a little evasive and will quote the weight of the linen as a measure of the linen’s quality. The implicaiton being that the higher the weight the better suited the fabric will be for upholstery. There is some thuth in that implication but you cannot say for certain that a high weight linen is inherently suitable for upholstery. Get the Martindale!

Most KOTHEA luxury upholstery linens have inherent Martindale rub tests of around 20,000 rubs with one range further strengthened to 85,000 rubs for contract usage – 20,000 Martindale being eminently suitable for domestic upholstery.

Furthermore when buying upholstery- (or curtain-) linen you need to know whether or not it will shrink when washed. Linen ALWAYS shrinks. So what you have to find out is whether or not it has been pre-shrunk before you buy it. A common way of pre-shrinking linen is through the sanforisation process.

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Here are the details of our new 2011 upholstery linens that are named Recline, Relax and Restful. We have many others, these are just the new ones:

Name: Recline

Usage: Luxury Contract Upholstery

Colourways: 24

Width:   135cm

Comp:  54% Li 35% Co 11% Pa

Weight: >350g/m2

Notes:   Martindale >85,000

Request Samples

Name: Relax

Usage: Luxury Domestic Upholstery

Colourways: 24

Width:  135cm

Comp: 100% Li

Weight: >265 g/m2

Notes:   Martindale >15,000

Request Samples

Name: Restful

Usage: Heavyweight Luxury Domestic Upholstery

Colourways: 4

Width:  135cm

Comp: 100% Li

Weight: >470 g/m2

Notes:   Martindale >45,000

Request Samples

Contract Upholstery Fabric – How to Specify It

Here is a VERY quick guide to specifying contract fabrics. Contract Fabrics 101 if you like. It shows you the main areas you need to consider.

1. Determine Use

Is it panelling or seating? for the latter you will need to consider flammability (cigarette, match and crib 5) and abrasion (Martindale)

2. Fabric Composition

The composition of the fabric including the yarn and weave will affect the fabric’s long term wear, appearance and technical performance.

Natural fabrics such as wool can be more expensive but generally offer good feel and technical characteristics such as natural flame retardancy.

Man-made fabrics usually are more easily cared for but can look cheap if not properly chosen.

3. Flammability

The single standard for contract seating which is acceptable throughout the EU is EN 1021 Parts 1 and 2 (cigarette and match). Higher level standards in the UK are BS 5852 and BS 7176.

The standard which applies to vertical surface fabrics is BS 476 Part 7.

4. Abrasion

You should be looking at the Martindale properties of the fabric. <Here> is more information on the Martindale rub test.

5. Environmental Considerations

Generally natural fibres like wool are good. And man-made ones less so, NYLON is not great.

6. Care and maintenance

Generally contract fabrics will look bad because of dirt rather than because they wear out. So follow the manufacturers instructions on care and maintenance.  Basically wipe away stains quickly and vacuum clean regularly.

Black Velvet – Even Better Italian Silk Velvet In Black

Black Velvet – only to be enjoyed by those who appreciate that black is the new black! KOTHEA have a range of velvets with shades of black colourways in most of those velvet collections.

Black Diamond” is the colourway name for the Italian Silk Velvet (100% Silk Pile) with the code 777-108-900.

You can get black silk velvet samples here from KOTHEA if you are a trade professional. Just click the link.

KOTHEA velvets are the best in the market. We only sell top market fabrics, mostly to top European Interior Designers and Architects. Here are some more bits of technical information on our black Italian Silk velvet fabric:

Width: 140cm

Composition: 100% Silk Pile

No repeat, plain.

Abrasion: Martindale 20,000.

Available from stock, normal delivery within 5 days.

Minimum Order length: 2m

What is fabric sanforisation, sanforised, sanforising?

interior design oxford rogue designs
Image by rogue-designs via Flickr

Sanforising is a finishing technique for already woven fabric.

Interior Designers do not need to know the detail of exactly what happens. So, in brief, the process is usually associated with cotton fabric and often also with shirting fabric. The idea behind sanforising is to pre-shrink the fabric. Clearly any shrinkage after the fabric has been made up may cause problems and Interior Designers DO need to be aware of that!

When sanforised fabric is subsequently made up into curtains or used on upholstery the naturally occurring effects of fabric stretching are reduced, but like many natural fabrics some further shrinkage could occur.

