Bleached Fabric & Environmental Impact

Black Mohair Velvet Contemporary Chair
Black faux leather upholstery
Black faux leather upholstery

Most of us are familiar with household (chlorine-based) bleach, which is sodium hypochlorite. It is a very powerful bleaching agent and, like similar agents used in the industrial bleaching of fabrics, it has by-products that include; dioxins, furans and organochlorides.

An alternative to a chlorine based bleach is Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2). This has medical uses and domestic uses such as for bleaching hair.

Hydrogen peroxide occurs naturally by the action of sunlight on water and is simply water plus an extra oxygen molecule (2 lots of H20 plus one lot of 02 equals 2 lots of H2o2 for all you chemists). Hydrogen peroxide is quite reactive and so easily gives up some of its oxygen to revert back to water. This act of giving up oxygen to something else, like fabric, causes the fabric or impurities in it to be oxidised. The oxidised parts of the fabric are chemically changed and lose their colour. They remain there but their colour is changed. That’s what makes it a bleach and so the end products are just the oxidised fabric and water.

Natural linen has a light brown or beige colour. To go lighter than this it has to be either bleached, or bleached and dyed.

If your clients are environmentally conscious and concerned about the environmental impact of the products they buy from you, it would be prudent to ensure that your linen is hydrogen peroxide bleached rather than chlorine bleached.

Upholstery Linen

Upholstery Linen Chair Bibendum Eileen Gray

LinenPinksUntil recently the finest linen was made exclusively in Western Europe. Whilst many of those producers still exist, much production has been shifted to the Far East. At KOTHEA, we endeavour to use European linen partly for sentimental reasons as we love the fabrics our mills have continued to deliver to us but also becuase the enviornmental impact of them is good and the quality fantastic.

Many of our natural linens are hydrogen peroxide bleached which is less environmentally damaging than the traditional use of the stronger chlorine-based bleach. Then, when colour is required, we typically only use dyes from natural materials.

Linen

Elegant, beautiful, durable, this luxury fabric is the strongest of the vegetable fibres and has 2 to 3 times the strength of cotton. It is smooth, making the finished fabric lint free and ensures that it only gets softer and finer the more it is washed. Linen comes from flax, a bast fibre taken from the stalk of the plant. The lustre is from the natural wax content, with it’s colour ranging from creamy white to light tan. Linen does wrinkle but also presses easily when damp. Linen, like cotton, can also be boiled without damaging the fibre.

The decrease in use of linen may be attributed to the industrialisation of cotton production (a cheaper fibre), the increasing quality of synthetic fibers, and a decreasing appreciation of buyers for very high quality yarn and fabric. Very little top quality linen is produced now, and most is used in low volume applications like hand weaving, as an art material, or table and bed linens.

Although the actual growing of linen is free of the extensive spraying and use of pesticides used on cotton, it is the production process that can be environmentally damaging – the extensive water consumption and the chemicals and mordants used in the dying process. Our Eco linen is of the highest grade, is hand loomed in Latvia and is undyed. It is bleached using low impact hydrogen peroxide rather than chlorine. See also Dye and Bleach, above, for further details.

Fabric Treatment Companies – FR Flameproofing

silk velvet upholstery fabric textile FR Martindale RubsWe are often asked to recommend farbic treatment companies for flame retarding in contract installations. Most treatment comapanies offer other services such as; back coating fabric for walls, and stain resistance/repellency. There are several such companies in the UK and at various times we have used all of the following:

Essex Flameproofing,

Textiles FR, and

TEK Treatments

Just click the company name to take you to their web site. Please feel free to add comments to this posting recommending any suppliers you have used but any negative comments about other companies are not permitted on this site. Thank you.

Upholstery Linen – Sourcing Luxury Upholstery Linen in the UK

Upholstery Linen
Upholstery Linen

Upholstery Linen is notoriously difficult for interior designers to source. Sourcing linens for curtains is easy enough but often linens are not woven with sufficient strength to score Martindale results that are high enough to warrant using the fabric for upholstery.

Some suppliers can be a little evasive and will quote the weight of the linen as a measure of the linen’s quality. The implicaiton being that the higher the weight the better suited the fabric will be for upholstery. There is some thuth in that implication but you cannot say for certain that a high weight linen is inherently suitable for upholstery. Get the Martindale!

Most KOTHEA luxury upholstery linens have inherent Martindale rub tests of around 20,000 rubs with one range further strengthened to 85,000 rubs for contract usage – 20,000 Martindale being eminently suitable for domestic upholstery.

Furthermore when buying upholstery- (or curtain-) linen you need to know whether or not it will shrink when washed. Linen ALWAYS shrinks. So what you have to find out is whether or not it has been pre-shrunk before you buy it. A common way of pre-shrinking linen is through the sanforisation process.

Click To Read More Interior Design Articles
Click To Read More Interior Design Articles

Here are the details of our new 2011 upholstery linens that are named Recline, Relax and Restful. We have many others, these are just the new ones:

Name: Recline

Usage: Luxury Contract Upholstery

Colourways: 24

Width:   135cm

Comp:  54% Li 35% Co 11% Pa

Weight: >350g/m2

Notes:   Martindale >85,000

Request Samples

Name: Relax

Usage: Luxury Domestic Upholstery

Colourways: 24

Width:  135cm

Comp: 100% Li

Weight: >265 g/m2

Notes:   Martindale >15,000

Request Samples

Name: Restful

Usage: Heavyweight Luxury Domestic Upholstery

Colourways: 4

Width:  135cm

Comp: 100% Li

Weight: >470 g/m2

Notes:   Martindale >45,000

Request Samples

KOTHEA 2010 Fabric Collections

Finally! Our summer collections have been decided and we will begin to introduce the new designs and colourways throughout the remainder of this year. We have been inundated with new work in the first part of this year causing our blog posts to be curtailed and our ‘spring’ collection to nearly be an autumn/fall collection. Not that we really do seasonal collections in any case.

