Friday, 28 July 2017

Best Fabric for Upholstery

Elle Decor Room
Elle Decor Magazine

You might be wondering ..... what is the best fabric for a sofa or chair?


Are you looking for fabric for upholstering a sofa or chair?  Usually, the first thing that most people do when thinking about choosing a fabric for upholstering furniture is what colour to choose.
But, think about other factors too.

Durability (Rub Test)


Something we are asked about quite a lot is what is a rub test and why does it matter?  This test is also sometimes known as a Martindale Test and will give a good idea how long you can expect the fabric to last.  Clearly, this will depend on where you place your furniture, how often you use it and whether there are children and pets.

If the fabric does not show a rub test then presume it won't last long.  So, check the rub test to see if it is appropriate for the project.



There are many engineered textiles now which look increasingly like natural fabrics, and can withstand wear and tear,  but many natural choices are nearly as durable. - it all depends on what you choose.



Here is one of our best selling lines and is 100% wool.  It is available in both domestic and contract grade.

arundel wool herringbone fabric in light grey
Arundel Wool Herringbone Light Grey

Contract Fabric


Contract textiles are also an option.  These are highly durable textiles specially produced for use in commercial buildings, although the selection is more limited.
Other durable natural textiles you can use include wool, velvet, linen, especially machine-washable Belgian linens.

Belgian Linen

Como Linen Fabric in Chameleon
Como Belgian Linen Chameleon

Belgian linen is very good for upholstery and loose covers, but choose one to to stand wear and tear.  Not all linen is the same, and there are some bad, cheap imports.

Belgian linen is only manufactured in Belgium. Our Belgian linen is manufactured by three mills in Belgium. We know the owners personally and have a very good relationship with them.

Other Fabrics


It’s harder to generalise about cotton, because the category is so broad. Some are durable, others aren’t. Fabrics to avoid include silk, rayon and rayon-polyester blends.

Nearly as important as composition is where the textiles are made.  We only sell textiles that have been manufactured in the UK or EU, and where we know the weaver well and get great service from them.

Woven patterns will usually last longer than printed ones, as do those with tighter weaves. However, just because a fabric looks chunky and durable, it might not be so check the rub test before you buy to ensure it is suitable.



Firstly, always follow care instructions.

How long can you expect the fabric to last? Well, even the most durable fabric will break down if you don’t maintain it.  Always vacuum furniture at least once a month, to get rid of dirt on the surface as combined with the friction of people moving back and forth, it will wear out the fabric faster than anything else.

If you want loose covers and be able to wash them, go for a washable fabric, but bear in mind that the fabric could shrink a little so check the shrinkage rate (if there is one) when buying the fabric and allow for this when making your choice.



Choose a fabric that complements both the piece of furniture and the interior decor of your room.   Merging different styles together can give a good result.  Experiment as this will add originality to the space.

Another point to bear in mine is whether the fabric can be railroaded.  Some fabrics can be railroaded, others can't, so check this too.

Don't be slave to fashion, but choose a fabric that echoes your own style and the mood of the decor in the room.

Consider the scale of the pattern. It should be appropriate to the size of the furniture it is covering as well as the room size. A large bold, pattern might work better in a larger room, while a more muted or smaller one might be a better choice for a smaller space.

Lindsay Modern Tartan
Lindsay Modern Wool Tartan

Tartan fabric is particularly relevant regarding this. Some tartans have huge repeats which will not be suitable on a small piece of furniture. Always check the repeat is going to work well for you.  Tartan is very hardwearing and is suitable for furniture.



As said before, colour is very often the first choice you make when upholstering furniture, and it has a significant impact on the decor, especially if the is a large sofa that will dominate the space.

Make sure the colour choice is one you can live with happily with. eg it might be best to avoid a very bold color for a smaller room, especially if the sofa is also large. If you are unsure, neutrals are generally easy to live with and the safest bet.

Avoid light coloured fabrics if you have children and/or pets.

Warm and cool colours affect the mood of the room and depending on whether the room is bright or on the darker side.

Avoid trendy colours, unless you really like them as they can date a room long before the sofa or chair needs recovering.

See Elle Decor Article about Decorating with Colour.

Fade Resistance


Does the room get a lot of sun?   If it does, then a dark fabric will fade quicker than a lighter one, so take this into consideration when choosing.

Friday, 24 February 2017


Patterdale Steel Grey

Patterdale Chilli

Patterdale Espresso

Patterdale Heather

Patterdale Latte

Patterdale Light Grey

Patterdale Paprika

Patterdale Sky Blue
Just out - our brand new range of Patterdale Contract Houndstooth Fabrics.   Inspired by the colours of the Lake District in the UK, it is woven from 80% wool and 20% nylon yarn it has a 50,000 rub test.

How to Design a Headboard

How to design a headboard

Article by Elle Decor

What is the optimum size for a headboard? ‘Bedding will make a bed appear broader, so allow up to 7.5 centimetres extra width at each side of the bed to make your headboard look more generous,’ says Bertie Clayton, director at interior design firm Jane Clayton & Company ( Avoid anything much wider, unless you want a retro look. Contemporary headboards can be as tall as you like and, if you have a high ceiling, a large headboard makes a great focal point in the room.
What are the best materials to upholster a headboard with? Leather is hardwearing and will last for years, while Alcantara faux suede is also durable and stain resistant, making it a good choice. ‘If you’re using fabric, look for something textural that’s not too lightweight; this will maximise the life of your headboard,’ says Clayton. ‘And don’t forget, all fabrics must meet fire regulations.’ The advice from Ian Lea, CEO at textile company Spruce London (, is to choose a tightly woven cloth. ‘This prevents the interlining showing through when it’s stretched over corners,’ he says. In terms of decoration, Laura Kelway-Bamber, creative director at The Headboard Workshop ( adds, ‘as a rule of thumb, if you have an exciting fabric, keep the shape of your headboard simple. If the fabric is plain, go for a more exotic shape, or add buttons, studs or contrast piping.’
How should it be mounted? Smaller designs can be attached directly to the bed, but larger headboards should be wall mounted. ‘This prevents movement,’ says Kelway-Bamber. The Headboard Workshop can provide suitable struts or a batten mounting system; alternatively you can pick up a pair of concealed fixing brackets for as little as £5.70 on Amazon ( Wall mounting is also space-efficient, as you can push the bed right up against the wall and allow the headboard to sit on top.
How do I protect a fabric headboard from marks and stains? Treat it with an upholstery protector spray such as Scotchgard ( or choose a model with a removable cover that can be machine washed.
How much would a bespoke headboard for a double bed cost? Expect to pay from around £200 for a simple design in a plain fabric.
Words: Claudia Baillie
Picture: Broste Copenhagen

Friday, 14 October 2016

British Tweed - The Story

Shooting Party with Edward Prince of Wales in 1895 wearing British Tweed

British tweed is famous all over the world but not many people know that it has nothing to do with the River Tweed.  The name was as a result of a mere slip of a pen.

Read more

Saturday, 1 October 2016

100% Design 2016, London, England

Design Shows
100% Design Show 2016, London, England
Spruce took time out to visit the 100% Design Show in London last week.  Cutting edge ideas and innovations, impressive installations, and great furniture design.  It's a must for architects, interior designers, and high end property developers.    Read more