looking to re-upholster?
how to select fabric for upholstery
The importance of fabric durability varies depending on the piece of furniture, which room it is used in and personal aspects of the family, such as if children and pets live in the house.
Your fabric selection should reflect those issues.
- Woven patterns hold up longer than printed ones, as do higher thread counts and tight weaves. Weight & GSM refers to the number of threads per square inch of fabric, and denser fabric lasts longer.
- Fabric durability is important if your sofa or chair will get daily use.
Your fabric choice should be harmonious with the style and character of the piece it is covering. Choose a fabric that echoes your own style and the mood of the decor in that room.
The colour of the fabric is very often the first choice you make when buying furniture, and it has a significant impact on your decor, especially if the furniture piece is a large sofa that will dominate the room.
Make sure your colour choice is one you can live with happily for a long time. For instance, it might be best to avoid a very bold colour for a smaller room, especially if your sofa is also large. Neutrals are generally the safest route since they tend to satisfy over time.
There are some other factors that you should consider before you make a selection. These have to do with the environment in which you'll be placing your couch. Does your room get a lot of sun or is there any dampness? Are there pets who share the furniture with you? Does anyone suffer from allergies?
- Fade resistance: This factor is important if it will be placed in a room that gets plenty of sunlight or close to a window.
- Mildew resistance: Look for fabric that is mildew-resistant if you live in a humid climate.
- Allergies: Fabrics like hemp are perfect for allergy sufferers and those with sensitive skin.
- Pets: If you have pets avoid using delicate fabric such as silk or any fabric with lots of texture. Select pet-friendly upholstery instead (which hemp happens to be!)
how to measure for upholstery
Things You Will Need
- Tailor’s tape measure
- Metal tape measure
A ratty old couch with a solid frame might be a treasure in disguise. Some of the finest examples of sofas aren’t new, and with an upholstery facelift they can fit into your decor beautifully. Before tackling a DIY upholstery job or sending it to an upholsterer, you should know how much fabric to buy. Professional upholsterers don’t need to measure each section of a couch to determine how much fabric is needed; luckily, neither do you. Standard charts used industry-wide are the basis for fabric estimates after determining the style and basic size of the couch.
- Draw a retractible, metal tape measure across the back of the couch at its longest point from end to end, including the arms of the couch. This gives you the total length of the couch.
- Measure from the bottom of the upholstered area on the back of the couch to the top. If the couch has a curved back, measure at it’s highest point. Measure again from the floor to the top of the couch at its highest point. This gives you the height of the upholstered area as well as the total height of the couch.
- Remove the back cushions, if any exist, and measure across the front side of the back of the couch, which is the area where your back rests while sitting. Because you have already determined the total length of the couch, this measurement should be between the arms or wings of the couch. Yardage for separate back cushions is accounted for in the standard upholstery yardage chart.
- Remove seat cushions, if any exist, and measure across the seat of the couch from left to right. Measure the seat again from back to front. This gives you the length and depth of the seat. As with back cushions, separate seat cushion yardage is accounted for in the upholstery yardage chart.
- Measure from the floor in front of the couch to the top of the seat. Measure the front of the couch again, this time from the bottom of the upholstered area to the top of the seat.
- Move the yardstick to one end of the couch and measure from the floor to the top of the arm.
- If you are planning a DIY upholstery project, every piece of old upholstery on the couch is a built-in pattern for cutting and fastening the new upholstery. Pull off the old fabric pieces carefully with pliers. Most pieces are stapled or tacked. Some are sewn, and you’ll need a seam ripper or slender scissors. Mark each piece as you take it off the couch to remind you where the new piece will go.
- Underestimating for upholstery fabric become a big problem later. It's better to order more and make the excess into matching cushions or lampshades, than have missing areas!