I love the narrative style of toile de Jouy fabrics, but Id like to find ones in unconventional colours. Any ideas?
Always daring with colour, Manuel Canovas puts a fresh twist on traditional toiles, mixing red with aubergine or hot pink with orange in Thorigny, £82m, and Balleroy (shown as curtains) and Bengale (shown as chair covers), both £70m. Amilie in Etienne, £38m, at Harlequin, and Nirvana Shadow, £134m, at Lee Jofa are two toiles that team shocking pink with white. Equally vibrant is Toile St Cloud in Cerise and Apricot or Turquoise and Lime, £113.40m, at Turnell & Gigon. Similar hues feature in Paradise Garden, £222m, by Quadrille at Tissus dHélène.
I want to cover a chair in union jack fabric for my son?s bedroom, but haven?t been able to find one. Can you help?
Emily Bond has a printed linen called Union Jack, 140cm wide, which costs £48m. Modelli Fabrics can supply upholstery weight chenille in two colourways: Britannia 1948, celebrating the previous British Olympics, is a faded sepia, and Britannia 2012 (pictured), salutes last year?s Olympics with a flag in bright red and blue. The fabric is woven with two flag images, placed side by side across the width of the cloth as it?s popular for cushion covers. Between each pair and the next pair below is a woven dotted line, which can be pulled out when the fabric is used for upholstery. There are approximately four flags to a metre and the fabric costs around £36m. I?m forwarding cuttings. I also looked into the possibility of using real flags for upholstery, but most are currently made in knitted polyester. One flag supplier, Banner Box can custom-print a Union Jack or a sequence of them in a size specified by the client, on to heavy canvas 2m wide, for £80m.
I?m not a fan of gathered headings but these curtains in H&G?s February designer secrets feature don?t appear to be pleated or gathered on tape. How is this done?
The curtains in the room pictured, designed by Samantha Todhunter, appear to have an inverted pleat heading. The heading ripples when the curtain is at the side of the window because pleats sewn into buckram at the back of the curtain allow the spaces between the pleats to come forward and make these soft folds. As you?re not fond of classic headings you may be disappointed to find this curtain heading flattens when drawn across the window. A simpler way to get the effect you are looking for is to sew the curtain rings directly to the curtain heading. This will give soft forward pleats that will merely stretch out as the curtain is drawn across. The main disadvantage is that you will have to unpick the rings any time the curtains need to be taken down. On the other hand, this method uses fabric economically; you?ll need no more than twice the width of the window.
I have a pair of original Thonet chairs that have been covered in velveteen, but it doesn?t suit them. Who could recover them and in what material?
Until I saw your picture, I anticipated your chairs would be bentwood, for which Thonet is best known. But since the late 1920s it has also made chairs in chrome-plated tubular steel including designs by luminaries including Marcel Breuer, Mart Stam and Mies van der Rohe. Your chair looks similar to the Marcel Breuer model B33, though copyright for this was eventually transferred to Mart Stam. It is available to order as the S33 (pictured) from Crest. Two of the materials originally used to cover the chairs were leather and eisengarn. The latter – a textile made from twisted cotton yarn treated with paraffin – is still made by Tecta, which names it Iron Yarn, but leather is the obvious authentic option for your chairs. Try Bruce Upholstery; Anne Bruce is known for her expertise in the re-upholstery of iconic 20th-century and contemporary chairs. She could also investigate the possibility of acquiring eisengarn.
I have an antique chair covered in a patterned fabric that I believe is called moquette. where can I find a similar fabric?
Many people will recognise moquette as the fabric used on train and bus seats, and Holdsworth, in Yorkshire, which has been weaving it since the 1830s, now supplies bus, train and coach companies worldwide. It will also accept small orders for any of its stock designs, of which there are hundreds, at £21.54m. Today?s moquettes are woven in 85 per cent wool and come as cut pile, loop pile or cut and loop. You can explore the designs on the website but, judging from the picture you sent me, I don?t think you will find one that resembles it. I would describe your chair fabric as a cut-and-loop velvet épinglé – a weave that is similar to moquette but designed for interiors. The nearest design and colourway I have found is Monte Cristo in Cream PET 15425-2, a cut épinglé velour at £422.60m. It is by Edmond Petit at Turnell & Gigon. Also take a look at Isla in Teal F0169-01, a cut velvet priced at £378m, and the tapestry Carrouges in Autumn F0247-01 (pictured), £176m, both from Watts. Another similar weave is Acanthus Tapestry, which comes in three colourways, £78m from Sanderson.
