A Guide to Fabric Types

Bespoke soft furnishings, such as curtains, cushions, bedspreads etc are great for adding a personalised finishing touch to a space.


There are many different fabric types on the market, each with their pros and cons. Although we prefer to specify natural fibres where possible, there are advantages to man-made fibres in some settings. Due to fire safety regulations in the UK, fabrics which are composed of less than 75% natural fibres need to be fire treated if used for upholstery.


Linen is a great look for informal rooms giving a soft, cool, laid back vibe. Environmentally friendly and durable, linen curtains are a good choice for a relaxed and casual look. The cons of linen it can be prone to shrinkage when washed, or stretching when steamed / ironed and is often costlier than cotton. It is important to note that some linens, particularly thinner ones, naturally have a light ‘creased’ look. Interlining linen curtains may help to reduce creases but won’t eliminate them. Our advice is to only go for linen if you are comfortable with the naturally occurring creasing, which we love and think adds character!

Unlined Linen Curtains at our Field House Project


Cotton is a lovely natural material with an ‘airy’ feel. Works very well as curtains and for soft furnishing, and even for upholstery as long as the rub-count is over 20,000. Available in lots of styles, prints and colours - it’s a versatile choice for any creative ideas in mind. Can be a budget friendly option, although the price can vary depending on the manufacturer.

Lined Cotton Curtains at our Cornforth House Project


Silk looks luxurious and romantic but bear in mind that it is high maintenance, delicate and often pricey. Silk is susceptible to fading in sunlight over time and are usually dry clean only, it should always be interlined. Faux silk is a good alternative as it is more durable and can often be washed in your washing machine.


Being a heavyweight material, the thick dense fibres have fantastic insulating properties so velvet curtains will help keep your room toasty and warm. However, velvet is prone to accumulating dust so expect to give it a regular clean. Velvet is also the perfect choice for cushions, headboards and upholstery. It is available in cotton velvet (100% natural), mixed fibres, or even 100% polyester (which is often what you find in easy-clean velvet ranges).

Velvet Cushions at our Orangerie Project


Wool is a fantastically warm and insulating natural fabric, great as curtains for colder homes or for other soft furnishings or upholstery. Great for a snug, it has a traditional feel and wool is soft and luxurious to touch. However, it does of course require dry cleaning and is susceptible to fading in the sunlight and can attract moths.


Voile is a French word that translates in English as ‘veil’. A lightweight, sheer fabric, Voile can be used for curtains and blinds when you want lots of light to penetrate through and is often used in informal rooms, or as an extra layer of privacy alongside thicker curtains. Voile fabrics come in a variety of price ranges depending on the composition (natural fibres, mixed fibres or synthetic). It is not suitable for other soft furnishings such as furniture upholstery or cushions.


Synthetic materials are commonly used due to their practical and durable nature. A comparatively cheap option so good for those on a budget and for high volume traffic areas as most types of synthetics are machine washable. Man-made fibres can make a fabric more hard-wearing, resistant to shrinking and fading in the sun, and also helpfully they tend not to crease as easily as natural fibres. However, these materials do sometimes have a shiny finish to them which isn’t to some people’s taste and man-made fibres do not stitch or hand as well as others, creating occasional puckering along seams or not folding into pleats as nicely. Polyester and Acrylic are the two most commonly used man-made fibres.

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