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Fabrics and Leather

Everyone visualizes the transforming effect of the fabric on a re-created sofa or chair. You could say the fabric "is part of the fun" of reupholstering. Fabric has character and personality. It speaks for your taste, your style. And in your own home, it can be as personal and individual as your signature.

Fabric is also one of the two big costs in Re-upholstery (the other is labour). So it's important to get good value as well as good fashion. The bigger the choice, the better the chance of finding a fabric that suits both your decor and your budget. This is where Re-upholstery gives you the benefit of rich variety and enormous volume. The selection is practically endless.

There are literally thousands of samples to choose from, imported and domestic, when combining the resources of all the fabric suppliers, all in different grades of quality.

How do you judge for wear?

As a general rule, tightly-woven fabrics and fabrics that are heavy will stand up to wear and tear better, as will leather. Fabrics such as satins, brocades or damasks are more delicate, and should be reserved for places where they’ll get less use or for soft furnishings such as scatters.

For example, one square inch of fabric with 8 or 10 thick threads doesn't have the strength of one square inch densely packed with 30 to 40 thin threads. To check a fabric yourself, hold it up to the light. The less light that shows through, the tighter the weave.

The Australian standard for measuring the durability of fabrics uses the Martindale Rub Test to recommend the end-use of the fabric.

Fibres also make a difference in wear. Natural fibres, like cotton, take colour differently from man-made fibbers. They can be richer, more subtle. While the man-mades have resilience and strength. That's how the blends came into use. So cotton with polyester, for example, gives you the best attributes of both. Other blends will use nylon, acrylic, and rayon. And man-made fibbers alone (far advanced over the earlier versions) make many attractive long wearing pieces.

The appearance of certain textures will vary with use. Fabrics with a nap, like velvets, corduroys and faux suedes look different in different lights, and show wear where they've been sat upon. Silks are more delicate, but many are fortified with man-made fibres. And fabrics with highly textured surfaces like loopy tweeds and homespun’s can "pull" after a while. For cleanability, each fibre has its compensating feature. Natural fibres absorb soil faster than man-made fibres, but clean better. While man-made fibres are more soil resistant, but don't always clean as well. Many fabrics are treated with soil-resistant finishes, but the finish doesn't last forever, so be prepared after a time, to have the upholstery cleaned and the stain repellent reapplied.

Leather and Upholstery

Full grain leather

Full/Pure Aniline Leather that's been drum dyed without pigment applied to the surface. A light protective coating is sometimes added to enhance appearance and offer some protection against wear and soiling. It will exhibit all natural features such as scars, growth marks, fat wrinkles and brands.
  • The most natural leather exhibiting all natural markings and colour variations within the hide and from hide to hide
  • Will breathe and be warm in winter and cooler in summer
  • Soft to handle
  • Lower light fastness and if not protected will potentially fade more quickly than more highly processed leathers
  • Susceptible to soiling if used in high traffic areas.
  • Suitable for formal living areas. Requires regular care.

Pull! Up Aniline Drum dyed aniline leather with a topcoat of oil and wax effects, designed to exhibit a 'distressed look'.

  • Will breathe and be warm in winter and cooler in summer
  • Lightens in colour when stretched to produce a distressed effect, particularly in seating areas
  • Wax or oil effects can be evened out in appearance by hand rubbing the surface.
  • Suitable for formal living areas. Requires regular care!

Nubuck (leather suede) Drum dyed aniline leather where the surface grain has been buffed to give a fine, suede-like nap.

Nubuck requires a clear protective coating to provide liquid repellence. Suede-like finish

  • Requires specific care products
  • Suitable for formal living areas. 
  • Requires regular care with Nubuck specific care products.

Semi-Aniline Drum dyed leather, incorporating a small amount of pigment and protective finish so as not to conceal the natural characteristics of the hide. High light fastness

  • Soft, but not as soft as Pure Aniline
  • Durable
  •   Retains natural grain appearance • Easy to clean.
  •   Suitable for formal, family and dining areas. Requires regular care.

Pigmented Drum dyed with a thicker layer of pigment and protective finish applied to create an even colour and texture. Higher light fastness

  • More durable
  • Easier to clean
  • Easier to care for
  • Surface covered with pigment
  • Not as soft as Pure Aniline or Semi Aniline
  •  No natural appearance or characteristics.
  •  Suitable for formal, family and dining areas. Requires regular care!

Corrected Grain Drum dyed with the natural grain removed; a layer of pigment or protective finish is applied. The leather is then embossed with an artificial grain to provide a uniform appearance.

  • Higher light fastness
  • More durable
  • Easier to clean
  • Easier to care for
  • Surface covered with pigment
  • Not as soft as Pure Aniline or Semi Aniline
  • Grain pattern is stamped onto the surface leaving no natural appearance or characteristics.
  • Suitable for formal, family and dining areas. Requires regular care.

Reconstructed Leather

Finished splits Re-coated corrected grain pigmented leather made from the more porous under layers of hide.

  •   Embossed to mimic grain leather
  •   Less durable than grain leather
  •   Firm feel
  •   Easy to dean
  •   Suitable for small section office furniture such as office chairs and stools, dining chairs and carcass (frame and surrounds) of lounge suites. Requires regular care.

Note: There are many examples of leather advertised as "By Cast".

This is where a laminate is applied to the more porous under layers of the hide. Although this type of product is often advertised as By Cast leather, it is not considered, under the terms of this and many international standards, to be leather.

Cover-it Upholstery

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