Our farmhouse living room has thick walls and a massive fireplace. We have blue sofas with blue and red kilims on the black slate floor. I?ve always liked curtains in blue and white ticking. Are stripes a good choice for a room like this?
There is no reason why a striped fabric won?t look good, but choose one with texture to measure up to the robust character of your room. Try a combination of blue with a natural tone rather than white, which could appear lightweight here. I?m sending you cuttings of four fabrics. St Just in Navy has the look of ticking with a strand of white in the design, but with a rich surface texture from the jute in the weave. By William Yeoward at Designers Guild, it costs £71m. Element Stripe and Mistral Stripe (pictured), both in Indigo, £89m from Threads at GP&J Baker, have wonderful texture and, with their blend of linen and bamboo, drape well. A lighter-weight linen cloth is Grain Stripe Nordic in Indigo, £39.50m at Ian Mankin. All the curtains mentioned here should hang full length and look substantial, so consider a light interlining.
Is it a good idea to interline Roman blinds or is lining sufficient?
The standard way to make Roman blinds is with a lining only, but if you prefer interlined curtains, then you?ll almost certainly prefer interlined Roman blinds. Good soft furnishing workrooms interline all their Roman blinds except for those hung in situations such as a bathroom, where humidity might cause differential shrinkage between the face fabric and interlining. For most fabrics a light 160g interlining is used, unless the blind is in a fine silk, when the 250g curtain-grade interlining may be chosen. Interlining supports the face fabric and gives substance to the folds.
In a past issue of H&G, I noticed sofas that featured a cushion shaped a bit like a pillow but longer and more narrow. Where can I buy cushion pads in this shape?
King-size pillows make good up-scaled cushions for large sofas. At John Lewis these measure 90x48cm and cost £45 in goose feather and down filling, and £30 if made in microfibre. For custom-made cushions in any size or shape, including replacement box cushions for sofas plus window-seat and bolster cushions, try The Feather Company, which offers five grades of feather filling. A long cushion in a shape similar to that pictured, measuring 43-48x90cm and filled with duck feather, costs around £45.
Can you suggest a throw in a muted neutral to add texture to a bedroom in our country-style house?
The White Company is known for its textural throws, many with matching cushions. The Cliveden cable-knit wool throw, £120, and cushion cover, from £45, is one range. The Wool Company has lambswool knitted throws at £69, and chunky Aran knit throws at £49 and £108. Luma, 020 8746 3740, lumadirect.com, also offers knitted throws: Penwith in lambswool, £95; and Clovelly, £77.50, and St Ives, £69.50, both in cotton. The Waffle throw in lambswool (pictured), £127, from Occa-Home, also has a pleasing texture in a muted shade.
Do you know whose fabric is covering the sofa seen on the cover of the January 2012 issue of Homes & Gardens?
The house with the sofa fabric you like is in Sydney, and the owners sourced their sofas
in the US, so I?ve looked for alternatives closer to home. The upholstery appears to be either ribbed velvet or corduroy and one weave that is almost identical is Gemini in 06 or possibly 08 (pictured, both £97m, by Sheila Coombes at Brian Yates. In addition to these, you?ll find similar soft neutrals in classic Corduroy, £74.40m, at Lewis & Wood, and, with a wider rib, Cavalier corduroy, £24m, from Warwick. I?m sending you cuttings.
I am looking for a pattern for lattice-smocked cushion covers. Can you please help?
There are no patterns currently available in the UK but I am told the technique is explored in the book Smocking: Traditional & Modern Approaches by Oenone Cave and Jean Hodges, published by Batsford. It is now out of print but there appear to be copies available on Amazon. As the technique is popular in the US and Canada, there are a number of websites describing how it is done. I have printed out for you a tutorial from marvelousdesigner.com and hope this will give you some guidance. Your interest in this technique coincides with the appearance of lattice-smocked cushions in a number of shops. If you decide to buy instead of make, you will find the Velvet Pleat cushion, £35 each, at John Lewis;the Nitin Goyal Origami velvet cushion (in Berry Pink, pictured), £45, at Heal?s; and the Baylis Pleated cushion, £30, at Laura Ashley
I’m looking for curtain fabric for my living room but haven?t been able to find a pattern that combines dusky pink and warm grey. I?m thinking of an all-over design such as paisley or ikat. Can you help?
Elanbach prints furnishing fabrics digitally and, besides offering some designs in pink and grey colourways, it can also print all motifs in the customer?s own colour combinations for a modest additional fee. You will find details of how the service operates on the Elanbach website. I?m sending you cuttings of Kerala, Chennai and Cochin, all in Pink/Grey, which cost £31.66m on cotton sateen and £41.87m on natural linen. I am also enclosing a cutting of Bukhara in Tea Rose (pictured) on linen. The colours aren?t quite pink and grey, but I think you?ll like its mood. It costs £76.80m from Lewis & Wood
I need to replace some upholstery and cushions in our conservatory. Is there a fabric that?s fade proof?
