A Chat With Verity du Sautoy – Her Thoughts On Winter Fabrics

Luxury Silk velvet From KOTHEA
Truly beautiful Cashmere Silk Velvet by KOTHEA

KOTHEA Fabric Picks For A Chilly Winter’s Day
With Verity du Sautoy of KOTHEA.

We love the seasons. All have their beauties and all have touched our senses in memorable ways over the years. Winter is no exception: lower, more balanced light; quietness and chaos with both the shopping and the weather; festive celebrations; the cuddle of a loved one; the hope and expectation of early spring flowers grasping for rare and tiny glimmers of light; and, perhaps, the welcomed warmth of a beautiful fabric.

Some of my best memories are centred on family: a warm fire; a little baby; or a bouncing toddler. Then an old children’s classic on the iPlayer watched on my Mac as it balances precariously on an elegant coffee table. I stroke my children’s hair with one hand and rest my other hand on my sofa. A generous cushion is warm, encapsulating and a bit of fun for the little ones to hide under. The curtains are not yet fully drawn but they smooth the boundary to the cold outside and give us tantalising glimpses of the world beyond – should we venture too close to the sheers that offer the final, soft protection from the elements.

Dominika B Tana Lawn

I work for a fabric company. I love fabric. I can’t pretend that it (fabric) is a be-all and end-all to life and that somehow it will make your life complete. It can’t. But what it clearly can do is complete the sensory experiences in the parts of life that, if you choose, you have control over…the parts of your home. Memories are not just photo-like snapshots in your brain; they are stored, multi-sensory splashes of emotion.

Here are my Winter picks. They are actual ‘picks’ that I’ve recently purchased or are about to purchase.

Take my sofa as an example. My sofa isn’t Continue reading “A Chat With Verity du Sautoy – Her Thoughts On Winter Fabrics”

Upholstery Velvet – Sourcing Luxury Velvet (Mohair) in The UK

Luxury Mohair Velvet For Upholstery
Luxury Mohair Velvet For Upholstery

Luxury Upholstery Velvet is notoriously difficult for interior designers to consistently source. Sourcing a generic velvet is easy enough but often velvets vary greatly in quality with many being relatively cheap and scoring relatively well with Martindale results but they just look ‘cheap’. The look and feel of the velvet are, after all, two of several important reasons why you are specifying it in the first place.

A further problem is composition. When, for example, you say you want a Mohair Velvet that is what you want: a velvet made out of Mohair and NOT lots of other things PLUS a bit of Mohair.

Whilst Mohair velvets are generally very good across the market they too can vary significantly in quality. So even when you buy a Mohair Velvet you are not necessarily getting the durable, luxury, fantastic looking product that you hoped for.

Further complications come when looking at Velvets made of a mix of yarns. Well, some of the mixed fibre yarns too are actually excellent in quality!

So I guess I’m saying that there really is no sure and fast way of knowing that what you are buying without actually seeing the fabric AND being assured of its technical characteristics, notably Martindale as we are considering upholstery here.

Most KOTHEA luxury upholstery velvets have inherent Martindale rub tests of in excess of 20,000 rubs with several collections exceeding 100,000 rubs fo contract usage – 20,000 Martindale being eminently suitable for domestic upholstery.

In addition to non-velvet, textured upholstery we have many luxury velvets suitable for upholstery including Italian Silk Velvet (high quality, luxury velvet), Cashmere & Silk Velvet (the ultimate velvet), trevira Velvet (inherent fire retardancy), Mohair Velvet (high quality, luxury velvet),

Most of our velvet is available by the metre with no minimum quantities.

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.

Click To Read More Interior Design Articles
Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

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

Fabric Abbreviations, Material Composition On Textile Labels For Interior Designers

Click To Read More Interior Design Articles
Click To Read More Interior Design BUSINESS & TECHNICAL Information.

Fabric labels often have abbreviations and some of these generally accepted abbreviations are for non-English words. So here is a handy little reference chart for all you interior designers out there showing what all those pesky abbreviations mean. Please comment if any are missing.

