When having to choose between different fabrics, there are many options to consider, including the type of fabric, color, the pattern, the size, and the price. The type of fabric can be overwhelming for some, but a simple choice for other's. Becoming familiar with the different types of fabrics will help to remove some of the confusion on purchasing not just futon slipcovers, but also pillows, bedding and clothing.
To start, fabrics can be divided into two main categories; natural fabrics and synthetic fabrics. Below is a list of different types of fabrics and some basic information for both natural and synthetic fabrics.
Cotton is one of the most commonly used fabrics worldwide. Broadly speaking, two types of cotton are available in the market - natural and synthetic. This blog will highlight the differences between these two types of cotton and their benefits.
Natural cotton is derived from the seeds of the cotton plant. It is a natural fiber that is biodegradable and eco-friendly. Natural cotton is breathable, soft, and comfortable, making it a popular choice for clothing, bedding, and upholstery. Additionally, it is hypoallergenic and less likely to cause irritation or allergic reactions.
Linen - Linen is best suited for formal living rooms or adult areas because it soils and wrinkles easily. And, it won't withstand heavy wear. However, linen does resist pilling and fading. Soiled linen upholstery must be professionally cleaned to avoid shrinkage. Linens are a good option for pillow covers.
Leather - This tough durable material can be gently vacuumed, damp-wiped as needed, and cleaned with leather conditioner or saddle soap. The negative side is that genuine leather is very expensive and can involve harsh chemical treatments.
Cotton - Cotton is one of the most used fibers in history. This natural fiber provides good resistance to wear, fading, and pilling. It is less resistant to soil, wrinkling, and fire. The cotton can be chemically treated or blended with other fibers however, to increase its fire and wrinkle resistance. Durability and use depend on the weave and finish. Damask weaves are formal; canvas(duck and sailcloth) is more casual and more durable.
Wool - Sturdy and durable, wool and wool blends offer good resistance to pilling, fading, wrinkling, and soil. Generally, wool is blended with a synthetic fiber to make it easier to clean and to reduce the possibility of felting the fibers (causing them to bond together until they resemble felt). Blends can be spot-cleaned when necessary.This fiber is hygroscopic, flame resistant and hypoallergenic.
Silk - This delicate fabric is only suitable for adult areas, such as formal living rooms. It must be professionally cleaned if soiled.
Benefits of Natural Fibers
- Moisture-wicking: These properties keep the skin dry and comfortable, making them ideal for activewear, underwear, and socks.
- Temperature-regulating: This capability helps maintain a comfortable body temperature in warm and cool weather.
- High durability: This makes them perfect for long-lasting clothing and textiles, such as mattress for a futon.
- Sustainability: Natural fibers are made of renewable resources that can be grown without harmful pesticides or chemicals, making them more eco-friendly than synthetic fibers.
- Versatility: You can find it in their usage for various applications such as clothing, bedding, upholstery, and carpeting. They can be woven, knitted, or felted into different textures and patterns.
Synthetic cotton, also known as artificial cotton, is a man-made fabric that mimics the properties of natural cotton. It is made of synthetic fibers such as polyester, nylon, or rayon. Synthetic cotton is often used in clothing, bedding, and upholstery as it is cheaper than natural cotton.
Acetate - Developed as imitation silk, acetate can withstand mildew, pilling, and shrinking. However, it offers only fair resistance to soil and tends to wear, wrinkle, and fade in the sun. It's not a good choice for furniture that will get tough everyday use.
Acrylic - This synthetic fiber was developed as imitation wool. It resists wear, wrinkling, soiling, and fading. Low-quality acrylic may pill excessively in areas that receive high degrees of abrasion. High-quality acrylics are manufactured to pill significantly less.
Nylon - Rarely used alone, nylon is usually blended with other fibers to make it one of the strongest upholstery fabrics. Nylon is very resilient; in a blend, it helps eliminate the crushing of napped fabrics such as velvet. It doesn't readily soil or wrinkle, but it does tend to fade and pill.
Olefin - This is a good choice for furniture that will receive heavy wear. It has no pronounced weaknesses.
Polyester - Rarely used alone in upholstery, polyester is blended with other fibers to add wrinkle resistance, eliminate crushing of napped fabrics, and reduce fading. When blended with wool, polyester aggravates pilling problems. Polyester blends are a great choice for futon slipcovers and pillows
Rayon - Developed as an imitation silk, linen, and cotton, rayon is durable. However, it wrinkles. Recent developments have made high-quality rayon very practical.
Vinyl - Easy-care and less expensive than leather, vinyls are ideal for busy family living and dining rooms. Durability depends on quality.
Benefits of Synthetic Fibers
- Stain-resistant: Synthetic fibers like polyester and nylon are highly resistant to stains, making them a good choice for clothing and textiles that are likely to get dirty or stained.
- UV-resistant: This fabric can be treated to resist damage from the sun's UV rays, making them a good choice for outdoor clothing and textiles.
- Affordable: These are often less expensive than natural fibers, making them a more affordable alternative for clothing and textiles.
- Versatile: It can be engineered to have specific properties, such as moisture-wicking, stretch, or insulation, making them suitable for a wide range of applications.
When choosing between natural and synthetic cotton, the decision ultimately comes down to personal preference and the fabric's intended use. For example, traditional Japanese futon may require a more durable and water-resistant material, making synthetic cotton a better choice. On the other hand, natural cotton may be preferred for clothing or bedding for its comfort and hypoallergenic properties.
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