Polypropylene and acrylic fabrics fade less than those in natural fibres. Look at the Zancudo collection, £50m (Plain) or £55m, from Osborne & Little (pictured ? stool in Pelada; chair cushion in Baru; sides of ottoman in Talamanca; top of ottoman in Plain). You could also try Atmosphere, from £80m, Beacon Hill; Perennials, from £100m, Robert Spurway; and outdoor ranges by Schumacher, Decortex and Clarence House, from £70m, at Turnell & Gigon. All are synthetic fabrics designed for use on garden furniture so don?t comply with UK standards for fire retardancy for use on interior furniture. If you decide to use any of them, they must be treated to be cigarette and match resistant and used with a Crib 5 barrier cloth interliner. A company that treats fabrics for fire retardancy is Tek Treatments. Or sidestep the fading issue altogether and use a washable white linen or cotton.
My bedroom needs colour. The curtains, headboard and bedlinen are in cream and the carpet is mushroom. I plan to upholster a chair for the room, which is where the colour could be introduced.
Cream doesn?t quarrel with positive colour, so go for what instinctively appeals. To link it with your scheme, you could cover the chair in a stripe of cream and your chosen colour. Somerley Stripe, £49m, by Baker Lifestyle, blends neutral stripes with ones in Blue (pictured), Red or Aqua. Also look at Monari Stripes, £59.50m by Romo, and the Manton collection: Aysgarth in Poppy, £37m, and Penhaggon in Navy, £49m, at William Yeoward. Stripes from the Chiko and Zaika ranges, both from £29m, by Malabar, mix brights with cream. Add bright cushions for the bed in the same colour as one of the upholstery stripes. John Lewis, has silk cushions in 15 plain colours at £20 each. Colour can also come from accessories: statement lighting or pictures.
I’d like to cover the walls of a room in silk. Can you point me in the right direction?
This specialist job is best done by an upholsterer. The Association of Master Upholsterers & Soft Furnishers tells me that David Greenwood at Swankies Upholstery is a member near you who does this, so you might want to contact him. The technique involves battening the walls, applying soft padding called bump to support the fabric, seaming the fabric widths to size, tacking them to the battens
to keep the fabric taut, and finishing the edges with piping or trimming.
I?d like to make a bed throw similar to one made by a friend in leopard or ocelot velvet. Can you help me find one like it that isn?t too heavy and definitely isn?t a faux fur?
As soon as animal prints prowl the catwalk, they resurface in the world of interior decorating. In fact, they have never really gone away. The following printed cotton velvets are soft enough for your throw to drape nicely: Ocelot BF10159/290 (pictured), £80m, and Leopard BF10160/295,
£89m, both by GP&J Baker; Leopard 5893/1, £120m, by Marvic Textiles; Vreeland Putty Z175/01, £114m, by Zinc; and Big Cat in Ember, £29.30m, by Robert Allen. These fabrics also classify for upholstery; one that doesn?t but folds supremely softly is Sheer Leopard 9066 in Espresso, a devoré velvet priced at £179m from Kravet London
I have two sofas from Laura Ashley?s Winchester range for which the company has stopped making loose covers. Is there any other make of covers that would fit?
Lyn-Plan supplies loose covers to fit sofas and chairs from a number of furniture companies, including Laura Ashley, and covers can still be supplied for seating in the Winchester range. Choose fabric from its large selection or you can supply your own fabric once a sample has been checked for suitability and pattern repeat implications. Covers for a Winchester sofa using one of Lyn-Plan?s own fabrics start at around £495 for a two-seater. You could, of course, have loose covers made to measure by a local soft furnishings specialist. Find one at the Association of Master Upholsterers & Soft Furnishers.
The sofa in our country kitchen, which our dog often sits on, badly needs to be re-upholstered. I love black and white checks or stripes.
In a country kitchen, avoid anything too formal and, as the dog shares the sofa, aim for more black than white in the weave, unless you have a white-haired breed. Try Romo for Melbury in Ebony 7221/45 and Elmore in Ebony 7460/45, £25m each; or Moro in Charcoal 7435/04, £71.50m. Also look at Glen Shee GT117, a tiny dogtooth wool check, around £50m, by The Isle Mill. A mix of black, white with neutral, or a touch of colour may be more practical so also try Chelsea Check LW3914 in Oxford, £43.20m, by Lewis & Wood; Toile Carreaux 6138 in Noir 12, £36m, by Marvic Textiles; and Flint Check LF1096/001 (pictured), £53.90m, by Linwood. Some of these fabrics may be a bit lightweight for upholstery. A loose cover might be better, but either way, armcaps will be essential.
