Deciding to invest in a new sofa is a big decision, and you might just be wondering what type would suit your home best. Opting for fabric is a great choice, as there are so many materials available, each with their own benefits. However, unless you are an expert on the subject, the wide selection to pick from can sometimes feel a little intimidating.
Here at Sofas by Saxon, we always want you to make an informed decision before buying a sofa, chair, corner sofa, sofa bed, or footstool, so we’ve put together this guide to choosing the fabric that’s right for you. Read on to find out more.
Why should I consider a fabric sofa?
A fabric sofa is the perfect choice if you are on the lookout for something with a more relaxed, modern look and a softer feel for your home. There is a whole world of colours, textures, and finishes to explore, so you are guaranteed to find something that is the perfect match for your décor.
Even traditional furniture can look great in fabric — just look at our fabric Chesterfield sofas, chairs, and sofa beds to see how a well-chosen material can enhance the look of a piece that is usually associated with leather. Plus, as our pieces are completely bespoke, we can even incorporate more than one leather or fabric to create an eclectic look (find out more about our made to measure furniture here).
Many modern fabric upholsteries are hardwearing and easy to take care of. You can also protect your fabric sofa further by applying a stain-resistant coating that will give you peace of mind about keeping it in superb condition. Plus, you can always consult our fabric care guide should you need advice about maintaining your new settee.
What type of fabric sofa should I choose?
You should choose the fabric sofa that best meets your preferences for décor, practicality, and comfort. As we’ve mentioned, there are plenty of options for you to choose from, each with their own benefits. To help you choose, we’ve taken a closer look at some of the finest fabrics below.
Wool is rapidly becoming one of the most popular sofa fabrics, with many people choosing it for its luxurious feel and striking looks, as well as its fine comfort and great durability. Here’s why wool makes such an excellent choice:
·Adaptability: Wool takes very well to almost every dye, meaning that it can be customised into every colour of the rainbow. Thanks to this ability, you’re sure to find wool in a shade that will suit your own home interior.
·Strength: The fibres in wool have a coiled shape, which gives the material the ability to regain its natural form. This natural crimp helps wool resist becoming flattened and hardened, helping your upholstery stay in its original form. This inherent durability also helps wool sofas to withstand the rigours of regular use without losing any of its colouring.
·Easy-care: The compact formation of wool’s fibres make it hard for dust and dirt particles to infiltrate the outer layer of the material. Because of this, these particles tend to rest on the surface, allowing for much easier cleaning. The density of the fabric also makes it harder for spills to seep into the inner material, so it takes longer for stains to form.
·Low static charge: Wool has a naturally low static charge, which means dirt and dust are less likely to cling to your sofa.
·Flame retardant: Thanks to the large quantity of nitrogen and moisture found in the make-up of wool, it is naturally flame retardant. This means it will be much harder for it to catch fire should the material come close to or touch an open flame. Wool doesn’t give off fumes when alight either, which are the biggest killers in house fires.
·Hypoallergenic: Because of its natural fibres, wool excels at resisting funguses and bacteria, such as mould and mildew, which is great for the general health of your household, especially those with allergies.
Wool choices at Sofas by Saxon
As we’ve just established, wool is a pretty great choice of fabric for your sofa. It comes in many varieties, some of which we stock here at Sofas by Saxon. Let’s investigate the great wools available to choose from in our collections.
Herringbone wool benefits from attractive patterning options, great breathability, fantastic insulation, and strong durability, all of which make it an appealing choice for sofa upholstery.
This wool gets its name from the ‘zig-zag’ markings on the back of a herring, a characteristic that is present in its distinctive patterning. This angled effect is created by cutting and reversing sections of a broken twill weave, where two similar colours can be combined to give a ‘heather’ effect, which can look like a solid colour block when viewed from afar. On the other hand, contrasting threads can be woven together for an eye-catching, contrasting appearance.
