How to Pick Fabric

This post is part of a larger conversation about color, which I'll be talking about more on the blog because I know picking colors can be overwhelming. 

I am usually a pretty decisive person. People who like to shop hate shopping with me because I want to be in and out and done. My couch is ten years old and it is still in really good shape, but it needs new upholstery. The fabric withstood the test of time, but I don't recommend dropping chocolate or spilling wine on your couch (apparently I was having a bacchanalian party). Therefore I needed to find new fabric. 

I knew that I wanted to keep the couch relatively neutral because it is easier to change up accessories then to change a couch and I really did like the existing grey color palette. I thought I wanted velvet, but I also wanted to test the notion of pattern.  

I went on a search for fabric. I checked out West Elm, Fabric.com, House Fabric.com, I searched Etsy for fabric, and I googled organic upholstery fabric. I was really trying to find something that was made out of organic textiles because the fabric industry is so wasteful and harmful to the environment. FYI somebody needs to make a portal for people to buy organic fabric. It's not easy to find and it is not easy to purchase. 

When I received all of my samples I laid them all out on the back of the couch. 

The green and pumpkin fabric went, along with the lighter greys and a cream with grey print. I really liked the dark grey with the geometric print, but I wasn't sure about it all over the couch. I had the same issue with the grey and star/cross pattern, which was organic. Plus that fabric, while upholstery weight, was not heavy enough for the wear that a couch receives. 

Moving on then I am left with the velvet's. I liked the color of the swatch on the right and it was organic, but I wasn't sure about the quality. 

I then tested the options against the rug and the top left was a little too gunmetal grey. The other two work really well. The West Elm fabric could work well, but the top right sample is Gibson fabric. While a couple of dollars more, I had already upholstered a chair in the fabric and I know that it looks great and wears well. 

At one point I had a fabric sample that was velvet, but the exact same color of my current couch, which is cement. I texted a friend and said I was thinking of playing it safe, but I wanted to go darker and she said change it up. 

To recap:

  • Get a lot of samples
  • Try to go outside of your comfort zone, but recognize that it may not work.
  • Make sure you have the right fabric for the job. For furniture it needs to be heavy weight upholstery. For pillows you use medium. Sometimes you can use light weight, but you will need to line the fabric for stability. Curtains can pretty much use any weight depending on the look you want.
  • Sit with the fabric for a couple of days.
  • Slowly take samples away. This took me almost a week.
  • Check the color against existing pieces or textiles in the room.
  • Bring in a second opinion.

So, now that I have picked a sample I need to order the fabric and reupholster the couch. I am going to make a snug fitting slipcover because I'm not sure I am up to reupholstering the couch. That will be an adventure for another day. 


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