A Primer on Fabrics for Your Home

Member post from Bea Crites, Decorating Den Interiors

Fabrics can be beautiful, friendly and fun.  They can set the mood, enhance a theme, establish a trend, soften sound, control light, provide privacy and calm our busy lives.  Nothing in your home will generate warmth and appeal more than the type of fabrics used.  This review of available fabrics will assist you in this sometimes-confusing selection process.

The Natural Fabrics

Cotton…..

is thought to be the most soothing and safe and its use for infant clothing or beddings is a live testimony of its softness and skin-friendliness. Cotton is considered an all-season fabric because it has the distinctive feature that it adjusts easily with climatic requirements.  In summer, cotton fabric keeps the body cool and absorbs perspiration whereas feels warm in the winter.

Silk…..

is the strongest natural fabric in the world.  It is known for its softness, luster, beauty and luxurious look.  It is one of the higher grade fabrics and provides comfort to the wearer in all types of weather as it keeps the body cool in summer and warm in winter. While there may be no more beautiful designer fabric, there are certain precautions to be taken when using silk, primarily because of its sensitivity to direct sunlight.

Linen…..

is considered the king of natural fabric. Linen is extensively used for apparel making and home furnishing as well because it is strong and durable. Linen, being a natural fiber is considered to be safe for all types of skin. Linen fabric is also suggested for sensitive skin as its natural properties makes it resistant for allergies.

Wool…..

Soft, strong and very durable wool fabric provides warmth and is very attractive.  It is the fabric which keeps you dry while perspiring and cool when it is hot. Wicking away perspiration from the body, wool fabric does not wrinkle easily and is resistant to dirt, wear and tear.  Wool has been largely used in blankets, area rugs and wall to wall carpeting.

Leather…..

is comfortable in both hot and cold conditions.  Leather fabric is not affected by surrounding temperatures.  Leather adds a classic luxury to your décor while being pleasant to touch and is comfortable.  In addition to being soft, elastic and firm, leather is able to absorb water vapor while remaining supple and will revert to its original shape when stretched.

Ramie…..

is valued as a summer fabric because of its moisture absorption and air permeability characteristics.  It is not harmed by mild acid and is resistant to alkali.

Hemp…..

is highly versatile and is seen in a number of products like shoes, furniture, apparel, accessories and home furnishings.  It is commonly known for its warmth, softness and durability. Providing beautiful lustre, hemp fabric, in addition to being a great choice for comfortable work clothes, is also used in the manufacture of draperies, upholstery, bedspreads, table linens, sheets, dish towels, canvas, etc.

Jute.....

Is among the strongest and most durable of fabrics.  Although jute fabric is a much sought after item for fashionable clothes and accessories, its most important use is in the making of carpets, linoleum, cordage and twines. It is sometimes used as webbing to cover inner springs of the auto seats.

Synthetic Fibers

There are two types of synthetic fibers:

Cellulose Fibers.....

are made from combining cotton or wood pulp with chemicals. This process produces rayon and acetate.

  • Rayon….. is a final result of solidifying filaments. For upholstery, it handles abrasion poorly because it has a tendency to pill.
  • Acetate…..is a synthetic fabric composed of a derivative of cellulose. It has greater strength than rayon when wet and has a greater sensitivity to high temperatures.

 Chemical Fibers.....

 are pure synthetic since they are created entirely from chemicals and include:

  • Nylon…..is very strong and elastic, and can be formed into fibers, sheets, or bristles. It is used to make fabrics, plastics, and molded products.
  • Acrylic…..is a synthetic man-made fiber that has a soft, smooth feel which is very similar to wool, and is lightweight. It is often used to create plush velvets, and dyes beautifully.
  • Polyester…..is a strong and durable synthetic fabric. It is often used as a blend with other fabrics to lend wrinkle resistance. It is not the easiest fabric to remove stains from, and doesn't breathe as well as other fabrics may.

Summary

Natural and synthetic fibers are often blended to produce yet other fabrics.  No synthetic fabric will have the depth of colour as in a silk nor the ability to be woven into the complex patterns available in cottons.  Yet, mixing natural and synthetic fibers makes it possible for an endless variety of quality and opulent fabric.  This allows more people to have the pleasure of using quality, luxurious fabrics in their home.

I would be pleased to guide you on selecting the right fabrics for your home and lifestyle. Call me today for your complimentary in-home consultation.

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