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How to know which fabric to use

When it comes to using fabric for home decor and decorating projects, it helps to know the different types of fabric and what they are best used for


Brocade is a rather fancy heavy fabric with raised patterns, often floral, that mimic embroidery. It must be tightly woven for upholstery applications and even then is not suitable for constant use because of its tendency to abrade and snag.

Chenille features lofty clipped yarns that give this casual fabric a plush, inviting texture. Most commonly crafted of cotton or cotton blends, chenille can feature simple patterns woven of the fabric pile. Chenille upholstery is sturdy, but it will stretch and sag if not backed.

Chintz is a glossy cotton fabric, solid or patterned, that originated in India. The British were mad for chintz, and it's closely associated with their exuberant floral patterns. Chintz is highly suitable for upholstery and slipcovers because of its sturdy resin finish.

Cotton can be woven into rustic homespun, tough denim, or silky chintz. Absorbent cotton accepts brilliant dye and resists sun damage. Comfortable, durable, cleanable, and economical, cotton is a great upholstery choice for furniture used daily.

Damask is a classic upholstery choice that features large traditional motifs in matte weaves against lustrous grounds. Because patterns are woven, damasks are reversible. Originally of silk, today's more durable damasks are often crafted of rayon, cotton, or blends.

Gingham is a cotton or cotton-blend plain-woven fabric with a checkerboard pattern, most commonly in blue, red, or yellow on a light ground. Casual gingham looks at home in country-style rooms and mixes well with floral prints.

Linen is elegant but not pretentious. The oldest known fabric, it is made from flax. Although linen bath-dyes beautifully, the dense fibers print unevenly, so patterns are often artfully distressed. It is durable but weakens in the sun. Synthetic blends lessen wrinkling.

Microsuede is a synthetic nonwoven fabric formed from miniscule fibers. While it mimics supple suede, microsuede is highly colorfast and resistant to stains and odors. Durable and affordable microsuede is a family-friendly upholstery choice.

Toile features vignettes of rural life, pastoral scenes, or historical events, usually printed in one or two colours on plain-woven cotton, or sometimes silk or linen. Toile's popularity has surged due to its relaxed yet sophisticated romantic appeal.


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