I have two Chesterfield sofas, upholstered 35 years ago in Dralon, which need recovering. What velvets should I use?
I discussed your letter with John Kitching at Northcroft Fabrics, who has a long experience of commissioning upholstery velvets. The fabrics mentioned here are all from this company. Dralon velvet is an acrylic pile cloth and the nearest equivalent now would be a modacrylic velvet such as Henley, £60m. It reaches 70,000 rubs on the Martindale abrasion test, which rates it for severe contract use, and it can be sponged clean. Marlow mohair velvet, which has a 50,000 rating, putting it in the same category as Henley, is a natural fibre and crush resistant, but it is around £180m. Rochelle, at £46m, is a cotton velvet with a 40,000 rating, which still puts it in the contract classification, and it has the appeal of being a natural fibre.
Where can I buy 12 dining chairs covered in fabric of my own choosing? I’d liketo use different fabrics for the seats and the backs, and can spend up to £250 for each chair, plus fabric.
The Henriksdal chair, from £59, at Ikea, offers achoice of colours for the legs and seat. The seat covers are removable and the chair is well within your price limit, so a soft furnisher could take one coveras a template and make new covers. John Lewis stocks the Lydia dining chair in six colours at £99 each, if you want a mix ofplains. At Oka, the Echo dining chair costs from £159 in cream cotton, with slip covers, which could be personalised, from £39. My first suggestion, though, would be The Dormy House. Its upholstered dining chair (above), from £155, has a backin four different heights and can be covered in your choice of fabric with different designs on the seat and back.
Our kitchen has a cream Aga and terracotta tiled floor. We’re painting walls in Parma Gray by Farrow & Ball and are looking for a matching fabric for blinds.
Pencarrow linen NCF4043-02, from Osborne & Little, will match Parma Gray perfectly. If you prefer a pattern, look at Cabane Rose Ciel on white, £47.50m, from Brocante Fabrics; Woodperry 001 Blue, £156m, by Veere Grenney; and Beauvais Bleu Celeste, £58m, by Nicole Fabre Designs, to link with the tiles.
I’m going to buy some new linen sheets and duvet covers and my mother insists that they should be Irish linen. Is this still regarded as the best?
Irish linen has a long heritage but flax, from which linen yarn is made, has not been grown in Ireland for more than 50 years. To earn the right to be labelled Irish linen, fabric now only has to be woven in Ireland from 100 per cent linen yarn. There are very few linen weavers in Ireland now, and those who do weave it produce mostly table linen, handkerchiefs and tea towels. Only one company weaves bedlinen as well and that is Thomas Ferguson Irish Linen, based in Banbridge, County Down. The linen yarn it uses comes from northern Europe, the premier growing area for flax, and that is still an assurance of quality. You can buy its pure linen bedlinen online (pillowcases, from £46.92; sheets, from £119.85; and duvet covers, from £217.26) or from stockists such as Purple & Fine Linen.
I removed a stain from a sofa seat cushion but it’s now a noticeably different beige from the others. Could the cover be professionally re-dyed? The fabric is cotton.
Unfortunately, spot-cleaning always carries this risk, as does re-dyeing. I consulted Malcolm Berger at Harry Berger Specialist Cleaners and Dyers, who believes the product you used to remove the stain also stripped some colour from the fabric. He adds that it is impossible to predict how the colour would level off with its surroundings when dyed, and that getting a perfect match with the other covers could not be guaranteed. Ask the sofa company if the fabric is still available and, if so, have a new cushion cover made up in it. Otherwise, could you simply turn the cushion over?
I’m looking for a toile de Jouy in a yellow or soft grey for a bedroom scheme based around an antique Provençal quilt in these colours.
There are various toiles that combine yellow and grey in their designs. Marvic, offers Les Amours 5330/005, £36.50m. The Hunting Toile, £74m, is by Brunschwig & Fils. And Fleury Crocus 04706/02, £59m, is from Manuel Canovas at Colefax and Fowler. You can also find toiles in yellow or grey at Nicole Fabre Designs; Pierre Frey; and Sheila Coombes at Brian Yates.
I have a small French dressing table chair, which I’d like to upholster in black silk. Is there such a thing as upholstery-grade silk?
