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1  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Discussion and Questions / Suede or Ultrasuede on: February 06, 2010 12:15:41 PM
With so many different products on the market, it's hard to differentiate the difference between types of suede. I know as a fabric retailer that the average consumer does not have time to sort it all out on their own- and even if they wanted to know- there is so much dis-information out there that I feel the subject needs some clarification. Pass this topic on to any of your friends who may be in the market.


Suede is popular right now. Big surprise, but almost every fabric company offers some variety of suede fabric and every furniture company has some couch, sectional, or chair covered with it.

I am not going to try to direct you to any particular brand or company that offers it (for complete non-disclosure, I'll be up front and tell you that I do sell suede fabrics)- you should always shop around for the best price, colors, or fit for your project.  What I will do, however, is go over a few things that are commonly misunderstood.

1. Not all suedes are created alike

I like to call point number one- there is only one Ultrasuede. Ultrasuede is a patented brand name fabric. It is made in Japan by a company called Toray. They created the process to create Ultrasuede and it involves fusing together millions of microscopic strands of material together to make a virtually indestructible fabric. The wholesale price for Ultrasuede is very steep. Suffice it to say, you probably won't find Ultrasuede for under $80 per yard at very many places. The typical generic suede costs much less- and is almost always made in China. One store that I worked for bought it by the roll and sold it for just under $20 per yard.

2. Durability

Fabric durability is measured in double rubs. A double rub is an abrasion test that is supposed to reproduce normal use. I don't know how much wear your butt will do to a fabric- but if you figure that people tend to move around while sitting, or have hard objects like keys or cell phones or wallets in their pockets- then you will start to see the actual wear and tear involved in sitting down.

Ultrasuede rates at 250,000 double rubs. Your generic suede? Between 30,000 and 50,000. What does that mean? Well, mathematically, Ultrasuede is five times more durable. If you cost average based on use- you will see that you come out slightly ahead using ultrasuede - not to mention the fact you won't have to reupholster your furniture as much. 

3. Colors? Brand name suedes typically are offered in collections of 80-100 colors. Generic suedes- such as Ritz from Showcase Fabrics or Passion Suede from Morgan Fabrics come in much smaller collections. Most generic suede colors are made for sale to lower end furniture manufacturers- so you will find lots of neutrals- colors will tend to be jewel tone. Higher end suedes are too expensive for the furniture trade to buy and use for mass production. Even at wholesale a 20 yard couch of Ultrasuede will cost Baker Furniture or Henredon $1500 or so just in fabric. This is why better fabrics are offered for custom jobs than for mass produced furniture.

4. Quality Control. My former fabric company had a problem. We sold a lipstick colored suede to a customer who upholstered her couch, sat on the couch once it was delivered, got up, and noticed her White Channel Pants had a big red mark on her backside. This issue is called "crocking" and it happens more often than you'd think with low quality fabrics. Obviously, my company did the best we could to make it right- but without an explicit warranty from the manufacturer- you are pretty much on your own if this issue pops up.

5. In closing- there are many high quality suedes out there. Robert Allen, Duralee, Kravet and Schumacher (just to name a few) have their own excellent lines of suede. There is only one Ultrasuede, however- and now that you know the difference you will look at suedes from a completely different perspective.

2  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Discussion and Questions / Sherman Williams teams up with Robert Allen on: February 02, 2010 11:06:53 PM
This is good news if you are into designer fabrics and want to make the process of getting matching paints! I just read through my designer channels that Robert Allen has signed up with Sherman Williams to launch a collection of paints that match up to some of Robert Allen's most popular new collections.

I've been working on a similar project with a paint colorist and we were having problems getting Sherman Williams to sign off on our request to allow us to fax them our own proprietary formulas. Now I know why!

I think this is really good news overall, Robert Allen is one of America's largest fabric companies.
3  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Discussion and Questions / Some Tips Regarding Outdoor Fabrics on: January 15, 2010 06:29:07 AM
I know it's cold outside, but I figured now is the perfect time to think forward to spring and summer and mention some pointers about outdoor fabrics.

If you are going to redo your outdoor cushions keep a few things in mind:

1. All colors fade
2. The speed at which they fade is measured using a term called: lightfastness
3. Lightfastness is measured in hours: 400 hours typically means one season
4. Sunbrella is not a type of outdoor fabric it is a brand- there are other equally great brands so don't use Sunbrella as a generic term (it's like Kleenex and Tissue or Xerox and Copy)
5. Red colors fade the quickest- avoiding red will be a cost saver in the long run.

With that in mind, I wanted to let you know that most outdoor fabrics really are not. Major brands market polyester fabrics as outdoor fabrics- but what they are are simply polyester fabrics with an added finish that resists things like mildew and stain resistance.  They typically fade over the course of a season or two and will need to be replaced after a year.

Better outdoor fabrics are typically made from a solution dyed acrylic that is specifically made for outdoor use. The better of these have a lightfastness of 1000 hours+. It's possible to find high quality outdoor fabrics for as little as $40 per yard - but they can run up beyond $100 per yard based on the brand and complexity of the weave and color combination.

If you want my opinion on any outdoor fabric- I'm more than happy to give some input. Get samples before you buy if you can and do your research. It will save you big bucks in the long run!

Charles Morgan

4  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Discussion and Questions / Verner Panton's Stacking Chair Turns 50 Years Old on: December 24, 2009 03:30:46 PM
For you furniture lovers out there, Verner Panton's Stacking Chair is 50 years old in 2010. Patton was an incredible Dutch designer and artist. He not only created timeless furniture- but also some inspiring fabric designs. His great Geometri1, also from 1960, is being made in the United States by maharam.

If anybody has one of these great chairs and would like to post a photo, I'd love to see it!

5  HOME SWEET HOME / Interior Decorating: Discussion and Questions / Home Decor Fabric Expertise: Ask Away! on: December 06, 2009 07:26:12 PM
Hi everybody. I'm brand new to the forum. I've long wanted to participate in the fabric online community and I have some free time now that I'm home with my darling baby boy.

A little bit about my background. I've been in the fabric business for seven years- mainly as a buyer for a large wholesale company. I created one of the bigger online fabric webstores- but seeing as I've been laid off by them I'll not mention who they are.  Angry

I'll check back often if anybody has some questions about home decor fabrics. I've got a great eye for design and know just about every fabric from every brand. I know what you should be paying for it- whether its suitable for your project... whether your cat or kids will mess it up... you name it.

So let me know if there's anything you need to know.

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