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UpolsteryForum request - recovering a sofa in flannel suiting material

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Last year we were able to score a midcentury modern apartment size sofa from Goodwill with a build date circa 1960. Although it isn't a designer piece (Knoll, Eames etc) it's clean, well made, and in great shape. It even smells OK! The current fabric is a rusty tweed that my wife finds too scratchy.

We're planning to recover the sofa and came across some flannel suiting material for about $40/yard. Is it a good idea to go this route as opposed to a more traditional fabric? Will it be sufficiently durable?

Similar styled sofa for reference:

post #2 of 11
I will defer to anyone who is more familiar with clothing vs. furniture fabrics, but will offer my opinion.

I would guess that upholstery fabric is thicker and would be more durable than flannel suiting fabric. I don't know the cost, but I know Ralph Lauren makes furniture fabric in materials that look like clothing material. I'm sure there are other sources of similar quality, but less cost. I'm also sure there are nicer, more expensive options.

I have a similar era sofa I inherited from my grandparents. As a Christmas gift several years ago, my parents paid to have it re-covered in an RL black/tan houndstooth fabric (hence why I don't know the cost of the fabric). It's a very unique piece of furniture and am always asked where I bought it.
post #3 of 11
I have a club chair upholstered in a charcoal gray flannel material and have had no issues to date.

That being said, it doesn't get the kind of use that a sofa would get.
post #4 of 11
As a designer who uses/recovers a lot of antique and vintage pieces, I would suggest using an upholstery weight fabric for the sofa. These fabrics are constructed for frequent wear by the weave, strength of fabric fibers, etc, and if necessary can be more easily cleaned and protected against accidents versus suiting fabric. Extensive inventory of fabrics can be obtained/viewed at upholstery shop, discount fabric centers, or large fabric warehouse in thurmont, md (site can be found online).
post #5 of 11
When you add-up the labor, material, and trucking costs, would not it be less expensive to buy a new couch?

My decorator says that you can use suiting material, and you should consider the following:

a) the quality and durability of the cloth (go with heavy English goods); and

b) whether the cloth needs to be lined to give it proper weight and heft.

I have seen chairs upholstered in suiting cloth, and they look great. In fact, Holland & Sherry sells its suiting and sportcoating cloths to decorators for upholstery, drapes, and curtains. Typically, this would be used in a study or library or office. I would go with Holland & Sherry.

I would discuss the issue with your upholsterer.

Good luck.

I wou
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Seitelman View Post
When you add-up the labor, material, and trucking costs, would not it be less expensive to buy a new couch?

It may be less expensive to buy new made-in-China furniture, but it's also wasteful & unoriginal. Not really our style.

Our other recovering jobs have turned out well. The couch in question cost $40, was built in Quebec and is well constructed from real wood so I'm OK with a $600-1K recovering cost.

Thanks for the fabric tip--pics may make their way to SF in the future.
post #7 of 11
You should be able to find fabrics suitable for upholstery in the $40 / yard range. Upholstery fabric is more durable and is tested for double rubs (sitting down and standing up counts as double rub). My advice also is to get a quote from an upholsterer, along with how much fabric he'll need. You'll have to get more yards if the fabric has a pattern and you want pattern matching as well. One of the more well known companies is Valley Forge Fabrics. Good luck on your project!
post #8 of 11

I would check out the selection at Mood...

 

http://www.moodfabrics.com/index.php?file=categorylist&icatid=1
 

post #9 of 11
Quote:
Upholstery fabric is more durable and is tested for double rubs (sitting down and standing up counts as double rub).

Upholstery fabrics need to be tested for abrasion. This is what is called Martindale test in Europe and Wyzenbeek test in US. (single vs double runs) A rub is one of cycle of this specific process and it is not you sitting up or down the sofas. An upholstery fabric for residential use requires a minimum of 20,000 rubs.

Valley Forge is a US converter specialized in Flame Retardant fabric for hotel use. All their fabrics should have a minimum of 40,000rubs (amount required for use in public areas ie. restaurants...) and could be a good port of call for upholstery fabrics although I doubt very much they have of flannel type of fabric in their program.
Quote:
I would check out the selection at Mood...

http://www.moodfabrics.com/index.php?file=categorylist&icatid=1

Mood (previously Decosit) used to be the exhibition of reference for upholstery fabrics in the European market. Last editions were very poor and I wonder how long will it last. I
post #10 of 11
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post #11 of 11
I have converse experience. Here are some garments that I made from linen intended for upholstery - brown 700g linen suit, and green 700g linen trousers. (Please ignore the fronts of the coat, I'm still making pattern adjustments to my draft). It'sere extremely comfortable, and looks great - the extra weight hangs divinely, and the high heat conductivity and porosity of linen means that it still wears cooler than wool.

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So, having shopped around a bit among upholsterers, I note that wool tends to be thicker, tighter woven, and felted a bit. There is also a propensity for durable poly mixes; remember, a cushion that you sit on is under a fair bit of mechanical stress. I guess what I'm saying is that it depends on how "dense" and strong your intended flannel is, but you'll probably get more joy out of something like Hainsworth overcoating.
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