Guide To Choosing A Fabric

Which Fabric Should I Choose?

Which is the best fabric? We get asked this a lot! When it comes to choosing a fabric for your new furniture, it can feel a little overwhelming. Picking the right fabric for your lifestyle is as important as deciding on which colour or pattern.

We realise that this decision for some people can be an agonising one, and so we have put together this little guide to help you make the decision.


There are so many considerations when deciding on a fabric for your sofa, chair or bed. How much use will it get? Is it more decorative or will it be used daily? Will you be eating and drinking on the furniture? Do you have kids and/or pets? How do you want the fabric to feel? Do you want a more relaxed, lived-in look, or are you after a more luxurious vibe?

First things first….

Fabric Durability

One of the first things to consider is how much use the fabric can cope with. All upholstery fabric is graded according to the Martindale test. Also known as the rub count, the Martindale is a unit measuring the fabric’s abrasion resistance, or more simply put, the durability of the fabric.

What does the Martindale score mean?

Between 6,000-10,000 – recommended for decorative accessories such as cushions or accents only and not suitable for furniture

10,000-15,000 – a delicate fabric that is more suited for light, occasional use only

15,000-25,000 – fine for everyday use but not recommended for ‘motion furniture’ that puts more stress on the fabric, (by motion furniture we mean items such as sofa beds, recliners etc)

25,000-30,000- suitable for your main furniture and will endure heavy duty use

30,000+ – super durable, commercial grade fabric that can be used on heavy duty furniture

With this in mind, where your piece of furniture will be located is an important consideration. Furniture that is subject to daily wear, like a main family sofa, needs a tough fabric, however items that receive occasional use, such as in more formal spaces or in bedrooms etc will be fine with a less durable fabric.

If you are choosing a fabric for an area with a high footfall then a stain-resistant fabric is always recommended and there are many available now that don’t compromise on the look and feel of your sofa or bed. This leads us on to your next consideration….

Fabric Look & Feel

Your sofa needs to both look and feel good and so texture plays an important role in your decision, and this is very much down to personal taste. Some people love a ‘lived-in’ look, where furniture shows signs of use and so feels inviting and non-threatening, rather than too perfect!

Some people love the tactile feel of velvet as they brush the pile from side to side, other people shudder at the movement of velvet, instead preferring a flat and uniform look. Here we’ve categorised the main fabric types and discussed the qualities and characteristics of each:


Linen is a wonderful, natural fibre that is extremely strong yet soft and smooth. Linen will wrinkle and develop a relaxed, more rustic look over time, so if you are after a casual vibe, rather than a formal look then it’s a great choice. Linen can be used to great effect in a more luxurious scheme as it can ‘tone down’ the formality and help the room to feel inviting.  Linen is often blended with cotton in varying amounts in order to give a greater elasticity and reduce creasing. Linen can pick up marks, especially in lighter shades, and should be professionally cleaned by an upholstery specilist.


Cotton is super soft and durable but in a similar way to linen it is less resistant to soiling and will develop a more relaxed look over time. Cotton is not the most forgiving in terms of picking up marks, especially in the lightest shades.


Wool is a natural fibre that is both durable and cosy. However wool can be a little ‘scratchy’ and not so easy to clean. Generally wool is blended with a synthetic fibre to make it easier to clean and reduce felting.


Traditionally velvets were made from cotton or silk, but modern day velvets tend to be a blend of cotton and polyester or 100% polyester. The polyester velvets provide a strength and durability that is unrivalled, with stain-resistant technology and resistance to wrinkling and abrasion.

Our Fabric Range

We’ve carefully curated a fabric collection that we think ticks all the boxes for your needs. Whether you want a casual, relaxed looking linen/cotton or a more luxurious velvet we have plenty of choice amongst our range.

House Linen Mix  [43% linen, 29% cotton, 19% viscose, 9% polyester. Rub count 40,000]

This affordable linen mix offers a soft supple handle with a gentle lustre finish.

House Woolly [100% polyester. Rub count 40,000]

This faux wool fabric offers all the benefits of a wool look fabric with the added bonus of being very hard wearing.

Linen Union [63% cotton, 37% linen. Rub count 36,000]

Our best-selling Linen Union range is a cotton-linen blend that has a beautiful brushed finish with an exceptionally soft, peach-skin feel. Linen Union is versatile, practical and soft as a baby’s bum!

Ticking Stripe [100% cotton. Rub count 21,500]

A classic, tightly woven cotton fabric that is an extremely elegant and timeless choice for complementing both traditional and contemporary interiors. Suitable for beds and occasional use pieces.

Moleskin Velvet [100% polyester. Rub count 50,000]

A fine velvet with an almost suede-like feel. Stain-resistant, hard-wearing and gorgeously soft.

Savvy Velvet [100% polyester. Rub count 100,000]

This fabulous fabric range is rather smart and has a stain-resistance that allows you extra time to mop up any spills before it sinks into the fabric. It’s incredibly durable with a rub count of 100,000 and is soft to the touch. You get a wonderful luxurious feel with this range and wonderful shading that moves as the light changes in your room. The colour is not a flat colour and changes from light to dark depending on where the light is falling

Cotton Mix [46% cotton, 30% viscose, 14% linen, 10% nylon. Rub count 38,000]

New to our range earlier this year, Cotton Mix is made from recycled yarns, this is a stain-resistant cotton blend that has a more textured appearance. Perfect for a busy home as it is stain-resistant and also washable up to 30 degrees.

Plain Weave [60% viscose, 30% linen, 10% nylon. Rub count 60,000]

Also new to our range this year is this linen blend that offers a soft, supple feel which is contemporary and smart. Stain-resistant and treated with an innovative fire-retardant treatment which is ecologically friendly.

Deep Velvet [28% cotton, 72% polyester. Rub count 100,000]

With a lovely deep pile this velvet is luxurious and durable. Soft to the touch yet stain-resistant and able to cope with the occasional spill.


We hope this helps!

You might also be interested in our Furniture TLC Guide to see our recommendations for caring for your furniture…