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What are the characteristics of a high quality fabric?

By Jeff Frank

“High quality” is an amorphous term when applied to fabrics. The definition can shift dramatically depending on your priorities.

These priorities can include durability, cleanability, hand (how the fabric feels,) texture (smooth or rough, plain), plain or patterned, single or multi-color, color saturation, etc. etc. etc.

“High quality” is not necessarily related to price. There are very delicate fabrics that have no stain resistance at all but are extremely expensive.

Thousands of fabrics are extremely durable and stain resistant – and also extremely cheap. Most microfibers fall into this category as one example.

The durability and stain resistance of a particular material is not directly related to the fiber content or weave.

100% polyester fabrics can be very durable (100,000+ double rubs on the Wyzenbeek Abrasion test scale) or they can test at 12,000 double rubs.

100,000 double rubs is considered heavy duty for commercial use.

12,000 double rubs is rated as “light duty” for residential use.

Wholesale pricing for 100% polyester fabrics can range anywhere from $10/yd. to $50+/yd.*

Pricing does not directly correspond to the durability or abrasion test ratings.

Highly stain resistant 100% Olefin fabrics can also be rated anywhere from 15,000 – 100,000 double rubs. They can also be found at wholesale pricing ranging from $15/yd. to $50+/yd.*

Cotton, linen, wool, silk, acrylics, rayons, viscose, nylon and many more types of natural and synthetic fibers can all be used by themselves or blended with one or more different fiber types.

Determining the “quality,” durability, cleanability or cost of a fabric from the fiber content alone is impossible.

Different fabric weave constructions can also directly affect the look, feel, durability and cost of a material. Here is an article describing 20 of the most popular weaves

Each of these constructions has a wide range of variations based on the type(s) of fiber(s) used, fiber density, pattern complexity and dozens of other objective and subjective factors.

High performance fabrics are quickly gaining popularity.

High performance fabrics are usually (but not always) rated heavy duty for durability and also have built-in permanent stain resistance.

There are currently over a dozen different high performance technologies, using different types of fibers, weaves and other variables.

Some of the most popular of the high performance technologies are:

Crypton (Polyesters and polyester blends)

Sunbrella (Acrylics)

Revolution and Bella-Dura (Olefins)

LiveSmart (Polyester blends)

“High performance” fabrics are available in a wide range of wholesale prices ranging from $15 – $50+ per yard.*

*Wholesale fabric prices are generally around half of retail pricing for fabrics that are still in current production by the mills.

Large fabric retailers and furniture manufacturers usually purchase their fabrics at less than half of the published wholesale cost.

Thousands of discontinued fabrics are always available to the general public through discount fabric retailers (both online and off) at below wholesale prices.

For more information about discounted fabrics see Are 90% off Online Fabric Sales Really A Good Deal?

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