I will return later in another post to KOTHEA’s quite remarkable sales figures for the financial year just finished. Most surprising, especially considering we are in the midst of a recession. We had our best ever year and by quite a large margin.

We expect some coverage of the new collections in World of Interiors and Elle decoration but, again, more on that at another time.

Where can you see our collections? Well, we are as elusive as ever but we are starting to digitize some images to our flickr feed (click the images on the right or here). The flickr update is ongoing, there is information on flickr now but some of the images are not final and some images do not have full associated descriptions / product details but we are woking on that this week. Our usual clients will receive the new collections in due course starting in late summer; if you need them more urgently for pressing projects of course we will be happy to oblige. Please get in contact in the usual way.

Not all are in production yet but most sampling is available now.

As a very broad summary we have:

1. New colours of several existing ranges including faux leather;

2. More velvets including patterned and crush;

3. Striped, double width linens;

4. Upholstery weight linen; and

5. A few more interesting one-off designs in limited colourways like the one heading up this blog post.

Share, Accredit & Enjoy!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

What are the finest yacht linens?

The world’s most luxurious linens are feted by business leaders, top entertainers and royalty the world over. They are found extensively in the villas, yachts and chalets that few are rarely are privileged to see.

Quality, excellence by the use of the finest natural fibres and craftsmanship establish and maintain the leading linen companies’ reputations in that market.

KOTHEA’s unmistakeable handwoven linens continue to set the highest standards for the competition to follow.

Cashmere throws – bespoke / custom sizes

To supplement our range of coloured cashmere throws (147 x 183 cm), we now have the ability to weave 100% cashmere throws in any size up to a maximum width of 220cm in off-white and natural colours.

Our hand woven linen throws (pictured) can also be woven in bespoke dimensions, to order.

Black & Pink Fabrics

Sometimes we can all get a little carried away with the modern staples of colour. The muted neutrals, the taupe and dare I even say it, beige.

We’ve added some new colours to several of our ranges. Shades of pink and black! Not earth shattering news perhaps but black velvets and pink linens are asked for more often than you’d think.

KOTHEA also have black fabrics in interesting textures such as mohair velvet, bobbly wool and a cord / corduroy.

Dyes and Pigments in Fabric

A Brief History of Natural Dyes (Mordants)

A dye is a substance that gives colour to fabric. Usually in a way such that washing, heating or lighting does not change the colour greatly.

Dyes tend to be carbon based (ie organic in a chemical sense) whereas pigments are very fine powders ‘disolved’ in a liquid. Pigments generally give brighter colours and are man-made.

Dyes have existed for at least 4000 years and, before 1850, were almost entirely from natural sources such as plants, trees and lichens but also sometimes from insects. Here are some natural dyes, rarely used today, and their sources:

1. Yellow
Seeds, stems and leaves of the weld plant
The inner bark of the North American oak ‘quercetin’
Dried petals of false saffron (safflower)

2. Red
Crushed insect bodies from Coccus (cochineal) or it’s distant relation Kermes.

3. Blue
From indigo or woad

4. Purple
From the medium sized predatory sea snail ‘commonly’ known as Murex.

5. Black
From the middle wood of the Logwood tree. This is still used today to dye silk and leather and is combined with Chromium. I have written other articles about how this ‘natural’ dye is one of the most damaging to the environment because of the use of chromium.

The art of the dye was historically a closely guarded secret with practitioners having their formulae to produce the colours and to retain them by the addition of various metal salts.

Cotton could not be directly dyed whereas wool and silk could. To add a dye to cotton the cotton had to be first treated with salts made from aluminium (red), magnesium (violet), tin, calcium (purple-red), copper, barium (blue) and iron (black-violet) and then dyed. These salts are called mordants.

The Start Of Synthetic Dyes

In the 1850s Chromium was found to give superior dye retention and so started the decline of the natural dye. Chromium mordants are still widely used for wool and less so for silk and nylon.

More precisely, the first commercially successful dye was ‘mauve’ discovered in England in 1856 and taken to market the following year. It was only sold for about 7 years but that was sufficient to start the dramatic decline of natural dyes and the investment in the science for newer and better dyes.

The Chromium discovery meshed well with the Industrial Revolution. The massively growing textile industry in Europe required a cheap and predictable manufacturing process. Natural dyes and mordants could require up to 20 steps in production, the colour could be variable and the dyes had to be transported unreliably from around the world. Because of these factors and the development of chemical science it is easy to see how by-products of coal tar extraction & coke production, abundant in Europe, became the foundation of the modern dye industry.

By 1900 nearly 90 percent of industrial dyes were synthetic.

Pre-war (WWI) Germany dominated the commercial dye market accounting for 90% of all output. Many German scientists worked with distilled cemicals from coal tar, an abundant by-product of the industrial revolution at the time. The German succes was probably due to their investment in the scientific method and in training scientists themselves. Some further ‘by-products’ of the research include aspirin and saccharin.

After WWI the industry gravitated to Britain (ICI), the USA and Switzerland, also moving away from coal tar to petroleum based research.

Perhaps only now with the ‘green’ movement are we seeing a resurgence of interest in natural dyes. KOTHEA cautions the environmentally conscious reader to look carefully at claims of dyes to be natural. Whilst they may well be made from natural materials the processes used along the way can be VERY damaging to the environment.

Share & Enjoy

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to Ma.gnoliaAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine