Some fabrics can be too fragile for use as upholstery unless knit backed. Knit backing is a process whereby, for example, a cotton polyester backing is applied to a lighter weight chenille, silk or cotton.
Essentially the fabric‘s life is increased with better durability and resilience. The handling characteristics of the fabric can be improved; and knit backing also helps prevent seam slippage.
The same principle applies for the fabric whether or not it is to be used for either upholstery or wall covering. There will certainly be other requirements for contract usage, say, in hotels and aviation and also other treatments like fire retardancy or stain protection would be required for contract upholstery.
We are often asked to recommend fabric treatment companies for flame retarding in contract installations. Most treatment companies offer other services such as; back coating fabric for walls and stain resistance/repellency. There are several such companies in the UK and at various times we have used all of the following:
Just click the company name to take you to their web site. Please feel free to add comments to this posting recommending any suppliers you have used but any negative comments about other companies are not permitted on this site. Thank you.
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.
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.
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, luxurious, 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 are actually excellent in quality!
So I guess I’m saying that there really is no sure and fast way of knowing 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 for 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.
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.
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.
Raffia adds texture as a wallcovering. As a natural product it has many benefits for the interior designer including a degree of thermal insulation and the ability to be adhered directly to wall surfaces or fastened to wall surfaces or ceiling when wrapped around wooden panels.
With Wyzenbeek rubs of 40,000 KOTHEA’s 2011 Raffia (Raphia) are also eminently suitable for a wide range of upholstery uses.
Raffias can usually be fire treated to meet a wide range of contract requirements including hotels and marine installations.
This type of raffia weave has been used for thousands of years perhaps most famously as Japanese Tatami mats. They are of course one of today’s modern day design staples for a clean, modern look.
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 implication is that the higher the weight the better suited the fabric will be for upholstery. There is some truth in that implication but you cannot say for certain that 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.
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: