The right fabric has the potential to transform your once loved items, bringing them up-to-date to match your tastes and preferences. When choosing fabric for upholstery, it’s important to consider its use. One of the main questions to ask yourself is: What will the piece be used for?
Look beyond the design of the pattern and consider the fabric’s composition. Always look for a higher quality material because it will be more durable and ensure longevity, whereas a lesser quality fabric is prone to damage and will require frequent repair and upkeep.
The durability of a fabric is defined by a term known as the ‘rub count’, determined by a ‘rub test’ where a machine runs back and fourth over the fabric until it wears out. It is generally recommended that a fabric with a rub count of 20,000+ is suitable for domestic upholstery and 30,000+ for commercial use upholstery. For commercial furniture, the higher the rub count, the better.
A number of my fabrics are suitable for upholstery. My printed velvet fabrics have a rub count of 45,000. It’s recommended to use these fabrics with a schedule three inteliner. My plain velvet and plain linen cotton fabrics are also suitable for upholstery.
The above chair, in collaboration with Sofas & Stuff, makes use of my Island Botanist velvet alongside my pine plain velvet—an example of how plain and printed velvets can be used to complement each other in one item of furniture.
My printed linen fabrics have a lower rub count, which is why I recommend velvet over linen for most furniture upholstery projects. If the item will be subjected to lower-grade wear-and-wear, then linen could be used. This should always be assessed on a case-by-case basis and I remain on-hand to answer any questions you have about specific uses.
See below a selection of my favourite upholstery projects to-date. I’m grateful to have worked in partnership with a number of businesses to create some unique and exclusive upholstered items using my fabrics.
My Grey Tailor Thistle fabric was chosen to upholster the furniture throughout the The Edinburgh City Chambers wedding venue. This included the furniture in the separate wedding suite, the exquisite chairs in the main ceremony room and the armchairs and grand pouffe in the reception. This design was perfectly suited to the neutral and warm tones of the venue. It’s more subdued than my other prints.
I collaborated with Sarah Beech who designs beautiful ottomans to create this bespoke piece using my Summer Thistle Velvet. Not only are they perfect for creating extra storage, ottomans are a great way to bring a touch of colour to your home.
Last year I had the exciting opportunity to collaborate with Glasgow-based Robinsons Beds, who create custom made-to-order headboards. I chose my Summer Thistle velvet for the design and I was so happy with the final result. It is the perfect example of how upholstery can deliver great impact, creating a bold feature in your bedroom.
Kay Hourston is an upholsterer from Aberdeenshire (The Little Byre, Midmar) who has utilised a number of my velvet fabrics to upholster antique furniture. I love when old furniture is given a contemporary twist. Her designs are on sale at The Milton Art Gallery.
Caring for your upholstery
To get the most out of your upholstered furniture, you must care for them properly to extend their lifespan and keep them in good condition. Depending on the piece, it may need to be brushed or vacuumed at least once a week to help to keep the fabric clean. Avoid placing any upholstered item in direct sunlight as this can result in the fading of colours or patterns and the fraying of the fabric.
If you’re interested in using my fabric for one of your projects, residential or commercial, then please do not hesitate to get in touch. I would be delighted to chat through fabric suitability and various design choices.