Also reference here is a list of fabric qualities and what they are (eg boucle, chenille, chintz, crepe)

WO – Wool (Sheep by default)

WV – Virgin Fleece Wool

WP – Alpaca Wool

WL – Lama Wool

WS – Cashmere Goat a.k.a. Kaschmir and Cachemire and (incorrectly) Kashmir

WM – Mohair (Goat) Wool

SE – Silk / Seide

CO – Cotton / Baumwolle

LI – Flax / Linen

HA – Hemp / Hanf

CV – Viscose

CMD – Modal

CLY – Lyocell

PA – Nylon / Polyamid

PES – Polyester

PUR – Polyurethane

EL – Elastane aka spandex

ME – Metallic

AF – Other Fibers

Some Italian Translations and Abbreviations:

WP – can also mean baby alpaca Wool

VI – also means viscose

WK – camel hair wool

WA – angora wool

PBT -polyester

EA – elastane

PC – acrylic

PM – polyester

For more information on luxury cashmere throws or to request cuttings please visit www.kothea.com.  For black faux leather upholstery fabrics try <here> and for mohair velvet and mohair velvet upholstery fabric please follow the links.  Upholstery Linen is also one of our specialities as are luxury  silk velvet  fabrics.

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.

Click To Read More Interior Design Articles
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

KOTWIG – New Farbic From KOTHEA

KOTHEA Release New Fabric For Interiors

LONDON, England. 04-MAY-2009 11.30 AM: KOTHEA today announced it has expanded its product range by the addition of KOTWIG. KOTWIG has an off-the-wall textured design. It has a high Martindale score which is unusually achieved without incorporating polyester. It is highly suitable for a wide range of uses including heavy upholstery and wall treatments in either domestic or contract installations.

Flickr Image Of KOTWIG
Flickr Image Of KOTWIG

Full information can be found <here>.

KOTWIG

Reference: 14-002-436

Colour Shown: Brown – Light Brown

Other colourways: 20

Width: 145cm

Repeat: None

Composition: 43% Linen, 36% Viscose, 21% Cotton.

Martindale: 40,000 ‘rubs’

Primary Usage: General upholstery or wall treatments, contract & domestic.

Type of fabric: Textured Weave

About KOTHEA.

KOTHEA are a top-market fabric house based in London serving customers throughout all of Europe and The Middle East. Founded in 1999 they have since continued to develop and sell an extensive range of timeless fabrics to the top architects, interior- and yacht-designers for projects ranging from mega-yachts to boutique hotels and from luxury spas to penthouses.

KOTHEA operate on a trade-only basis and their fabrics are available to the public through interior designers and specialist interior design shops such as Gotham, Interiors Bis and Fiona Campbell. KOTHEA also supply beautiful hand-woven linen fabrics and finished goods – throws and table linen.

KOTHEA’s trade customers would perceive their signature fabrics to include several ranges of velvet including the exclusive ‘cashmere silk velvet’, silks, linens, double-width sheers, faux leather and interesting weaves for upholstery often with high Martindale ‘rub tests’ making them highly suited to both contract and residential projects.

Founder and Executive Director, Lisa Parsons started KOTHEA more than 10 years ago after 11 highly successful years with Nobilis Fontan in Chelsea and Donghia in Chelsea Harbour. She says, “At KOTHEA we like to think we bring something a little different to the market. Our difference will be reflected in our customers’ eyes by unusual fabrics that complement our core fabric ranges; all augmented by our excellent levels of customers service, market knowledge and attention to detail.”

Synthetic Dyes and Their Development

If you’re reading this you’ve probably already read my very brief history of natural dyes. The rest of the following discussion is not quite so brief and does get quite technical in a chemical sense but I’ve tried to omit as much of that as possible to make the information accessible to normal readers like you and me.

Within the space of 50 years, mankind had changed almost totally from natural dyes to synthetic ones. Phase 1 of this change was the addition of Chromium. The subsequent, often parallel, phases are discussed below with a bias towards how they apply to fabrics.

The 8 subsequent developments of synthetic dyes from Chromium onwards are:
(1. Chromium)
2. Triphenylmethane dyes
3. Anthraquinone dyes
4. Xanthene and related dyes
5. Azo dyes
6. Reactive dyes
7. Phthalocyanine compounds
8. Quinacridone compounds
9. Fluorescent brighteners

Phase 2: Triphenylmethane dyes

In 1858 Verguin (France) discovers ‘fuchsine’ a rose coloured dye made from aniline and tin chloride. This was the first of a series of dyes later called Triphenylmethanes and this marked the second phase of the growth of the synthetic dye industry. Adding excess aniline made aniline blue. Soon other variations were discovered and the chemistry understood; and before 1900 several hundred colours had been documented.

