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How to Shop for Upholstery Fabric: A FabCouture's Guide

  • By FabCouture
  • •  Mar 20, 2023

If you enjoy browsing through fabric swatches or bolts of fabric in stores, then this article is for you. Whether you're a beginner in upholstery or searching for fabric for curtains, blinds, or homewares, there are thousands of different types and styles of upholstery fabric available. To help you find the right fabric for your project, this article explores what you need to know when choosing upholstery fabric, including expert tips and advice.

Upholstery fabric isn't just used for traditional upholstery - it's also used for making curtains, blinds, and other soft furnishings. The craft of upholstery has a rich history that dates back to the Middle Ages when artisans made fabric furnishings. It gained popularity in the 18th century when the wealthy demanded comfort in their home furnishings, and now it's on the rise again as people spend more time at home during as well as after the pandemic.

The article covers a range of topics, including what to look for when buying upholstery and curtain fabric, different types of upholstery fabric, and where to buy upholstery fabric. It also includes tips on how to find affordable options without compromising on quality.

What constitutes upholstery fabric?

Upholstery fabric refers to fabrics or textiles used to cover furniture or make soft furnishings such as curtains and blinds. It can be made from woven or knitted threads using various fibers such as cotton, linen, polyester, velvet, polypropylene, and rayon, among others. It can be seen that for those seeking to select fabrics, the vast array of multipurpose options can be overwhelming. However, with some tips, one can choose the upholstery fabric type for their project. 

We advise that synthetic fabrics are durable, cost-effective, and can withstand stains, but they require caution when ironing. Although upholstery fabrics are typically used for covering furniture, the article highlights the thriving industry where they are used to create various homewares, including seat cushions, footstools, curtains, and blinds. The article provides tips on how to select upholstery fabrics based on the intended use of the fabric and where to purchase them.

What to consider when purchasing upholstery and curtain fabric?

Picking the right fabric can be a difficult task, as it relies on several factors. It's not unusual for individuals to take a long time to decide due to the overwhelming variety of fabrics. For example, one piece took a considerable amount of time to choose. A particular item, created from a vintage tablecloth discovered at a local marketplace, holds sentimental value because of its unique design and colors.

Fortunately, we've compiled a few factors to consider when purchasing fabric. It's always preferable to conduct thorough research before making a decision because once you've chosen, you'll likely have the fabric for years to come.

Fabric weight and durability

To choose the right fabric, consider your intended use and how hard-wearing the fabric needs to be. For upholstered furniture in high-traffic areas, look for tightly woven, durable fabrics with a high thread count and a Martindale value of at least 25,000. For curtains and blinds, heavier-weight fabrics with lining are ideal for a better drape and finished look. 

When shopping for upholstery fabrics, check the Martindale value and test the weave by holding and pulling a sample tightly in both directions. Choosing the right fabric is important as you will likely live with it for years. It’s always recommended to avoid those upholstery fabrics with a Martindale value below 25,000 as they may lack structural integrity and be challenging to work with.

Print or pattern

The style of your project will be affected by the pattern, but for larger projects like curtains or blinds, pattern matching is also important to consider. A large repeating print may require purchasing extra fabric to accommodate the pattern repeat when making wider curtains or blinds.

Stain resistance

Different homes have varying levels of risk for spills and stains. To protect furniture from young children's play, it's advisable to choose an upholstery fabric that is easy to clean, such as synthetic blends like microfiber. For multipurpose fabrics that are not stain-proof, an upholstery protector spray can be applied to prevent stains. Alternatively, busy prints can help to camouflage any stains that may occur. When selecting home furnishing options, it's important to consider future risks, such as living with a toddler while wanting cream linen.


Upholstery fabrics are available at various price points, with some starting as low as Rs. 395/meter. The project you are working on will determine the amount you need to spend, with traditional furniture upholstery requiring higher quality material. However, affordable options are available if you're on a tight budget and looking for simple home furnishing fabrics that don't need to be highly durable. Check out FabCouture's Multifabric category to explore a fantastic selection of high-quality upholstery fabrics to enhance your home decor.


Research the fabric's qualities for dust-repelling capabilities, especially if you or someone you live with has dust allergies. Short-fibered materials are less likely to attract dust and pet hairs. Natural fabrics are best known for their hypoallergenic qualities and include cotton, linen, and silk, and are often bought for this quality. 


In conclusion, choosing the right upholstery fabric for your project is essential to achieve the desired look and durability. Natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, and wool offer a range of textures and colors and are suitable for most projects, while synthetic blends like microfiber are durable and stain-resistant, making them a practical choice for homes with young children or pets. It's also essential to consider factors such as fire regulations, allergies, and pattern matching. 

There is a wide range of upholstery fabrics available at various price points, including many affordable options on FabCouture that don't compromise on quality. By considering the factors mentioned above, you can select the ideal upholstery fabric for your project, and craft beautiful and functional furniture that will endure the test of time.

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