Dye fabric to match

fabric colors

As a designer consider that there would be minimum quantities imposed by the manufacturer to cover special setup and organisational costs. Such fabric would not be wanted by anyone else and so you would have to buy the fabric by the roll – anything from 20m to 200m. So, although possible, we generally advise against it.

There are also more detailed reasons. From a manufacturing point of view it is very hard to guarantee a match to the colour you have – some dyes are better than others, so fabrics TAKE dyes better than others. Sometimes you know the exact original colour and other times not. Sometimes the fabric you are trying to match to might have a pile – so even if you workout a textile pantone colour, what exactly are you measuring? The fabric will look differently coloured from different angles.

The fabric you have may well have faded since purchase and there will be colour tolerances in what a manufacturer can produce from new. You would also have to consider that new and old would wear and fade differently  – so there are many sources of ‘error’ or colour variation. Therefore our experience (from other manufacturers it’s the same) is that an exact match is rarely achieved and then the client/manufacturer relationship could be spoilt and a lot of time wasted by both parties.

Interior Design – Theory & Process (Sully)

Interior Design : Theory & Process : Anthony SullyThis book approaches Interior Design from an academic perspective rather than ‘here’s a picture to inspire you.”

Many aspiring Designers will soon realise from this book that Interior Design is more than just ‘creativity’. It is a mix of people, process, technology and, yes, creativity too.

Here is a full review

Anthony Sully teaches and practices interior design.

mixing patterns

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2WFoWQy-unk] Mixing Patterns – A video from an interior designer. You other interior designers should start making videos like this…great way to get new clients (sometimes)

Contract Curtains – BS 5867: part2: 1980: Type B

New black curtains shading for the sun.
New black curtains shading for the sun. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the specifications for the flame retardancy for contract curtains in the UK is Contract Curtains – BS 5867: part2: 1980: Type B.

Q: Is this the right one for you to use?
A: Maybe.

It is normally the responsibility of the interior desinger to determine what specification is required and to agree that with the local fire officer. Sometimes there might not be an interior designer. In that situation it is the responsibility of someone like, for example, the hotel owner. It is NOT THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THE FABRIC COMPANY nor is it the responsibility of the CURTAIN MAKER.

You should also tread carefully. If from your research you decide that the correct specification is BS 5867: part2: 1980: Type B then you are still not all the way there. If you plan to use other materials with your curtain or hang them in a novel way or with some sort of coating then all those ‘extra bits’ are relevant. The fire officer needs to be consulted to see if your method of making and hanging the curtains is OK.

Also note that if you are having your fabric treated by someone like Essex Flameproofing or TEK or Textiles FR then once they have treated the fabric they may well perform an indicative test. However if you are then going on to do unusual things to the fabric whilst making and hanging the curtains then you may have to have the curtain material tested by a testing house – such as TFT Ilkley. IE they test the retardancy and compliance of the made up curtain and not just the raw fabric in laboratory conditions.

If you are unsure of these opinions then please consult your local fire officer for correct guidance.

Silk Velvet – What makes a great upholstery velvet

Decorex Logo
Silk Velvet Upholstery with Fine Italian Silk

Silk Velvet really is one of the great upholstery velvets. It looks great, it feels great and it can be up to the job if your upholstery velvet is chosen wisely.

If your last and only experience of a velvet was sitting on one in the cinema then you really haven’t lived!

Firstly let’s look at silk velvet’s suitability for upholstery. It can have a Martindale Rub Test result of over 20,000 – so it CAN be readily suitable for many upholstery uses.

Composition. Just because it is sold as 100% silk can be misleading and not necessarily relevant. Is this 90% silk velvet better than that 100% silk velvet? You just can’t answer that by simply looking at the composition.

A silk velvet that is sold as being 100% silk may in fact be a 100% silk velvet pile and 100% cotton backcloth. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. If it is the look and feel of the silk that you are looking for then maybe it’s best to just consider the pile (assuming the backcloth is up to the job of course). One of our fine silk velvets has a 100% pile and then a backcloth of silk and cotton – with the cotton being added for strength and the overall silk content being 90%. Compare this to our Italian Silk & Cashmere Velvet which has a 70% silk + 30% cashmere pile.

Next look at the silkiness or the shininess. If you are looking for a silk velvet you will usually want a shine.

Consider too the length of the pile. Again, there is nothing inherently good or bad about a long or short pile. A shorter pile may be more rigid and upright and that could be a characteristic that you are looking for. Alternatively a longer pile will probably lay better in one directions – and you may well want that characteristic.

The weight of the fabric in grams per metre is often used as a measure of quality. That is not always true and could, for example, easily be distorted by a heavy and poor quality backcloth.

