Our Guide to Buying Furnishing Fabric


We are often asked questions about fabrics by our customers, so we thought we would put together this guide full of helpful tips and guidelines to buying the right furnishing fabric.

Can I use the same fabric for upholstery and curtains?

Some fabrics are versatile and can be used for both curtains and upholstery. For curtains the rules are straightforward - as long as the fabric hangs well and feels good to the touch it should be fit for purpose. When it comes to upholstery, there are more factors to take into consideration. For a fabric to be suitable for upholstery it has to be more hard wearing than a drapery fabric. In the furnishings industry to class a fabric as an upholstery fabric, it will have had to pass certain tests that ensure it will withstand a certain amount of wear and tear. These standards are usually presented with the fabric specifications but if you are unsure, a quick call to our wonderful customer service team should answer your question quickly.

Are all fabrics fire retardant?

The answer is no. It is not industry standard for a curtain fabric that is to be used in the home to be fire retardant. If however you wanted to use a fabric for contract purposes then your fabric would need to meet FR standards. This can be done using an inherent yarn when the fabric is woven or in some cases for standard upholstery a back coating can be applied to the finished fabric. At McAlister Textiles we stock a range of inherently flame retardant plains, semi plains and prints & you can view this range here

What is an inter-liner?

An inter-liner is a slightly wadded piece of fabric that sits between the curtain and the lining. The purpose of this is to provide a look of complete luxury. The curtains hang better and feel incredibly sumptuous. It also provides another level of warmth.

How do I know I am selecting the right colour for my room?

We often get asked this question and we're pleased to say we can help you with this. As you may know, the one thing that gives McAlister Textiles its unique selling point is the expertise of our In-House Designers. We often get customers calling us for help in selecting the right fabric, and our design team are always ready to help. They will be able to understand your needs and advise which designs would be most suitable.

How do I know what the best trends are?

This is a question for our in-house design team. They visit a number of interior trade shows throughout the year we are delighted to share information on forthcoming trends through our blogs and pinterest boards. If you have a question about trends, colours or design contact our customer service team and we will be happy to help.

I can’t find a fabric to match my wallpaper?

Simply send us a swatch of your wallpaper and we will advise which fabrics that would be best suited to your scheme. Looking for a particular type of design, a floral for example – just call or email us with the details and we can do the rest.

We hope that answers some of your questions but if there is anything else you'd like to know please contact us for friendly and helpful advice.


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