Fabric Tips #12: Rolling a velvet

Alpaca-wool.
Image via Wikipedia

You’ve just ordered a new velvet and unrolled it to admire your purchase. But how do you re-roll it?

When you roll almost any fabric you should have the face on the inside. With a velvet this is the pile so you have the pile on the inside.

Some, but not all, velvet piles stand straight up others will ‘lay down’. for the former it does not matter which way you then roll the fabric (provided the pile is on the inside). However for typically longer pile which lays down (ie you can brush it flat with your hand in one direction only) then you should roll the fabric down the pile as you return it to its roll.

Hopefully that made sense. Good luck.

Fabric Tips #11: Mohair Velvet – How To Store

Alpaca-wool can be made into luxurious alpaca velvet
Image via Wikipedia - Alpaca Wool can be made into luxurious alpaca velvet...if you can find it

How to store Velvet.

The same instructions apply to all velvets.

Some background first: As an interior designer you buy and handle many fabrics. You may have wondered why some fabrics come in rolls of up to 100m whereas other come in much smaller lengths. Is this because of their value? The likelihood of them being sold quickly enough? Or perhaps longer lengths of some fabrics would be just to heavy for someone in a warehouse to physically carry or indeed too heavy for a courier to carry? Or perhaps it’s something to do with the thickness of the roll?

Well there is some truth no doubt in all of these reasons and others to. But one very important consideration with a velvet and especially with a Mohair velvets is the weight of the fabric and the weight of the fabric ON ITSELF. Because velvets have a pile they are thicker and heavier than other fabrics as they contain more material; similarly some velvets such as many mohair velvets have a dense pile…again more fabric and more weight.

There comes a point when the sheer weight of the roll of fabric becomes too much for the pile of the first part of the wrapped fabric on the roll and the inherent weight of all the fabric can cause damage to the pile. So velvets and especially mohair velvets have smaller lengths on the roll. Sometimes 25m but sometimes also 40m and 50m per roll.

So the length of fabric on a roll will be impacted by the weight of the fabric per linear metre AND the fact that a pile fabric can be more affected by added weight than other fabric.

So, how to store.

1. Store horizontally

2. Store with no other, external weight applied to the fabric.

3. Covered up to avoid exposure to dirt and dust i the air  -especially if stored for long periods

Typically you will find that many of our velvets come to you in special containers where the velvet is on a roll and suspended by special cardboard ends in the boxes. For small volumes of velvet on a single roll there is often no need for these special containers. Where the velvets are supplied in suspended roll containers it is safe to store the velvet in this form. Ideally youwould have a horizontal racking system for rolls of fabric as lengths can easily be cut off as and when you need them but cleary most interior designers do not have this facility.

The safest method of course is to let your supplier hold the stock and order cut lengths from them. It de-risks you damaging the fabric. Unless of course the supplier can specifically reserve entire rolls just for you, you would have the potential problem of dye lot or batch variation of colour with many fabric dyes. There would normally be a charge for an additional service such as this.

Contract Upholstery Fabric – How to Specify It

Here is a VERY quick guide to specifying contract fabrics. Contract Fabrics 101 if you like. It shows you the main areas you need to consider.

1. Determine Use

Is it panelling or seating? for the latter you will need to consider flammability (cigarette, match and crib 5) and abrasion (Martindale)

2. Fabric Composition

The composition of the fabric including the yarn and weave will affect the fabric’s long term wear, appearance and technical performance.

Natural fabrics such as wool can be more expensive but generally offer good feel and technical characteristics such as natural flame retardancy.

Man-made fabrics usually are more easily cared for but can look cheap if not properly chosen.

3. Flammability

The single standard for contract seating which is acceptable throughout the EU is EN 1021 Parts 1 and 2 (cigarette and match). Higher level standards in the UK are BS 5852 and BS 7176.

The standard which applies to vertical surface fabrics is BS 476 Part 7.

4. Abrasion

You should be looking at the Martindale properties of the fabric. <Here> is more information on the Martindale rub test.

5. Environmental Considerations

Generally natural fibres like wool are good. And man-made ones less so, NYLON is not great.

6. Care and maintenance

Generally contract fabrics will look bad because of dirt rather than because they wear out. So follow the manufacturers instructions on care and maintenance.  Basically wipe away stains quickly and vacuum clean regularly.

Decorex International 2010

Decorex is here again. This time it’s the 2010 version.

Beautiful logo isn’t it?

For those of you interested in fabric there are many fabric companies here. Not KOTHEA of course! but more of that another time.

Decorex is probably the magazine equivalent of House & Gardens. It competes with 100% Design and Focus (Chelsea Harbour Design Week). 100% Design is probably the  equivalent of Elle Decoration.

Personally I’d go just because of the logo.

If you are keen to get new contacts in the world of fabric then there are some interesting companies here. Quite a few new ones as well as some you will have heard of before.