My personal preference would be to get my hand on a sample; feel it and look at it. What I look for and prefer is a slightly more rigid and consistent pile with a very dense weave. I would look carefully at the country of manufacture. I prefer an Italian velvet (mainly because it sounds better!) but if not Italian then I would certainly only consider a velvet produced in mainland western Europe. But don’t copy me, have the confidence to choose what you like – you are going to have to live with it. I would now choose my upholsterer carefully; many years ago a velvet covered chair came back for me from a local upholsterer and the pile was not running in a consistent direction…it didn’t look great (read ‘awful’). So don’t, like me, assume that all upholsters know what they are doing with velvets, they patently don’t all know. I would then read our guide to upholstering with velvet – a designer’s worksheet and armed with a bit of knowledge quiz your upholsterer carefully.

Faux Leather Martindale Test – What does it look like

Ever wondered what a Martindale rub test looks like?


We’ve already shown a video of this <here> however of some additional interest might be the following faux leather samples that recently came back to us from the Martindale testing laboratory.

Faux Leather After Martindale Rub Test
Faux Leather After Martindale Rub Test


So the link (above) shows you the machine in action and the image above shows you the circular cuttings taken of the fabric that have been rubbed, in this case, 200,000 times. As you can see this excellent performance faux leather of ours lasted WELL above the industry ‘norm’ of 100,000.


Leatherettes & Fine Faux Leather – More Collections

Leather (Photo credit: orebokech)

Faux Leathers are otherwise knows as leatherette, fake leather and artificial leather. We have a short article on their many benefits for interior designer <here>.

KOTHEA® are the UK’s leading producer of fine, performance faux leathers for the contract market.

We have some of the very highest performance faux leather fabrics with Martindale Rub Test results in excess of 200,000…some of the highest in Europe. You can specify this quality of product knowing that you can totally trust its abrasion resistance characteristics.

We have a broad range of collections covering the varied environmental needs of hospitality (spas, restaurants, hotels), marine (yachts), office and household (apartment, villa) usage. Our technical innovation gives the best fabrics and our designers the best patterns and extensive colour palettes.

Related articles

What is faux leather? When should an interior designer use it?

English: Leather tanning, Fes, Morocco Françai...
English: Leather tanning, Fes, Morocco Français : Tannage du cuir, Fès, Maroc (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Faux leather looks like leather. It is a fabric made out of materials other than leather. Faux is the French for ‘fake’. So it is fake leather. It is cheaper than natural leather and much easier to work with in many cases. As well as a fabric for interiors it is used in many industries: it could be in your car or could make the case covering your iPAD. In the interior design world you would use it for: upholstery and wall-covering but also to cover, doors, table-tops, bar stools, bars, etc.

Types of Faux Leather

There are two main chemical types of faux leather:  polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyurethane (PU). Both types are used in making clothing, upholstery, and product covers; typically KOTHEA use PVC For our faux leathers. We are able to obtain fine faux leathers with amazing properties as a fabric including extremely high Martindale Rub test scores in excess of 200,000 and extremely accurate animal hide pattern copies.

Compared to Real Leather

Sometimes you can’t tell the difference unless you know what to look for. Most obviously natural leather will not have any kind of repeatable pattern. Faux leather will have a degree of ‘repeat’ but might be sufficiently subtle that you do not notice it. Natural leather has visible and irregular pores and rough edges.

Natural leather tends to have a smoother feel whereas some faux leather may well feel like plastic BUT other faux leathers will feel very similar to the natural leather. The ‘smell’ may be chemically but this could be either the chemicals that have been used to treat the natural leather or the chemicals in the faux leather. A VERY chemically smell that sticks to your hand is probably a faux leather – although most faux leathers will not have this property.

Pros and Cons

Faux leather can generally be made to have very good consistency of colour across batches and in theory can be made to any required colour (in sufficient quantity). Similarly texture and pattern can be varied and/or reproduced much more easily than with a natural product.

Care and maintenance of faux leather is greatly superior to natural leather which requires conditioning. Faux leather can be bought by the metre whereas natural leather must necessarily be bought by ‘the hide’ and hence has join, length and width constraints not necessarily found in the faux alternative. Faux leather generally has superior light fastness and durability.

The animal lover will appreciate that faux leather does not require animals to die. But then again many animals die each year to support the meat industry and leather is an abundant by-product that, if used, you might argue avoids waste. KOTHEA do not sell natural leather.

When should I specify FAUX LEATHER for interior design?

There is certainly a kudos surrounding natural leather. It IS viewed a s a more desirable product. However I’m really not sure why; especially when you look at it logically.

Faux leather is much easier to work with; it is much better suited for any kind of long term interior design use – looking at durability and care & maintenance; it can look and feel the same as natural leather. It is made of chemicals but chemicals (often environmentally damaging ones) are used in the natural leather treatment process.

