A sofa or chair is not just a piece of furniture – it is a haven to escape to.
Every sofa, chair and ottoman we build is crafted in high quality materials. The strength of our sofas are designed to withstand the various stresses to which it is subjected during its working life.
Each range is expertly matched to give the ultimate combination of style and comfort. We work with some of the largest fabric mills to bring you a collection of modern fabrics which are all tested to industry standards for durability, resistance to fading, pilling and abrasion to ensure that your fabric will hold up to daily use.
This guide has been created to help you understand fabric upholstery, so you can appreciate the quality and the necessary care and maintenance to ensure that your sofa will be with you for years to come.
Modern upholstery fabrics are quite different to the fabrics typically used in making garments. Garment fabrics are known for their use of natural fibre yarns such as cotton, linen, silk, wool, rayon blended together, or blended with man-made synthetic fibres such as polyesters, acrylics, and nylon.
Fabrics used to create beautiful upholstery must perform differently to what is expected for garments. Today’s advanced upholstery fabrics primarily utilise man-made synthetic fibre yarns because they can help to:
While this is not an all-inclusive list of contents found in upholstery fabrics, these are the basics:
Natural fibres generally feature flat weaves that are ideal for prints. They are softer, and tailor well for upholstered furniture. However, being a natural product they can fade in direct sunlight, and may be susceptible to pilling. Examples include: cotton, linen, wool and silk.
Synthetic fibres are made by extruding chemicals into fibre strands. They are more durable and (in general) more resistant to staining and fading than natural fibres. However, synthetic fibres are just as likely to be susceptible to pilling. Examples include: acrylic, polyester & nylon.
Depending on which fabric you choose and how you use and maintain your fabric upholstered furniture will determine how long it lasts and maintains its look and feel.
Prior to your sofa leaving the factory, it will receive a final inspection. It will then be wrapped in order to protect it and minimise movement whilst in transit. Once unpacked, fabric sofas may require “dressing” which involves plumping up the back cushions and the arm pads of each sofa.
During the first 3 months of use, polyurethane foam in the seats and cushions tends to soften and then should permanently stabilise. This settling may also create very slight folds on the covering which is a completely normal characteristic of the product.
If your sofa has fibre or feather filling, it will be necessary to model or ‘dress’ them to ensure they return to their initial look, which will have altered during transit. These types of cushion give a more relaxed comfort so general use will naturally show more creasing.
Sofas with a polyester wrap around the foam will give some softness whilst allowing the foam to breathe and resist creasing. When used with high density foam they give a more tailored and uniform look.
Back cushions are normally finished either in a “box” type or a knife edge (where there is a continuous seam in the middle of the cushion).
The load bearing components of Freedom’s frames are correctly engineered from various timber and timber composites. Timber products, such as structural grade plywoods, are featured in appropriate areas according to the requirements of the design. Where required, joints will be reinforced with corner blocks for added strength.
Depending on the design of the sofa, high strength webbing or sinuous steel springs are used to provide support to the seat cushions.
If your new Freedom sofa feels or looks a little different to the one you saw in the store (the seat may feel firmer; the fabric might look tighter), that’s because your furniture is brand new, unlike the store’s floor sample which may have already been well “run-in” by many visitors.
If your purchase of a new sofa, that is an identical article and/or has the same colour as a sofa that you already own, it is possible that because of fabric dye-lots you may note slight differences in shades of colour between the two.
Similar to a new car, your sofa may have a strong smell after it is unpacked. This is normal and after airing in a well-ventilated room or open space, the smell will dissipate. Depending on the surrounding environment the smell may dissipate quickly or over a longer period of time.
Every Freedom fabric is tested to International Standards (ISO) for colourfastness to rubbing and light, abrasion, seam slippage and pilling.
Our fabrics are tested in an independent laboratory and we assess those results to ensure optimal performance.
The Martindale Abrasion machine tests durability of woven fabrics and the STOL Abrasion machine tests the durability of knitted fabrics. In laboratory conditions, fabric samples are continuously rubbed until the yarn is observed to fatigue. The results are a guide to the durability of the covering.
Martindale categories are described as follows:
All Freedom fabrics are tested to General Domestic/Light Commercial application, and no Freedom fabric is used unless it meets this level of durability.
All fabrics are tested for colour fastness. It is important to note that no fabric is 100% colour fast and that it is impossible to prevent colours fading if adequate precautions are not taken in the home. Winter sun, sitting lower in the sky, can cause the most damage, particularly when protective curtains have been pulled back to warm the room.
There are two common causes of fading/bleaching of upholstery fabric. UV and sun damage can cause fading, particularly in bright colours, depending on the degree of exposure. Some fabric damage will be evident where fading is most pronounced. Constant exposure to sun rays will break down fabrics, causing them to become brittle and more susceptible to breaking.
Fading or “bleaching” can also be caused by certain types of medication taken orally or cream based applied directly to the skin. These medications can transfer to the upholstery through the skin causing a bleaching or staining effect. Known medications that can cause this effect include treatment for acne, arthritis, high blood pressure, aspirin based medication and chemotherapy treatments.
Professional steam cleaning on a regular basis will help alleviate the impact. We also recommend you follow the necessary care and maintenance guidelines to ensure your sofa will be with you for years to come.
Fumes from chimneys, auto exhausts, open fires, gas fires, stoves or whatever combustion is present, produce a mild sulphuric acid. This matter is absorbed by or clings to, the furnishing fabric and contributes to discolouration and deterioration of the fabric.
Can occur occasionally as a result of normal daily wear and should not be considered as a fault. There are many variables which can trigger pilling, including climatic conditions, atmospheric purity and user environment. Even specific clothing types (fleecy tracksuits, etc) can transfer pills from the clothing to the furniture fabric. As the fabric surface is rubbed, a single or small group of loose fibres on the surface begins to twist upon itself, forming tiny balls or ‘pills’. Often the catalyst that starts this process is a foreign fibre or speck of dirt.
Pilling can be successfully removed with battery operated pilling tools available to purchase in-store. ‘De-pilling’ only removes unsightly loose surface fibres and does not affect fabric performance.
Freedom strongly advises against allowing pets on furniture. Pets are a leading cause of product concerns. Pet claws can catch the weave, causing damage, along with accelerated wear, pilling and heavy soiling.
Correct care will extend your furniture’s life and value. Various factors determine the life expectancy of your fabric, for example colour, weight and fibre content. Due to so many variables, some fabrics may require specific, specialised cleaning solutions or procedures. Hence it is impossible to provide a single cleaning code for all fabrics.
Your furniture should have a Fabric Care Label affixed to or accompanying the furniture. If in doubt, you can also consult one of our furniture sales specialists.
We highly recommend purchasing a Freedom Fabric Protection Kit with your sofa purchase. This will provide you with the correct products in order to care for your fabric sofa. But remember, these fabric care products are for spot cleaning only. You must closely follow the individual usage directions for each product in the Care Kit. If stains persist, consult a Professional Upholstery Cleaning Service.