Fabric Guide

Choosing the right furnishing fabric for your project can seem a bit daunting at first but this guide will help you choose with confidence.

Fabric type

Our furnishing fabrics will be marked as either Upholstery Fabric or Curtain Fabric.

Curtain fabric

Curtain means that the fabric has never been through a rub test or has been through a rub test and failed it. These fabrics are suitable for curtains.

You can generally use curtain fabrics for cushions and occasional chairs but they will not last as long as a fabric that is designated upholstery.

Upholstery fabric

Upholstery means that the fabric has passed a rub test to qualify them for upholstery use. Generally this means that a machine literally rubs the fabric 20,000 times before wear occurs.

You can generally use upholstery fabrics for curtains also, the only time this would not be the case would be when the fabric is too heavy to fall or pleat correctly. In our current range all upholstery fabrics can be used for curtains.

Selecting the style

Fabric composition

Cotton / Linen

  • Cotton is a natural fibre, quite matt in appearance which will hang very well in a curtain and lend itself very well to cushions and occasional furniture as it can usually be washed.

  • Cotton is very easy to work with and is a good choice for beginners projects.

  • Cotton curtains can be washed but subject to shrinkage, it is therefore better to have them dry cleaned. Allow yourself 5% shrinkage and always pre-wash your fabric if you’re planning to wash it in future.

Fabric composition


  • Silk is a natural fibre and a beautifully luxurious fabric with a dull sheen but it requires some care.

  • When using silk for curtains use a good lining to protect against sun damage as it will fade easier than other fabrics. Generally they will be interlined with an extra thick lining for body.

  • Silk Fabric is probably not the best choice for cushions due to its delicate nature but can be used on occasion while cool hand washing.

  • Silk generally won’t shrink.

Fabric composition


  • Viscose is derived from plant sources like wood pulp and then transformed to fibres. It has a beautiful drape and silk like lustre but can be cheaper than silk.

  • It’s breathable like cotton so ideal for cushions and as long as it is graded Upholstery, it will be perfect for upholstery too.

  • Viscose can shrink slightly and can sometimes be a bit bouncy to work with but if made up correctly it is a beautiful fabric.

Fabric composition


  • It’s a synthetic fabric, essentially a plastic, making it extremely versatile. It generally has a sheen to it.

  • It is frequently washable and doesn’t shrink, making it a good choice for either cushions, curtains or upholstery.

  • It is less breathable than most of the other fabrics so you may find that a polyester upholstered couch or polyester cushions may retain heat more than the other fabrics.

  • If made into curtains, it will last for years as it won’t shrink or fade like some of the natural fibres.

Mixed fabrics

Most fabrics you see will be some sort of mix of the above fabrics giving them slightly different attributes.

For example, Polyester is frequently mixed with cotton to give it the firmer handle of a cotton and dull the polyester sheen with the longer life span and lack of shrinkage of a polyester. Viscose is frequently mixed in with other fibres to add lustre and drape.

If you want further help with choosing the right fabric for your project, you can ask our experts in store who will be happy to advise you.

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