Whilst I might buy natural leather shoes I would only specify faux leather in a contract interior design situation and would probably also specify faux leather in my house with the possible exception of a statement sofa.

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A-Z Interior Fabric Qualities

2A-Z Glossary or Guide of fabric qualities


American Cotton
Cotton of medium fineness and medium staple length.

Alpaca Angora
Natural hair from the alpaca, or animal from which the fibre alpaca is obtained.
Hair fibre from the angora rabbit.

Fine, soft,plain weave fabric. Originally linen, now other fibres, eg cotton.
Combination of two or more different fibres within the same yarn. This can be for cost, properties and/or appearance.
Colour-and-weave effect where the pattern shows small, uniform spots. The reverse side of a flat jacquard weft knitted fabric where the yarns are arranged to show minimum amounts of each colour in an all-over pattern.
Bouclé yarn
Fancy yarn showing an irregular pattern of curls or loops.
Non-jacquard double jersey weft knit structure made on an interlock basis showing horizontal ridges on the effect side.
Figured woven jacquard fabric, usually multicoloured, much used for furnishings.
Plain weave fabric, generally of linen or cotton, which is stiffened during finishing with fillers and starches. Uses include interlinings and bookbinding fabrics.


General term used for plain cotton fabrics heavier than muslin. These are usually left unbleached, area made in a variety of weights, and are often used for making toiles.
Lightweight, closely woven, plain weave fabric, usually made from cotton or linen.
Strong, firm, relatively heavy and rigid, generally plain woven cloth traditionally made from cotton, linen, hemp or jute.
Cavalry twill
Firm woven fabric with a steep twill showing double twill lines, traditionally used for riding breeches and jodphurs.
Lightweight, plain weave cotton cloth with a dyed warp and a white weft.
Open, lightweight, plain weave fabric with a slightly crêpey appearance, usually made from carded cotton yarns with higher than average twist.
Chenille yarn
Fancy yarn produced by weaving a leno fabric and cutting into warp-way strips so that each strip forms the yarn, which has a velvety, caterpillar-like appearance.
Originally a very lightweight, sheer, plain weave fabric made from silk. Now can also be used to describe a similar fabric using other fibres.
Chiné yarn
Originally a 2-fold yarn, one black, one white, giving a regular two colour effect. Term now used to describe any 2-fold, two colour yarn.
Closely woven, lustrous, plain weave cotton fabric, printed or plain, that has been friction calendered or glazed. Much used for curtainings and upholstery.
Natural vegetable fruit fibre from the coconut.
One of several combinations of colours used for a particular fabric.
Wove, cut weft-pile fabric where the cut pile runs in vertical cords along the length of the fabric. A number of different types are found, ranging from pincord (very fine cords) to elephant cord (very broad cords).
Fabric characterised by a crinkled or puckered surface, which can be produced by a number of methods. 1. woven fabric where short, irregular floats in warp and weft are arranged to give an all-over, random pattern within the weave repeat. 2. woven or knitted fabric where the crêpe characteristics are achieved mainly by the use of highly twisted yarns, which in finishing develop the crinkled, puckered appearance of a crêpe. 3. fabric where the crêpe effect is produced in finishing by treatment with embossing rollers, engraved with a crêpe pattern, which impart a crêpe effect onto the fabric through heat and pressure.
Crêpe de chine
Lightweight, plain weave crêpe fabric, made with highly twisted continuous filament yarns in the weft, alternating one S and one Z twist, and with normally twisted filament yarns in the warp. The crêpe effect is relatively unpronounced.
Crepe yarn
Spun or filament yarns that are very highly S or Z twisted used for the production of crepe fabrics.


Lightweight, printed, all wool plain weave fabric.
Doupion (or Dupion)
Silk-breeding term meaning double cocoon, used to describe the irregular, raw rough silk reeled from double cocoons.
Woven twill fabric with a similar structure to denim, but usually piece-dyed.

Egyptian cotton
Type of cotton characterised by long, fine fibres.

Lightweight, open-textured fabric made in plain weave a simple leno weave.
Fine, lightweight, plain weave, crêpe fabric, usually having two highly twisted S and two highly twisted Z yarns alternately in both warp and weft.

Variation on plain weave, where two or more ends and picks weave as one. Sometimes called basket weave.

Indian cotton
Type of cotton characterised by relatively short, coarse fibres.
Fabric used between the inner and outer layers of a garment to improve shape retention, strength, warmth or bulk. Interlinings may be woven, knitted or nonwoven, and can be produced with fusible adhesive on one surface.

