Upholstery might not be a word to get your blood flowing, however the history of this constantly evolving category of fabric and the trade which serves as its namesake is fascinating for the expert and novice alike.
The history of upholstering is inextricably linked with that of tent-making. In fact, when the Upholsterers’ Company was granted charter in 1626 its coat of arms was a shield with three tents!
However, it wasn’t until the discovery that chairs could actually be comfortable that the upholsterer’s trade and the fabric he used for it began to come into its own and flourish.
Therefore, why don’t we examine some of the upholstery fabrics you can use to continue the noble tradition of the upholsterer right in your own home?
First off, when choosing what material you should use to upholster furniture, it is necessary to consider the value of the furniture and the usage to which it will be subjected. Also, the general décor of the room it will occupy should be taken into account.
The upholstery fabrics in our store comprise many textile varieties including bark cloth, chenille, tapestry, tweed, twill, ultra-suede and velvet among others. These are all beautiful, classy and durable fabrics of the highest quality.
With the expert advice of J & O Fabrics' staff and our magnificent range of fabrics at your disposal, you can confidently get your upholstery projects off the ground. Consult with J & O Fabrics... and upholstery will never bore you again!
How to Maintain Your Upholstery Fabric in Good Condition
Re-upholstering your furniture can be quite an expense. In order to maintain your upholstery in the best possible condition, follow these suggestions. With them, you will avoid unnecessary expenses.
Vacuum or lightly brush your upholstery fabrics weekly to guard against the accumulation of dust and soil and to prevent dirt from becoming embedded between the fibers. Also remember to rotate and turn your cushions weekly to prevent uneven wear. This will also balance exposure to sunlight.
Do not place newspapers directly on your upholstery fabric because the ink could permanently stain the fabric. Dyes, corrosives, acids, paints, inks, nail polish and chemical-based removers should not be used in the vicinity of your upholstered furniture.
Upholstered furniture should be kept out of direct sunlight to protect it from fading.
Cleaning Your Upholstery Fabric
A basic warning before you clean your upholstery fabrics is to never remove cushion covers for separate dry cleaning or washing. Doing so can destroy the backing and shrink or otherwise damage your upholstery fabric. The zipper is to make it easy to stuff the cushion filling into the fabric cover — not to remove it.
Gently blot up stains as quickly as possible with a clean, white towel being careful not to rub the fabric. If the substance spilled is thick (i.e. mud, candle wax, etc.), allow time for it to dry before prying it off and brushing away the residue. Prompt attention to stains increases success in removing them. Even stain-resistant finishes such as scotch-guard offer only temporary protection. Periodic cleaning by professional upholstery cleaners will maximize the lifespan of your upholstery.
If the fabric is velvet or faux suede, a very soft brush (such as a baby’s hairbrush) can be used for brushing the nap on these fabrics while cleaning.
Many upholstery fabrics are marked with a letter code that indicates the appropriate care for that particular fabric. The codes and their definitions are:
W: This code applies to such synthetic fibers as acetate, herculon, nylon, olefin and polyester.
Perhaps the most common, what this code indicates is that the fabric requires spot cleaning using only the foam from a water based cleaning agent. A mild detergent or non-solvent upholstery shampoo fits this description. To apply the foam, do so with a soft brush in a circular motion. Vacuum the upholstery when the area is dry. Always test the cleaning product on an inconspicuous area before proceeding. If the upholstery fabric requires more extensive cleaning, we recommend calling in professional upholstery cleaners.
X: Upholstery fabrics marked with this code should be vacuumed or brushed lightly to prevent the accumulation of dust and allergens. The foam of water-based cleaning agents or solvent-based cleaning products can potentially cause shrinking, fading or pile distortion.
S: This code is used to refer to protein based fibers such as cotton, linen, rayon, silk and wool. Other "S" coded fabrics are acrylic, damask, jacquard, tapestry, brocade, denim, velour and chintz if made from one of the above listed fibers.
To clean fabrics marked with this code simply spot clean the fabric using a mild, water-free solvent or dry cleaning product. Water based cleaning products may create water stains. Follow the usage direction for such products and make sure that the area you are cleaning in is well ventilated. Avoid products that contain carbon tetrachloride, which is highly toxic. Always test the cleaning product on an inconspicuous area before proceeding. If the upholstery fabric requires more extensive cleaning, we recommend calling in professional upholstery cleaners.
W-S: You can spot clean this type of upholstery fabric with a mild solvent or dry cleaning product. Follow the usage direction for such products and make sure that the area you are cleaning in is well ventilated. Avoid using products that contain the highly toxic ingredient carbon tetrachloride. An upholstery shampoo or the foam from a mild detergent can also be employed on upholstery fabrics with this code. Always test the cleaning product on an inconspicuous area before proceeding. If the upholstery fabric requires more extensive cleaning, we recommend calling in professional upholstery cleaners.
A Note on Stain Repellants
Upholstery fabrics treated with stain repellants provide barriers around the fibers. Therefore, most liquid spills will bead up on the surface of the fabric for easy blotting before it sets in to stain the fabric. However, a fabric's stain repellant properties do not make it waterproof. Keep in mind that the effectiveness of a stain repellant will deteriorate with the wear and abrasion caused by normal use.
How to Store Your Upholstery Fabrics
If you are going to store your upholstery fabrics for any period of time, be sure to have them properly laundered first to prevent dust, soil and stains from attracting critters. Furthermore, avoid storing your upholstery fabrics in attics, basements and other places that tend to be vulnerable to mold, mildew and insects and other threats. The best storage location is a cool, dry room. If using a closet, make sure there is sufficient air circulation to prevent mold growth. Always store your fabrics out of direct sunlight.
Your upholstery fabrics can be stored in bags of linen, cotton or muslin. Do not use plastic bags, cedar chests or cardboard boxes for storage. Fumes from polyurethane foam, cedar closets and acids in unvarnished wood and cardboard can damage your upholstery fabrics. Acid free tissue paper can also be employed in the storage of your upholstery fabrics.
If possible, store your upholstery fabrics on a roll rather than folded to prevent difficult to remove creases from forming. If folding the fabric is your only option, try to remove the fabric and refold it regularly to prevent permanent creasing.
* The above information is intended to aid our customers in their fabric projects. These suggestions are based on manufacturer's recommendations and customer insights. The above statements are not intended to be understood as unequivocal or applicable to every circumstance. Therefore, J&O Fabrics is not responsible for the results of the implementation of these cleaning methods.