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Common types of fabric construction for curtains and upholstery - Part 2

Selecting a fabric construction that suits your project is essential to optimizing the look, feel and longevity of your furniture and drapes. While the number of options may seem daunting, allow us to breakdown the most commonly manufactured constructions in this two-part article.

Delve back into part one to refresh your fabric knowledge and feel like an expert in the showroom.

These popular textile constructions also fit neatly into the five basic fabric styles, described here in our earlier article

SATIN/SATEEN

This type of fabric is woven in a satin weave and typically has a glossy surface and a dull reverse. Satins tend to have a strong luster due to the high number of floats on the fabric surface. 

If a fabric is formed with a satin weave using filament fibres such as silk, nylon, or polyester, the corresponding fabric is termed a “satin”, although some definitions insist that the fabric be made from silk only. If the yarns used are short-staple yarns such as cotton, the fabric formed is considered a "sateen". 

OMBRÉ

Ombré fabrics show a graduated or shaded effect of colour, usually ranging from light to dark tones of one colour. The term ombré describes any fabric with a dyed, printed or woven design in which the colour is graduated from light to dark. 

NOTE: Floats are missed interlacing, where the warp yarn lies on top of the weft. 

SHEER

Sheers are fine and transparent fabrics which, when used at the window, create a sense of movement and allow light to enter a room whilst also offering privacy. They can also help slow down deterioration of your soft furnishings from sunlight and UV degradation. 

Sheers are available in various densities, weaves and widths, with some qualities being weighted on one selvedge. Historically weighted selvedges were made from lead however it is common nowadays for these to be made from zinc. Although the weighted hem gives a finished look and allows the sheer to drape well, their use can be restricted by room height. 

Architectural homes often have studs higher than 3.2m; in this situation, some sheers can be hung ‘wide width’ with the selvedge’s joined together to create an appropriate height drop (if you’re using a weighted sheer, just trim the weight off first). 

Sheer fabrics are often used with a coloured lining to create a main drape, whether they’re hung on a separate track or not depends on the desired outcome. Linings come in a wide variety of finishes and colours to produce a decorative look. 

SUEDE

Suede fabrics are woven or knitted cloths, in which the face of the fabric is finished to resemble suede leather.

Sourced from Pinterest: Three Birds Renovations

Sourced from Pinterest: Three Birds Renovations

TAFFETA

Taffeta fabrics are tightly woven, smooth, crisp fabrics with a slight weft direction rib and were originally made from continuous filament silk yarn, but are now often made using other fibres, particularly polyester.

Sourced from Pinterest: Faux Silk Taffeta Black out curtains

Sourced from Pinterest: Faux Silk Taffeta Black out curtains

TAPESTRY

Modern tapestry constructions are based on those that were traditionally woven on a vertical loom and have been in use for centuries. Tapestries form only a small part of the upholstery market and are often used for more decorative applications due to its delicate nature and heavy weight.

Sourced from Pinterest: Arhaus

Sourced from Pinterest: Arhaus

TARTAN

Tartans are originally woollen twill fabrics, which were woven in checks of various colours and worn by Scottish clans. Tartans are now descriptive of a wider range of fabrics with this type of patterning and are sometimes called plaids.

Sourced from pinterest: Left to right
1st dibs
Harvey Furnishings

Sourced from pinterest: Left to right

1st dibs

Harvey Furnishings

TOILE

Toile de Jouy is a type of decorative fabric consisting of a usually white or off-white background on which a repeated pattern depicting a fairly complex scene is shown. The motifs are generally printed and consist of a single colour, most often black, dark red or blue.

Sourced from Pinterest: Left to right
zsazsabellagio
Linwood

Sourced from Pinterest: Left to right

zsazsabellagio

Linwood

VELVET

Velvet is a cut warp pile fabric, in which cut fibrous ends of the yarn form the surface of the fabric. Velvet can be made from a variety of fibres ranging from natural compositions such as silk or cotton, through to complex synthetic blends. The fibre is woven on a special loom, weaving two pieces of velvet at the same time. The two pieces are then sliced apart, and the lengths of fabric are wound on separate take-up rolls. Many effects are possible, for example the pile may be left erect or it may be laid in one direction to give it a lustre. 

Generally, velvet used for drapery application is manufactured with the pile facing up as aesthetically this will give you a deeper and more intense colour and functionally any pile disturbance will disappear quickly as the pile relaxes. Alternatively, when using velvet in an upholstery application, it is most common to use the pile in a downwards orientation to give the furniture a smooth and consistent appearance. Velvet should NOT be railroaded in upholstery applications – it should only be used conventionally.

As you can see above, the fabric choices are plentiful when it comes to choosing fabrics for your home interior project.  Having a deeper understanding of each of the constructions will ensure you achieve a great result whether it be a home décor DIY project, or you are selecting a fabric for a workroom to create your dream furniture piece.

These popular textile constructions also fit neatly into the five basic fabric styles, described here in our earlier article and if you missed part one of this two-part article catch up here.

When it comes to home interiors and soft furnishings there really is a vast range of curtain and upholstery fabrics to choose from, all with varying attributes for certain applications.  To ensure you start your project off with the right foundations, you need to be selecting a fabric that is most suited to its purpose.

There are various textile constructions/qualities that fall within five fabric “types” we describe in our earlier article here.

In this two-part article we will discuss the most commonly manufactured constructions that you see in the market today.