Jacquard fabric
A fabric woven on a jacquard loom, where the patterning mechanism allows individual control on any interlacing of up to several hundred warp threads or a rib-based, double jersey weft-knit structure which shows a figure or design in a different colour or texture. Jacquard fabrics are sub-divided into flat-jacquard and blister fabrics.
General term used for any knitted fabric.
Natural vegetable bast fibre, the plant from which the bast jute fibre is obtained.

Coarse fibres present in varying amounts in wool fleece. Usually white, black or brown and can be used to give decorative effects in some wool fabrics.
Knickerbocker yarn
Fancy yarn characterised by random flecks or spots of differently coloured fibres.

Fine, plain weave fabric, traditionally of cotton on linen.
Natural vegetable bast fibre obtained from the flax plant.
Wool from the fleeces of lambs (young sheep up to the age of weaning).
A general name for fabrics where metallic threads are a conspicuous feature.

Square-hole, warp knitted net.
Merino Wool
Wool from the merino sheep, which produces the shortest and finest wool fibres.
Natural animal hair fibre from the angora or mohair goat.
Fabric which shows a moiré or wavy watermark pattern. This is produced by calendaring, usually on a fabric showing a rib or cord effect in the weft direction. The moiré effect can be achieved by embossing with a roller engraved with a moiré pattern, or by feeding two layers of fabric face to face through the calendar. the effect may be permanent or temporary depending on the fibres and the chemicals used.
Firm, woven warp-pile fabric where the pile yarns are lifted over wires, which may or may not have knives. Withdrawal of the wires will give a cut or an uncut pile. Used for upholstery, particularly on public transport vehicles.
General term for very fine, semi-opaque fabrics, finer than muslins, made of silk, wool or cotton.
Lightweight, open, plain or simple leno weave fabric, usually made of cotton.

Narrow Fabric
Any fabric that does not exceed 45 cms in width (in the UK). In the USA and Europe, the accepted upper width is 30 cms. Ribbons, tapes, braids and narrow laces are included in this category.
Natural Fibre
A textile fibre occuring in nature, which is animal, vegetable or mineral in origin.
New wool
Fibre from a sheep or lamb that has not previously been used. Alternative name for virgin wool.
Man made synthetic polymer fibre. Alternative name for polyamide.

Lightweight, plain weave transparent fabric, with a permanently stiff finish.
A sheer, lighweight, plain weave fabric, with a relatively firm drape and handle, traditionally made from the continuous filament of silk yarns. Now often made using other fibres.

Man made synthetic polymer fibre.
Pure Silk
Silk in which there is no metallic or other weighting of any kind, except that which is an essential part of dyeing.

Raw Silk
Continuous filaments containing no twist, drawn off or reeled from cocoons. The filaments are unbleached, undyed and not degummed.

Woven structure where the maximum amount of weft shows on the face. The smooth effect is enhanced by using filament yarns and/or lustrous fibres.
Woven structure where the maximum amount of warp shows on the face. The smooth effect is enhanced by using filament yarns and/or lustrous fibres.
Natural animal protein fibre obtained from the cocoons produced by silkworms.
Silk Noil
Very short silk fibres extracted during silk combing that are too short for producing spun silk. These fibres are usually spun into silk-noil yarns.
Slub yarn
Fancy yarn characterised by areas of thicker, loosely twisted yarn alternating with thinner, harder twisted areas.
Spun silk
Staple fibre silk yarn produced from silk waster which has been largely degummed.
Describes a substance which has been manufactured by building up a complex structure from simpler chemical substances.

Plain weave, closely woven, smooth, crisp fabric with a slight weftways rib, originally made from continuous filament silk yarns. Now often made using other fibres.
A woven warp-pile fabric where the loops are formed by applying a high tension to the ground warp and a very low tension to the pile warp. Beating-up does not occur on every pick, so that when a pick is beaten-up it causes the other picks to be moved into the main body of the cloth, at the same time forming the pile loops on the face and back of the cloth.
Thrown Silk
Yarn twisted from continuous filament silk.

Cut pile weft or warp knitted fabric.
Cut warp-pile fabric, in which the cut fibrous ends of the yarns from the surface of the fabric. Many effects are possible, e.g. the pile may be left erect, or it may be laid in one direction during finishing to give a very high lustre.
Man made natural polymer regenerated cellulose fibre.
Plain weave, semi-sheer, lightweight fabric made with fine, fairly highly twisted yarns. Originally made from cotton, now other fibres are sometimes used.

Lofty sheet of fibres used for padding, stuffing or packing.
Wet spun
Describes man made filaments produced by wet spinning, where the dissolved polymer is converted into filaments by extrusion through the spinneret into a coagulating bath of chemicals, causing the filaments to solidify.

Source Credit: R Haworth