The advantages of herringbone don’t stop at aesthetics either, as the material is highly practical. Thanks to the way it is woven, it has a greater bulk than many fabrics, which lends it fantastic insulative properties. This means that you can look forward to cosying up on a lovely warm sofa in the winter. At the same time, because most types of wool have great breathability, your herringbone sofa will be a cool place to rest in the summer too. Another practical attribute can be found in the material’s closely woven fibres, which ensure that it is strong, durable, and more than able to stand up to daily use.
If you’d like to explore your options, our herringbone wool collection contains many patterns and colours that would make an excellent choice for your sofa.
Plaid is one of the world’s most popular patterns, and can be found across a whole range of industries, from clothing to furniture upholstery. Our plaid wool collection combines this iconic style with the strengths of 100% new wool, which include enhanced breathability and insulative properties, luxurious softness, and surprising strength.
The distinctive criss-cross effect of plaid is fashioned using dyed threads woven together at right angles to produce vertical and horizontal bands. The colour and geometry of the pattern can be changed up in an endless variety of ways, which has led to the creation of such classic plaids as tartan, gingham, madras, and tattersall.
If you want to get all of the benefits of 100% new wool, as well as owning a piece that makes a great statement as part of your home décor, plaid wool is a great choice. It looks as good on its own as it does when it is coordinated with other materials, so you can easily achieve that eclectic look if you wish.
Tweed is a heavyweight wool that is has a beautiful twill pattern and luxurious feel. It’s also strong and durable enough for everyday wear and tear. The word comes from ‘tweel’, the Scottish term for twill. Every tweed undergoes the same type of manufacturing process and where it is woven on a special loom.
‘Harris Tweed’ is one of the most famous styles, and has a unique heritage all of its own. It is created with 100% new wool exclusively in the Outer Hebrides islands of Scotland. Every batch that is manufactured has to meet the same high standards, which is strictly regulated and stamped with a badge of authenticity. With ‘Harris Tweed’, you can be sure that your sofa will be upholstered in a fabric of only the very finest quality.
‘Harris Tweed’ is a very versatile fabric that, thanks to its many colours and patterns, can work perfectly on its own or when combined with other leathers or fabrics. Explore the full scope of our Harris Tweed collection to find the one that matches your décor.
Alongside leather, velvet is one of the best upholstery choices if you are trying to capture a luxurious look for your sofa. There are a few materials that are simply timeless, and velvet is one of them. It’s been woven for around four millennia, remaining a favourite with those looking for a touch of class for their furniture.
How is velvet made?
Velvet is a double cloth that requires a specialist loom when it is woven. Two pieces of material are produced at the same time, with threads being worked through the fabric at two levels simultaneously. These sections are then cut with a blade to produce two separate rolls of velvet. It is what is known as a ‘pile’ fabric, a name given to cloths whose fibres stick up to produce a soft ‘pile’ layer.
Why choose velvet for my sofa?
As we’ve touched upon, velvet looks incredible when upholstered on a sofa. Its gorgeous texture also gives it a sumptuous feel that you can spend hours relaxing upon. This makes it a great choice if you want something that both looks and feels great.
Because it's a such a timeless covering, this fabric looks great on more traditional sofa designs, such as a Chesterfield — take a look at our velvet Chesterfield sofas and sofa beds to see exactly what we mean. In addition, velvet is an extremely dye-friendly fabric, meaning you have a whole plethora of colours to choose from. Because of this, it is a versatile material that can be adapted to suit many décors.
One thing that many people don’t realise about velvet is that it is a strong and durable upholstery fabric. Even though it has a soft feel, it’s able to stand up to everyday use without a problem. Furthermore, its fibres don’t have loops, so there is little chance of studs, buttons, or even your pet’s claws getting stuck and tugging at the material. Like leather, any scuffs or scrapes that your velvet settee picks up will only enhance its timeless, antiqued appearance.
Velvet choices at Sofas by Saxon
We’ve sourced our luxury Knightsbridge velvet from one of the very best fabric mills in Italy. It’s a premium material that is woven with 100% cotton to the highest standards on the market. This type of velvet is also known as velveteen, and thanks to its all-natural fibres, it’s one of the most hardwearing around.
