A complete guide to different cushion fabrics and their suitability around the home
There are a huge range of different types of fabrics available these days and many of them are commonly used in the manufacture of cushion covers. It is useful to know a little about these fabrics before choosing your cushions as the wrong choice of cushion cover can be both costly and annoying.
There are cushions to fit almost anywhere in your home, your sofa, chair, bed or window seat. However, the cushion you choose must not only fit the space, it must also fit the need. Certain cushion coverings are not suitable for some areas of the home.
Cushions usage around the home
Cushions are used all around the home and also outside on the patio or garden, therefore the fabric you choose should reflect this. For example, cushions used in a bedroom will not need to be as hard wearing as those used in your main lounge or on your garden bench. A cushion that is placed on an unused chair will not need to be as durable as one on the main family sofa.
Cotton and linen are widely used in cushion manufacture and both are hard wearing and washable. They are natural fibres and therefore are good choices for people with sensitive skins. They are also cool to the touch and therefore are a good choice for summer time use. Linen can sometimes crease quite considerably, so perhaps might not be a good choice for a sofa or chair that gets a lot of use. Both cotton and linen are a good choice for outdoor use as long as they are not exposed to the elements, but beware of sun bleaching and colour fading if used extensively out side or in windows which have a lot of direct sunlight.
Canvas - when looking at a good fabric to use on outdoor furniture the perfect choice is canvas, which is an extremely strong cotton fabric. It is extremely hard wearing and resistant to the weather. It can also be easily waterproofed and comes in a stunning array of colour ways. PVC fabrics are resistant to inclement weather and are therefore an excellent choice for outdoor use.
Silk or wool - for bedrooms or perhaps hallways where your cushions will probably be more decorative than functional, a fabric such as silk or wool is a good choice. Silk is considered to be one of the most luxurious fabrics available and although it can be expensive with the right care it will last a lifetime. Wool is the hair from an animal such a sheep or goat spun into yarn. The alpaca gives a yarn that is very soft and strong but can be costly. Both genuine silk and wool are versatile and tactile, but they will require specialist cleaning, making them less than ideal for use in areas where children or pets might normally be.
Leather is often overlooked as a cushion cover fabric, but as it is extremely hard wearing it is often a good choice for areas that get a lot of wear. Also leather is one of the fabrics that often becomes more user friendly with age as the patina and texture matures. Again leather can be difficult to clean and so there are certain areas where it would not be the best choice. It is possible to get cushion covers made from vinyl, which is a synthetic fabric made to imitate leather but it does not have the ageing qualities or the durability and will need specialist cleaning.
Polyester and nylon - for general use around the home there are several types of synthetic materials. Things like polyester and nylon are widely used in the manufacture of cushion covers. Most synthetic materials are a combination of various fibres and can imitate anything from silk to wool. Synthetic materials are generally hard wearing, washable and durable which makes them a superb choice for areas of the home that have high use like the kitchen, lounge or dining room.
Bear in mind that a synthetic material can be anything from basic polyester/cotton to corduroy and for that reason the durability and colour fastness of the fabric must be checked on the manufacturers’ instructions, as some man-made fabrics will be much more hard wearing than others.
Think about the cushion's use in your home. Opt for durability and versatility when the cushion is to be used in family areas and keep finer fabric covers and highly embellished cushions for areas where their beauty can shine without being ruined too quickly.