When looking or outdoor fabric, do not be fooled by the label. Not all “outdoor” fabrics are truly suitable for outdoor use. Choosing the right outdoor fabric- Part III of VIII in our outdoor living series.
Two cornerstones of any design project are the selecting the right fabric, and choosing a highly skilled fabric artist or seamstress who is knowledgeable in high-end sewing techniques, and which techniques apply to the current project.
Choosing the right outdoor fabric
I like to begin these blogs with a “what not to do,” since the tuition at the school of hard knocks can be rather expensive. I began my career in apparel. Anytime we needed fabric, we made a trip to the ‘big box fabric store.’
The first time I attempted outdoor furnishings, I started the same way. Without any thought, I headed to the ‘big box fabric store’ to make my first selection of outdoor fabric. The outdoor fabric I chose was on trend, with several nice details going in as well. I designed and made a beautiful outdoor cushion and loads of throw pillows with designer details that made you just want to throw yourself into the cushion on a sunny afternoon with a good book. Lots of time went into this effort, but it was worth it and it turned out beautiful! I proudly displayed it on our front porch and was rather surprised at the requests I received from people wanting to buy it.
Sadly, I could never sell it, when after two months the fabric was already starting to fade. Needless to say, it was disappointing after all that work.
I learned from that experience, and from professional training at the Custom Home Furnishings Academy in Charlotte, North Carolina in outdoor décor.
When choosing outdoor fabric, you need to ensure your selection is truly a solution dyed acrylic. What is the quickest way to tell? Think of the difference between a radish and a carrot: that is, the dye goes all the way through. Solution dyed acrylic is not merely stamped on top, it’s a “carrot”.
What are our favorite Outdoor fabrics?
We have designed, fabricated and sewn with so many different fabrics over the years that we have developed our favorites. Our list includes Sunbrella, Outdura and Scalamadre indoor/outdoor. These fabrics can carry a higher price point. However, given the description above, considering the amount of dye alone, the cost in producing a truly outdoor fabric can be significantly higher. But more importantly, the value of a quality fabric is multiplied in outdoor applications. A few dollars difference in fabric price can mean the difference between months and years of useful product life.
How long can a quality Outdoor Fabric be expected to last?
This is a good question to ask. The answer is, longer than 15-20 years with good care. Many of the cushions we have made are still in existence some 15 years later. When they are compared to a remnant of the fabric that has not been exposed to the harsh elements, the color has remained the same. This however, is a cushion and other outdoor décor created by a professional who knows the correct way to construct the cushions to get the most wear. The professional will also know what are the correct materials to use in constructing the cushions, along with the right machines as well.
An important factor to remember is to always follow the manufacturers recommendation in caring for your fabric.
What is our Blog next week? Join us as we discuss our newest designs and patterns for Outdoor Draperies that can withstand strong wind conditions. This will be a fun week in our sewing studio as we draft these patterns.