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What Fabric is Best for Cushions?

Your choice of cushions does more than affect comfort - it makes a definitive design statement in a room, too.

Whether you’re hoping to create a sense of minimalist modernism, vintage luxury or bohemian chic, your choice of cushion covers can cleverly compliment or completely undermine your style theme.

This isn’t limited to the colours, patterns or designs either. Your choice of cushion fabrics can play a big part in the final feel of your space as well. Your cosy country cottage living space could be thrown completely off kilter with a couple of robust leather cushions scattered on your sofa, while the sharp lines of a minimalist design could be ruined with a couple of funky, fun faux fur cushion covers.

Then there’s the rough and tumble lifestyle that your cushions lead, leaving delicate fabrics almost entirely unsuitable. You need covers that will survive heavy use and stand up to multiple turns in the washing machine.

All these extra considerations might seem overwhelming, but they don’t have to be. That’s why we’ve put together this introduction to cushion cover fabric to help you decide which will look good and last well in your home.

What is a furnishing fabric?

One of the defining characteristics of a furnishing fabrics is durability. Whether your stretching it across upholstery, draping it in front of windows or, of course, sandwiching it around a cushion, you’re going to want a fabric that lasts. 

Think about all the use your average cushion gets. Flopped upon, tossed around and (inevitably) spilled on, most fabric cushions will be put through a lot in their lifetime. Their long lifetime if you consider that they’ll likely be used on a daily basis.

So, while realistically any fabric can be a ‘furnishing fabric’ when it comes to cushions covers, it’s best to stick to robust, long-lasting material.

Luckily, that doesn’t limit your fabric cushion cover choices at all.

Types of cushion fabric 

Bearing all those needs in mind, here’s the rundown on the most popular fabrics suited to cushion covers.

Cotton and Linen - Cotton is the most common choice for cushion fabrics and it’s easy to see why. As well as being hardwearing, it soaks up dye and washes well. Plus, because it’s a natural fibre, it’s kind to sensitive skin.

Linen is also natural, but it creases easily. Not always ideal for a cushion cover that’s used a lot. However, it is robust, and softens beautifully after a couple of washes. To harness linen’s best qualities without suffering crumpled, creased covers, it’s often blended with cotton.

Wool and Knitted - The natural fibre that really sells an authentic handmade vibe, wool is naturally flame retardant and hypo-allergenic making it is as safe as it is comforting. The only major drawback with wool is that it doesn’t always wash well: if you don’t keep the temperature low enough it could shrink.

Silk - When it comes to natural fibres, silk is perhaps the most decadent choice of all. It’s sleek, cool finish feels fabulous to the touch and the catches and pulls of an old silk finish, quietly but firmly assert a sense of class. 

You do have to pay for all this luxury though. It is easily one of the most expensive cushion cover fabric options, and far from the most robust. But, if you treat it carefully and wash it kindly, it will bring lasting luxury to your home.

Polyester and Nylon - When it comes to synthetic fibres, polyester and nylon make excellent cushion cover fabric. They were specifically engineered to last, holding shape and colours for the long term. Polyester is known for its wrinkle-resistance, and can be crumpled, squashed and tugged without losing its shape. 

Obviously, these fabrics are man-made which will put off some people. Their durability will also depend on the exact blend of fibres, so it’s important to check labels for washing guidance. 

But these fabrics are so versatile. They can be crafted to imitate more expensive and less robust options, like silk or wool, and they remain a perennially popular fabric choice.

Leather -Few fabrics shout ‘design choice’ as loud as leather does. Perfect when paired with a modern style, it can also soften the twee of a full-on cottage vibe while staying natural and relevant. Use it wisely and it can easily take a room from standard to special.

Leather is also surprisingly durable: an effectively waterproof cushion fabric designed by nature to last and last. 

Velvet - For a dash of luxury in your living room, velvet is the perfect choice. Pick between sumptuous crushed velvet, or a more contemporary velour cushion cover to introduce decadence while still sticking to a robust and hard wearing fabric that is ideal for cushion covers.

Faux Fur - Perhaps the least durable of all these options is faux fur. It’s robust and will last, but after too many washes you will be able to see the wear-and-tear and your super fluffy cuddle cushions won’t be quite as joyful.

Use them sparingly, and spend time maintaining them, because when they’re at their best, you can rely on the punchy eccentricity of faux-fur to bring a smile to your face!

What is the most durable fabric for cushions?

All the fabrics that we’ve listed above will last well under the heavy usage that cushions have. With the proper care, even something as delicate and luxurious as silk or velvet will keep hold of their beauty for years.

But if you’re looking for something as versatile as it is long-lasting, we would suggest going for a reliable cotton-linen blend. It will hold its shape and its colour really well and will wash easily on a suitable temperature. 

Choosing cushions that work is about more than just picking out a pattern. If you want them to suit your style, and withstand your lifestyle, you need to consider the cushion cover fabric too. 

If you’re still not convinced, take a look at our collection of cushions, and see if you can spot one that would feel right at home with you.

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