TERMINOLOGY

FIBER CHARACTERISTICS

Natural Fibers

  • Dyes, prints and takes special finishes well

  • Durable, high absorbency

  • Excellent resistance to pilling

  • Fair resistance to abrasion

  • Good resistance to soil when treated with a protective finish

Cotton is soft, cream colored cellulosic fiber from the cotton plant. Cotton is strong, sturdy, and the most versatile of the four natural fibers. It is used more often in upholstered furniture than the other natural fibers.

Silk is a fine, strong, shiny protein fiber made from the silkworm's spun cocoon. 

Wool is a soft bulky protein fiber from the fleece of sheep, or angora and cashmere goats. Specialty fibers come from alpaca, camel, lima and vicuna. 

Linen is a crisp, beige colored cellulosic fiber from flax, used with fiber blends in upholstery to give a textured look.

Blends are when no single fiber or finish is superior to all others. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. Certain unique characteristics can make a fiber highly desirable for upholstered furniture. Blending fibers together takes advantage of the best properties of each fiber and can make a better fabric. For example, a sturdy fiber which does not take dye well can be blended with a more fragile one that dyes beautifully. The result: a beautiful heavy duty fabric that is suitable for use in heavier applications.

Man-made Fibers

  • Available in deep, rich, vivid colors

  • Strong and durable

  • Easy to clean, dries quickly

  • Resists spotting due to low absorbency

  • Resistant to moths, mildew and rotting

Acetate is made from cellulose and has a luxurious look and feel. Acetate requires special dyes, but colors are permanent. It is very economical, yet looks like silk when blended with other fibers.

Acrylic is the most natural of the man-made fibers. It is soft, warm, lightweight and is used to make many of today's soft plush or fur-like fabrics.

Dralon is a rich, lustrous appearing acrylic fiber that offers high wear resistance, good air permeability, excellent color fastness, pleasing hand and appearance, unusual luster in the pile, and is moth proof and easily cleaned.

Nylon is smooth, lustrous and the strongest of all fibers. It can be made into smooth, flat shiny fabrics, pile fabrics, or textured fabrics.

Olefin is the lightest in weight of all man-made fibers providing good bulk and surface coverage.

Marquesa Lana and Trace Olefin are filament versions of olefin. The filament construction makes the fabric easy to clean, lends tremendous abrasion resistance and inherent fire retardancy. 

Polyester is a soft, lightweight fiber with great strength and good resistance to abrasion. It has been used successfully in easy-to-care-for apparel, and is now available in upholstery fabrics. 

Rayon is the first of the man-made fibers. It is almost pure cellulose and is soft and comfortable with a good feel. It looks like silk when combined with other fibers and is easy to clean.

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Wyzenbeek involves rubbing along the warp and weft of the fabric whereas Martindale is a figure-8 rub. The Wyzenbeek and Martindale tests are the two methods commonly used to predict durability.

 

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*What is a good Martindale rating?

 

For general domestic use within the home, the Martindale value should be between 15,000-25,000, although this is not suitable for reclining furniture and sofa beds, as these tend to put more pressure on the fabric. Fabrics suitable for heavy duty use are classified as having a Martindale value of between 25,000-30,000 

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