This organic fabric is also resistant to mould and funguses, making it completely hypoallergenic — a good choice for anyone with allergies. We can upholster our Knightsbridge velvet alongside other materials, like leather or wool, to create a contrasting look with different shades and textures.
Along with velvet, linen is another fabric that has remained a firm favourite for thousands of years. This is because of its natural beauty and practical qualities, which many people have come to value in their homes.
How is linen made?
Linen is woven with fibres from the flax plant, which undergo a special treatment before they can be worked with. Over the centuries, the process has been automated, but still follows the same basic principle as thousands of years before.
The first part of this is a procedure called ‘retting’, where bacteria is used to decompose the bonds holding the fibres to the plant. This is followed by something called ‘scutching’, where the plant’s stalks are removed by passing each piece through a system of two metal rollers before they are ‘heckled’ into useable threads for the weaving process. This last stage is undertaken using combs to tease the fibres into more manageable strands. From this point, they can be woven into linen as we recognise it.
Why choose linen for my sofa?
Linen is a great choice for a sofa’s upholstery for a number of reasons. Let’s take a closer look at why many people select this material for their homes:
·Beauty: Linen has a wonderful natural sheen, which is one of the primary reasons people want to incorporate it into their home. The unique texture of the fabric looks particularly attractive in natural light, which makes it a good choice for rooms with a bright décor.
·Feel: Linen is a soft fabric that is cool to the touch in even the hottest weather. In the summer, a linen settee is the ideal place to seek refuge if you want to lie back and really relax. As linen only gets softer as it wears in, your sofa will only get comfier as the years go by.
·Colour choice: Linen is another fabric that holds its dye very well, opening the door to a whole range of colours. This gives you a lot of versatility when trying to find something that matches the look for your own home.
·Low maintenance: Thanks to the compact weave of its fibres, linen is not prone to letting dust and dirt into the inner layers of the fabric. Furthermore, the natural elasticity of the material prevents particles from settling on the surface.
·Allergy-friendly: As we’ve mentioned, linen is woven from natural plant fibres, so it is hypoallergenic. This is a quality that also makes it resistant to microbes that can aggravate allergies.
·Durability: Linen is a flexible yet strong fabric and will stand up to a lot of wear and tear. Just look at US dollars, which are printed on paper that is 25% linen to provide extra strength. In addition, its fibres are long and smooth, so they won’t shed or pile like some fabrics.
Linen choices at Sofas by Saxon
Here at Sofas by Saxon, we offer premium-quality linen as a finish for your handmade sofa. Our expertly selected Whitewell linen was chosen by a team of highly-experienced upholsterers for its sumptuous feel and attractive brushed, distressed finish. This weave has a special blend of 65% cotton and 35% linen, which makes it more heavyweight and durable for use on a sofa. It also benefits from a soft peach-skin.
Here at Sofas by Saxon, we understand that choosing a sofa is a big decision, so we hope this guide can help you make an informed decision. Our team of experts specialise in selecting the best fabrics from the finest mills around the world, so whichever one that you opt for, we’re confident that you will love your new furniture. Take a look at our fabric collection before choosing your sofa, chair, corner sofa, sofa bed, or footstool, and we’re sure you’ll find one you love.
If you want to take a closer look at our fabrics before you make a final decision, our free sample service will deliver swatches to your door. This is the ideal way to get a better handle of the colour, texture, and feel of our upholstery materials before you place your order.
Our skilled team of craftspeople are also able to work with a material of your own choosing if you’ve spotted something yourself. They can help you source the fabric and get it upholstered onto your furniture, and are more than willing to accommodate special requests. If you’d like to discuss this option, or ask any other questions about our products, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Please be aware that dye from none colour fast clothing and garments can transfer onto leather/fabric and is usually more noticeable on light leather/fabric colours such as whites, creams and ivory. We also recommend to always check your labels on your clothing and garments for further information.