The senses help a person to know the world. Perceptions obtained through the senses provide us with the necessary information, evoke important emotions and often influence our decision-making in important and less important situations. How do they participate in the choice of upholstery fabric? How can they help in choosing the right cover for our sofa?
The first sense that enters the decision-making process is undoubtedly sight. Thanks to this sense, we distinguish color shades, patterns, perceive the structure and surface of the material. How the upholstery fabric looks, what impression it makes on us, helps us make the first division of fabrics into those we like and those we don't like. However, although sight allows us to choose a fabric according to our taste, it also reveals more important parameters of the fabric.
Does the fabric have a smooth or textured surface , does it have a low or high pile, is it densely woven or sparse? The answers to such questions can significantly help us in choosing the right one for our purposes. A smooth surface is easier to clean than a textured one, higher pile can collect more dust and is more prone to lint formation, pet claws get caught more easily in a "thin" fabric, etc. We can also detect possible defects with our eyes. For example, isn't the substance examined somewhere? It could mean that it is not colorfast enough.
We get to know more deeply what the surface of the fabric is like thanks to another sense, which is touch. Try to close your eyes and run your fingertips over different fabrics. Feel them. You will find that each has its own typical structure, which provides not only a visual, but also a tactile sensation. Is the material pleasant to the touch or rough? Does it cool or heat? Is the fabric thin and I can easily grip it in my palm, or is it so strong that it seems to break when bent? These are again questions that can determine the suitability of the material for upholstering the object.
By touch, we find out whether the material is pleasant, cool or warm, firm or flexible...
Formability tells about the possibilities of working with the material. It is easier to upholster more complex, structured pieces of furniture from a thinner, more malleable fabric than from a stronger fabric. They are stronger and more resistant to tearing. Warmth and coolness depend on the amount of air that is retained in the surface structure of the fibers and between the fibers, and are taken into account especially when choosing a textile for clothing, but they are also of considerable importance for fabrics for sofas, since we sit on cover textiles in the summer. as well as in winter. By creasing the fabric, we can also determine its elasticity. When we release it from the grip and it immediately spreads out, or returns to its original position, then it is very flexible. And a certain degree of elasticity is necessary for the seat fabric if it is to fit the shape of the seat well in the long term.
In combination with sight, we can at the same time find out by touch whether there are traces of touch left on the fabric (if it is possible to write on the fabric, as it were). Touch marks are caused by the fact that the tiny fibers (hairs) on the surface of the fabric sag under the pressure of the touch or turn to a different side than the other hairs. As a result, the material looks different at the point of contact. If someone who likes a perfect appearance buys such a fabric, he will tend to constantly smooth it so that the marks after being touched are not visible.
Touch marks can be distracting to someone...
The sense of smell is no less important than the sense of sight or touch. Some fibers are characterized by certain smells or odors. Have you ever smelled wet sheep's wool? Or did you smell hemp or coarse linen fabric? You must have noticed that their smell is not neutral. Do you know that the authenticity of some fibers can be tested by smell? The fiber is tested by burning - after the fiber is ignited and extinguished, sniffing the smoldering fiber determines what it comes from. Unfortunately, we can't help you with any similar tests for upholstery fabrics (such tests in a fabric or sofa store could be really expensive). However, what the sense of smell can help us with is finding out if the substance smells "musty" , which can be a sign of the substance being stored in bad conditions. And if the fabric was stored in a humid and polluted environment, it can already have damaged fibers and be harmful to health.
The method of storage can affect the quality of the fabric - a humid environment leads to mustiness and mold, the impact of light on the examined areas (image source: techieblogie.info)
You also need to be careful of "suspicious" chemical smells (often, for example, the individual layers of the fabric are connected with glue, or a latex coating is used on the back of the fabric, which results in the fabric having a specific smell). Any unsuitable substance with which the fabric has been impregnated can cause allergic reactions in contact with the skin. This is why it is especially important to buy upholstery fabrics from trusted sellers who can guarantee that the fabric is harmless to health.
Fabrics are generally considered as sound absorbers, dampening the noise in the space. However, they not only absorb sounds, but also emit them. If you pass your hand over the fabric, or rub one fabric against another, depending on the material and the surface of the fabric, you can hear higher or deeper, softer or more pronounced tones of the "rustling" fabric. If you have sensitive ears, it is therefore advisable to think about such a seemingly small thing when choosing a cover. A rustle, a soft creak, or a whistling sound may not be what you want to hear when you're relaxing.
Our senses can tell us a lot about the upholstery fabric. But not everything, that's why the eyes play an important role when studying the information provided by the manufacturer or seller about the material. It is precisely those properties of the covering fabric that cannot be captured by the senses (for example, resistance to abrasion or dirt, colorfastness, tensile and seam strength, suitability for use in the interior or exterior) that are often important for determining its durability in the conditions in which we want it to use. Therefore, if we are to choose correctly, it is necessary to focus not only on sensations and impressions, but also on reason and concepts.