As with all exhibitions of this sort it is a good place to go to get an idea of ‘consensus trends’. Try to figure out where all the manufacturers are heading. Of course they could all be heading in entirely the wrong direction for your particular target market so go having your own opinion as well. Go with that opinion in mind and see if what you find validates it.

Remember as well that the exhibition stands are there to grab your attention. To drag you to talk to a sales rep. Just because the stand looks good and the fabrics on display look good in the exhibition it does not mean they will work in your schemes of course! Although obviously striking designs do sometimes work for some people.

We were tempted to show off some of our new Cashmere Throws and Cashmere blankets but we weren’t quite ready with the full range yet. And we’d like to think that the best quality throws will generate interest through word-of-mouth throughout the industry in the year ahead! (Hmmm)

Cashmere Throws ( Throws )

Cashmere Throws are set to arrive in KOTHEA’s expanding fabric collection in September. As an aid for Interior Desingers we are creating a series of Designers’ Worksheets covering a variety of fabric related issues. They are all downloadable in pdf format.

The latest addition covers the esteemed Cashmere Throw.  A design staple. The Worksheet covers many of the aspects of throws in general and bed covers, etc. and it also highlights some specific issues relevent to our Cashmere Throws. Hopefully also some light can be shed on some of the confusion in the marketplace concerning the much inferior Cashmere Scarf…great for a scarf but many manufacturers and stockists of these more flimsy items seem to be selling them for decorating the house rather than the person – the latter of which they are far more suited.

Fabric Tips #10

Interior Designers are sometimes asked for the environmental credentials of their specification. Here are some figures that give you an idea of the greenness of different yarns used in fabric production. The figures show the energy consumption (per kilo in KWH) required to make the fibres. Of course this is far from the total carbon footprint of the finished delivered and fully made up cushion or sofa or curtain. But it is a starting point often covering the more energy intensive part of the process.

17 Wool
27 Viscose
32 Polypropylene
35 Polyester
69 Nylon

Clearly natural wool wins hands down!

As a side note, the “Campaign For Wool” should start to get media coverage throughout the rest of 2010 with the patronage of HRH Prince Charles. The society of British Interior Design are planning to give wool a big push “All we are saying is…give fleece a chance”. Their tagline. Great! Well it made me laugh!

Mohair Velvet, Silk Velvet: How to upholster using it

Silk Velvet Upholstery Fabric TextileMohair Velvet and Silk Velvet buyers consider this: You have just invested a considerable amount of money in a high quality silk velvet or mohair velvet. Are you really considering upholstering with it yourself. Use an experienced upholsterer who, to be brutally honest, should not need the instructions that follow.

Some velvets are woven with a nap others are not. It is not a problem either way. If there is a nap you need to know which way it goes as that affects the process of upholstering. When you run your hand down the mohair velvet or silk velvet the smoothed direction indicates the direction of the nap. Remember this, it is important.

I’m assuming that you have already checked that the fabric is not damaged and that each piece is from the same dye lot.

The nap should be upholstered downwards for:

– the back;

– the seat; and

– side surfaces.

The nap should be upholstered from the outside inwards for:

– arm rests.

How do you flip your cushions? Top to bottom or left to right?

Most people flip from top to bottom. It is therefore standard upholstering practice to upholster the front and the back the opposite way. IE when they are flipped over the nap is the same.

You should use a layer of wadding between the foam and the fabric. The wadding can be either cotton or synthetic it does not really matter but check with any fire rating requirements. Again check that you are using the right kind of foam but HR foam or cold foam are both fine.

However if the pile is vertical then we advise the additional use of a cotton slip-cover.

Going back to the foam for a minute we advise that you use white wadding. In certain circumstances it is possible that grey wadding will ‘bleed’ causing marks on your beautiful Mohair Velvet. For example this may be caused from moisture used in the cleaning process.

Always use wadding on the arm rests as a protective layer to help eliminate ‘sharp’ edges. Using wadding on arm rests will thus reduce wear and tear considerably.

For the piping never use synthetic piping cord, always use cotton piping cord. As with the arm rests this will reduce wear and tear by eliminating the ‘sharper edges’.

Again to reduce wear and tear also use the length of the fabric to make the piping. this will look better as well.

Happy Upholstering

Fabric Tips #9

When using sheers think about double width fabric. Many sheer fabrics are available in double width. This reduces the number of joins you need to make and also may well allow you to run the fabric the ‘other way’ (ie railroaded)

Fabric Tips #7

When choosing a fabric for upholstery think about the finished sofa.

If you are planning to have piping (made by rolling the fabric) then make sure that your chosen fabric can be used in that way. It is sometimes hard to roll thicker fabric.

Also bear in mind that your upholsterer might be overly cautious. So, for example, people are often told that some Mohair Velvets cannot be used for piping when they usually can.