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Fabulous Fabrics

Published:
17/08/2015
Author:
Lucy Sutherland

No matter what type of fabric you are considering, there are some important factors to consider before you get seduced by the beautiful colour and pattern that originally caught your eye. 

Natural fabrics

1) Cotton
Cotton is a versatile and strong fabric. It is breathable, which makes comfortable. It has good durability and resistance to fading and pilling. 
However, cotton is less resistant to wrinkling, soil and fire, so be careful using it in its purest form in areas that are bound to get dirty and marked. 
To add more durability to your cotton, try a cotton-synthetic combination and consider the addition of fabric protection will help keep it clean. Use it for cushion covers, occasional chairs and dining room chairs.

2) Linen
This type of fabric has a very distinctive and natural look. It soils and wrinkles easily so it is not recommended for family living areas. Linen is best suited to elegant table coverings, bed sheets and formal living rooms far away from children and pets.  

3) Wool
Wool is a very hardy fabric that is longwearing and sturdy. In its purest form, it can be a little scratchy to sit on. A wool/synthetic blend is a much better option as it is easier to clean and has good resistance to soil, wrinkling, fading and pilling. It can easily be spot cleaned. 
Wool blends are perfect for cosy couches in winter retreats. It does get warm however, so avoid using it in summer living rooms and areas that are already susceptible to heat. 

4) Leather
Leather is a tough and robust material perfect for families and busy living areas. It can withstand most things and is easy to clean and maintain. It suits large, comfy lounges. Leather can be susceptible to scratching however, so avoid it if you have pets that like to jump up on the furniture. 

Synthetic fabrics

Today, engineered fabrics have some of the same beautiful aesthetic qualities of natural fabrics, but are much more durable and hard wearing. For the best of both worlds, look for a blend of both synthetic and natural materials. This gives you all of the benefits of the strength of synthetics, combined with the desirable qualities of a natural textile. 

1) Acrylic
This is the most colourfast fabric and is resistant to stains. One of its strongest qualities is that it is doesn’t fade in direct sunlight. It is quick drying and isn’t susceptible to mould. 
Acrylic is used best when blended with natural fabrics to give them extra durability. The most common use for acyclic blends is in outdoor fabrics where durability and performance is more important than texture and tactility. 

2) Polyester 
Polyester is a versatile fibre and can be made to recreate the look of natural products like cotton and silk, while also retaining the durability of a man-made fibre. In its purest form, it can be very hot to sit on and a bit tricky to clean. Look for a blended option - it is a much more suitable alternative for upholstery. 

3) Microsuede and microfibre 
These fabrics have become firm favourites over the years for their durability, stain resistance and long-wearing qualities. While the look of microsuede may not very popular, it is a great option for pet owners and families who need a hard-wearing alternative. 

Lucy Sutherland is the general manager of the International School of Colour and Design (iscd). Iscd offers a range of workshops, short courses and industry-driven diplomas at their North Sydney campus or via distance education. For more information, phone 9114 5988 or visit iscd.edu.au. 

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