Picking the Cover and Estimating the Yardage
There are many things that come into the picture when selecting the fabric:
#1 Do you want Cloth, Leather, or Vinyl? Things to consider– Wearability, Comfort, Cost , Width, Color coordination, Style, Cleanability
Wearability: In this world of ours, it seems that in order to gain something, you have to give something up. This is also true with cloth. If you want Wearability then you can’t have nice bright colors. The fabrics that take on colors and hold them are the ones which have open pores and accept the color more readily. Open pores (or open weaves) are more affected by rubbing or abrasion, causing these fabrics to wear out sooner. Choosing a heavier, thicker, denser fabric will increase the Wearability. Some of the fabrics that fall into the less wearable class are Polished Cottons, Acetate, Rayon. These fabrics you’ll find in draperies due to their ability to hold colors and resist sunlight.
The tougher fabric and the ones that don’t accept color as easily, but yet are more resistant to abrasion or wear, can be seen in the advertisements for carpeting. These are mostly man made fabrics but remember there are diversions from each of these. Some of these fabrics are Nylon, Polyester, and Olefin. Polyesterer thread is the main thread for sewing items that are going to be exposed to the outdoor elements, rain, sun & etc.
Comfort: This is basically the softness, warmth, sun heat, and breathability (will air go though it?). With vinyl & leather you may have to install air-a-tors to let the air in and out especially a seat cushion, or you’ll feel like you’re sitting on a inner tube.
Cost: I think you understand this without no further a explanation.
Width: Most of your Upholstery fabric is 54 inches wide and you will find some that go to 62 inches wide (mostly for Automobiles). Fabric for draperies is normally less than 54″ so be careful on the width. Buying your fabric is by the lineal or running yard, so for example 1 yd long and 54″ wide which is 1 1/2yd wide, you end up with a total of 1 & ½ square yards. When you go to my estimator yardage chart this is using the 54′ wide fabric. Remember, this chart is only a guide.
A good fabric store will roll your fabric for you instead of folding, so you don’t have to work with the folds. If your fabric store folds your purchased fabric, you can request that they roll it.
Before we leave the discussion of fabric width, a little word that can make the difference in your whole job is “Railroading”.
Railroading is: The direction of the pattern or the nap of the fabric: All fabric is either railroaded or not railroaded if it has a nap or a pattern. Plain vinyls and some fabrics can reverse
their direction when being put on a piece of furniture. Normally, printed or napped fabric on a chair will not have problems if the fabric is not railroaded, but a sofa is a different story. Railroading means that the pattern or nap on the fabric goes from side to side of the roll rather than up the roll. This allows you to put a back on a sofa that is longer than 54″(the width of the fabric) in one piece. The welts on a sofa are not always a design, they have to be put there because the fabric won’t reach, because is NOT railroaded.
Color Coordination is matching, blending the fabric you are selecting with the surrounding furniture, flooring, window treatment and wall cover in the area this piece of furniture is designed to be placed. The interior design part of the task.
Style speaks for itself.
Cleanability: All fabric should have a Cleanability code on the fabric, I have a cleaning code chart on my web page and you can also find it right here on Fabrics.Net.
Fabric Repeat: Repeats normally come in increments of 3 inches,
such as 3-6-9-12 & etc., with the largest repeat normally being 27″. Fabrics can have vertical and also horizontal repeats with the vertical & horizontal repeats dependant on whether it is Railroaded or not (which
determines up from down & etc). When the pattern is NOT Railroaded, the fabric is usually 55″ wide which allows 1/2″ for pattern to be matched without a loss of one drop meaning, the distance of one repeat. About the only place this will come into effect is on a sofa to complete the width of
the Front-Back and the Back-Back.
Now if the fabric is a stripe, it could be what I call a balanced or an unbalanced repeat. Having different width or different color stripes.
A Balanced Stripe is a stripe with the same type of stripe on each side, so it could be cut across the stripe and this would line up with the other end.
An Unbalance Stripe is a stripe that does not have the same stripe on each side. When cutting across the stripe the only way it will line up if it is put back at the point it was cut.
The pattern or stripe normally doesn’t make a big difference in the yardage needed unless it is a large repeat where centering comes into effect. The centering is required of the front back and the seat or cushion. A wild guess is to add one yard for every 6 yards required to do the job. Normally the inside and out side arm just let it fall as long as up on the fabric is up on the furniture.
In my next Article, my plans are to explain sewing double welt using an Upholsters Single welt foot and sewing in zippers without zipper foot, and making pockets on cushions. If you have any question, let me know and I’ll do the best I can to answer them.