One problem with these dyes was solubility. That was overcome by the addition of sulphuric acid.

Phase 3: Anthraquinone dyes

In the 1850s and 1860s, the understanding of how carbon is structured (tetravalency) led to scientists being able to plan how chemicals might react before doing the experiments. Alizarin and its derivatives (the anthraquinones) gave a huge number of dyes which constitute the second biggest grouping of dyes.

The addition of sulphur created a group of bright, fast dyes for wool. Indrathone blue, a brilliant blue vat dye, was discovered at the turn of the century and related compounds are still today used as pigments spanning colours from blue to yellow.

Phase 4: Xanthene related dyes

Fluorescein was discovered in 1871 but related discoveries were seldom used with fabrics until the late 1880s when some were used for silk. However, the dyes had poor lightfastness and usage was stopped – only to be re-used 70 years later when they were found to be particularly good on acrylic fibres. Better products have been found since and now only one chemical dye in this class is used commercially (Safranine T).

Phase 5: Azo dyes

These form more than half of the commercial dyes used today.

The key is the reaction of nitrous acid with arylamine and then with phenols and arylamines. This chemical reaction forms part of the production process of 50% of dyes in use today having been used since 1875, firstly for wool.

Methyl- related azo dyes were used extensively up until the 1970s but this has now stopped in many countries as they were carcinogenic.

The discovery of the azo dyes led to the development of a method called ingrain dyeing. Here the dye is ‘made’ within the fabric. Since the process was carried out at around freezing point, some dyes were called ice colours. In 1912 Naphtol was found to form a water-soluble compound with an affinity for cotton, a major step in the development of the ingrain dyes. Naphtol is able to form a great number of possible end colours although many of these are not adequately colourfast.

Other Azo dyes became the most important commercial colourants because of their wide colour range, good fastness properties, and tinctorial strength (colour density), which is twice that of the anthraquinones, the second most important group of dyes. Azo dyes are easily prepared from many readily available, inexpensive compounds and meet the demands of a wide range of end uses. Cost advantages tend to offset the fact that these are less brilliant and less lightfast than the anthraquinones.

Phase 6: Reactive dyes

Reactive dyes are very adaptable and can create a huge number of colours.

The first reactive dyes utilized monoazo for bright yellow and red shades. Adding aniline gave the azo dye used in the first Procion Red.

Dichlorotriazinyl dyes are now produced by more than 30 dye manufacturers since the early patents on these dyes have expired.

With the introduction of reactive dyes, cotton could finally be dyed in bright shades with azo dyes for yellows to reds, with anthraquinones for blues, and with copper phthalocyanines for bright turquoise colours.

Phase 7: Phthalocyanine compounds

Phthalocyanines, the most important chromium derivatives developed in the 20th century being introduced in 1934 and marketed as Monastral Fast Blue B and Monastral Fast Blue G.

Copper phthalocyanine is the most important and can be formed directly on cotton. Although not useful for PET and acrylics, some complexes are utilized with nylon. Chemical bleaching alters the shade to bluish-green and green.

Water-soluble versions were developed later by the introduction of sulphur-based chemicals also producing a direct dye for cotton (Chlorantine Fast Turquoise Blue Gll), the first commercial phthalocyanine dye.

Such colourants all display strong, bright blue to green shades with remarkable chemical stability. These compounds exhibit excellent lightfastness, and their properties are in striking contrast to those of natural pigments that are destroyed by intense light or heat and mild chemical reagents. The high stability, strength, and brightness of the phthalocyanines render them cost-effective, illustrated by the wide use of blue and green labels on many products.

Phase 8: Quinacridone compounds

A second group of pigments developed in the 20th century were the quinacridone compounds. Quinacridone itself was introduced in 1958. Its seven crystalline forms range in colour from yellowish-red to violet.

Phase 9: Fluorescent brighteners

Raw natural fibres, paper, and plastics tend to appear yellowish because of weak light absorption. Bleaching can reduce this but the bleach must be mild to avoid damaging the material. Alternatively, a bluing agent can mask the yellowish tint to make the material ‘appear’ whiter (hence the phrase a ‘bluey whiteness’), or the material can be treated with a fluorescent compound that weakly emits blue visible light. These compounds, also called “optical brighteners,” they are not dyes in the usual sense. The major industrial applications are as textile finishers, pulp and paper brighteners.

Well done for getting this far!