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Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

As a general rule: more tightly woven fabrics tend to shrink less.

The sanforisation process involves stretching and heating damp fabric over a series of rollers

Cashmere Throws – Luxury Refined From KOTHEA

Cashmere is the most exclusive wool practically available for interiors use. It is sometimes called Pashmina, and a few other things, but essentially Cashmere is what the wool really is and it rarely comes from Kashmir!

There are one or two wools that are possibly ‘better’ (ie warmer or softer) but they are extremely expensive (such as Vicuna). They are SO expensive and ‘rare’ that you will never come across them in reality unless you work in a very niche area of the fashion fabrics market. I have never even heard about such fabrics being available for interiors use, let alone seen or touched them. Although I would imagine it would not be dissimilar from cashmere!

Which brings me back to Cashmere Throws.

Maybe you already have a Cashmere Throw, or possibly a Cashmere scarf. They feel wonderful. It is not just marketing hype either, there are a variety of technical reasons why the Cashmere yarn makes fabrics that are warmer and softer to the touch than any other woolen yarn.

Yet there remains a huge variation in price from one Cashmere throw to the next. Why?

We have struggled to answer that question ourselves. Cashmere Throws can retail at £2,000. Yet the quality is only very good. Scarves too can easily cost several hundreds of pounds (and upwards).

So we are about to release Cashmere Throws that are better than everyone else. We are using: higher quality, thicker yarns than anyone else; sourcing our own designs, qualities and colours from the best mills.

I can guarantee that if you put one of our throws next to any competing alternative you would always choose a KOTHEA Cashmere Throw. We would even let our competitor choose the criteria that they wish to compete on! We are SO confident that our throws win on all counts.

Or you could go and buy one for £2,000 from somewhere else and be unsure that you have the best.

The Cigarette & Match Tests BS 5852

The Cigarette & Match Tests BS 5852 are fire retardancy tests for residential upholstery. This document is intended to be read by interior designers and as such you do not need to understand the details of the tests. Interior designers must, however, ensure that they comply with the associated British Standards by ensuring that the fabrics they specify are fit for that purpose.

You can download this document by clicking on the pdf icon.

  1. If you are sourcing furniture for your client then the vendor of the furniture needs to provide you with appropriate information to prove compliance.
  2. If you are specifying fabric for furniture to be made up, then you need to ask the fabric supplier for the fabric’s compliance to the standards and/or arrange fire treatment.
  3. You will need to ensure that you have specified the appropriate fabrics for the visible and non-visible parts of the furniture.
  4. You will need to liaise with your upholsterer to ensure that any additional materials such as foam and fabric lining are adequate.

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The cigarette and match tests fall under BS 5852. The test(s) involve the fabric being exposed to different ‘ignition sources’ essentially simulating possible real life causes of domestic fires. The ‘ignition sources’ are ways that the fabric could plausibly be burnt. There are 8 different sources/types of combustion but you only normally need to deal with sources 0, 1 and 5.
Source 0 = Cigarette (smouldering cigarette)
Source 1 = Match (simulated match)
Source 5 = Crib. (Wooden crib or Crib 5)

Source 5, or Crib 5 as it is frequently know as, is usually a contract standard for upholstery. In contract upholstery you might also come across BS 7176 which determines specific risk or hazard areas that your fabric is being installed into. In simple terms, BS 7176 covers all 3 of the above tests. Furthermore, whilst Crib 5 is the highest standard of the 3 tests it does not follow that a fabric which passes Crib 5 will also pass the cigarette and match test – even though it is likely to.

Exceptions, Mandates & Exemptions

  • Fabric is exempted if it is 75% by weight of cotton, silk, viscose, wool i.e. 75% natural fibres. A FR inter-liner must also be used to keep the exemption.
  • Furniture MUST IN ALL CASES pass the cigarette test. No exceptions.
  • Cigarette Test will be undertaken using standard foam – this presents a worst-case scenario.
  • For fabrics that do not inherently pass the required test then treatments are usually available, often where the back side of the fabric is coated with a fire resistant substance not affecting the look and feel of the fabric
  • For already made-up furniture, we doubt that it is possible to treat it retrospectively to pass the tests. However it may be possible to prove that the fabrics that have already been used are in fact compliant.

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