Yes, but there are not many ranges of upholstery silks that include black; Veraseta 3800 Deco-Silk 09, 100 per cent silk, 150cm wide, by Turnell & Gigon, and Faille Antoinette 9 in Black, 100 per cent silk, 150cm wide, by Tissus d’Hélène. Clifford BF10036-990 from GP & J Baker, is a silk/linen blend recommended for light domestic upholstery. These fabrics are quite matt but for a fabric with a silk-like sheen, you might like Luxury 10255-999, 140cm wide, which is a gleaming satin with a high wear specification but contains no silk, from Zimmer & Rohde.
As 1970s designs are fashionable again, I am looking for some kilim-patterned fabric to use in the living room of my converted barn. Do you know where I could find such styles?
Saltillo 89569, Kayenta 89570 and Anasazi 89571, are gorgeous fabrics available from Brunschwig & Fils, woven in wool in heathery colours. Nobilis, has two kilim stripe collections, woven in cotton/viscose/linen, in six designs across 15 colourways. Then there is Carpet Bag, a Homes & Gardens Fabric Awards winner. This soft yet heavy cotton/viscose/linen weave would look wonderful as long curtains in a barn conversion, or covering a sofa. It comes in six colourways from Mulberry Home.
Recently I bought a new chair in antiqued leather for a small corner of the kitchen and was told the leather would improve with age. Do you know any tricks of the trade for making this happen more quickly?
Nick Loxton at Leather Chairs of Bath, whose compact Amsterdam chair is often chosen for kitchens, is sometimes asked this question. He warns that some people are keener on the idea of aged leather than on the reality of scars and scuff marks but, as long as your new chair has a robust frame, he recommends allowing dogs and children to clamber over it and not to worry if bracelets snag the leather or wine is splashed on it. His best trick for ageing antiqued leather is to put the furniture in the garden on sunny days. Watch out for rain, although the odd water drop would add more character.
I enjoy mixing old and new and, even though our house is Georgian, I’d like contemporary fabrics in bright turquoise to upholster nine antique family chairs for our drawing room, including a chaise and two large wing chairs.
I would mix two or three different fabrics over so many pieces, but take care as well that so much undiluted vibrant colour isn’t too poweful for one room or, in the long term, for you. One approach would be to begin with a statement design; it could be an historic pattern reinterpreted for today, complemented by plains and semi-plains.
I would like to cover a chesterfield and armchair in a neutral fabric in stone, taupe, dove grey, cream, charcoal or beige. Our style is pared down.
These colours appear in many upholstery fabric collections, so I imagine you’d like something extra special. Superlative textured linens in the shades you like are woven by de Le Cuona. You might also like linens by Marvic Textiles, Marvic Textiles and GP & J Baker.
I’m hoping to find fabric for curtains in natural linen with a design printed in white. Do you have any suggestions?
Zoffany, gives simple botanical motifs a contemporary twist by printing them in white on a soft but highly textured unbleached cloth; look for Botanique in Linen/Ecru. Equally striking is Woodlander F1861-01, by Osborne & Little, with an over-sized white leaf printed on scoured linen. Clockwise from above, far left, San Marco 1496-01 in Nacre, by Manuel Canovas at Colefax and Fowler, is a painterly white print; Kemsley in Natural, by Ramm, Son & Crocker; and Ashbrook J437F-01 in Natural, by Jane Churchill at Colefax and Fowler, are both pretty florals in white.
I would like to cover a pair of drawing room chairs with a classic Regency striped fabric, but I can’t seem to find anything suitable. The fabric could be a self-coloured blue stripe, gold with blue, or even black and gold. Are there any companies that sell these designs?
Regency stripes had their moment in the 1950s, then travelled so far downmarket they almost disappeared from pattern books. Not so for the elegant Misa Moiré collection of stripes in linen/viscose that have been in continuous production since the 1940s.
I’m looking for a striped linen in muted gold, a golden neutral or dusky pink to cover sofas and chairs. Because I have cats, I feel that linen is my only option to avoid the material being clawed.
As I haven’t found your perfect colour combination in 100 per cent linen, the nearest to a dusky pink stripe is Drill Lines 3129-09. It’s 84 per cent linen and priced from Brian Yates. The best fabric in the muted gold/golden neutral palette is Beach 21047-184, which is 55 per cent linen, 45 per cent cotton, by Hodsoll McKenzie at Zimmer & Rohde. However, I doubt that linen will deter your cats. I have never found an entirely cat-proof fabric and anything woven will satisfy a claw. You might consider a neutral faux suede such as Belmont U1757-230 Beige, a non-woven fabric with nothing for claws to grip. It’s very hard-wearing, by Parkertex. The fabric is plain, but you could have striped cushions.
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