French linen has long been associated with elegance, durability and strength. If you’ve chosen this highly sought-after textile for your next project, your next step is to get the amount of fabric you need in a timeframe that allows you to meet your deadline.
As you look for a French linen supplier, here are three tips to ensure you have the best shopping experience:
- Do ensure your quantities can be met.
- Do check lead times before you place an order.
- Do take advantage of customization opportunities.
DO Ensure Your Quantities Can Be Met
Whether you’re purchasing French linen fabric by the yard or by the bolt, it’s critical that you ensure your quantities can be met before finalizing your transaction. Keep in mind that you may need to acquire additional yards of fabric after your project gets under way.
On the other hand, you may not need large quantities, especially if you’re working on a small project like French linen curtains, table linens or small slipcovers. You may opt to purchase fabric by the yard rather than the bolt. In this case, you should check whether the company you are purchasing from has minimum order quantities.
Where you purchase your fabric will have a significant impact on the quantity of linen fabric available to you.
Typically, you will have three options when it comes to where you purchase your upholstery fabric:
- Manufacturer/wholesale supplier
Working with manufacturing companies or wholesale fabric suppliers will most likely provide you with the quantities you need for your project, as long as they don’t have large order minimums. If you can’t find one with a low minimum order quantity, then you might have to order your fabric through a distributor.
Additional pricing note: Distributors will mark up prices before selling the fabric to an end user. If you can use a wholesale fabric supplier, you are more likely to get the best prices this route.
Using a retailer is often not the best option because they carry very small quantities of fabric. While you can purchase by the yard at retailers, they are also limited in the selection they offer, can’t customize your fabric and are more expensive. If you need additional fabric once you begin your project, you may find that the retailer is now out of stock of the fabric you need.
DO Check Lead Times Before You Place An Order
An expected delivery timeline is an essential part of your project and requires planning before it even begins. Today’s market will throw challenges in your way, from international shipping delays to labor shortages.
Considering French linen is sourced from the other side of the world, it’s important to be aware of how long it will take for a fabric supplier to deliver your order, especially if you have elected to take advantage of customization opportunities, which we’ll dive into in the next section.
In addition to checking with the linen supplier you are considering before you purchase your French linen fabric, there is one decision you can make that generally impacts lead times … the location of your supplier.
Both domestic and international wholesale fabric suppliers offer fabric by the yard or bolt. However, a domestic supplier can provide more benefits, including possible shorter lead times. This is in large part due to shorter shipping times and fewer customs issues since the fabric is already in the United States.
Additional benefits to working with a domestic supplier include fewer time zones to overcome, the ability to visit a company onsite, more recourse if an order is not fulfilled correctly and an easier time reaching the company by phone with questions.
DO Take Advantage Of Customization Opportunities
Customizations can transform a project into a client’s dream. The supplier you work with should offer the opportunity to customize the French linen fabric you choose so that you can fulfill the unique requirements of your project.
Here are some of the ways you can take advantage of customization opportunities.
The color of the French linen fabric you choose can be customized to reflect the client’s tastes and aesthetic preferences. However, when conferring with the client, it’s important that you do not rely on the manufacturer’s website for color. It is better to request a color swatch so that you are more likely to receive the color you desire.
Dye lot variations are common in the textile industry, and color shifts can happen with “stock” colors. Having your own custom dye lot created can help ensure your upholstery fabric features the color you want since much more stringent controls are added so that the mill can meet the specifications. The result is repeatable and reliable with a maximum variation of 3% to 5%.
Custom printing is a great way to give a piece of French linen fabric a one-of-a-kind design. Whether you’re upholstering a chair, designing window draperies or adding the finishing touch on a dining table, custom printing will provide that “wow” factor.
There are two types of printing services available: Rotary/flat bed printing and digital printing.
Rotary/flat bed printing is a direct-to-fabric printing technique where the image is engraved on precision cut stencils, also known as screens. Multiple screens can be used to create a multi-color design and can produce vivid colors and intricate designs on your upholstery fabric. Crisp lines and detailed images are created using screen printing, allowing inks to penetrate the fabric and hold color better and longer.
Digital printing on fabric is also known as DTG, or direct-to-garment printing. Digital printing is any ink-jet based method of printing colorants onto fabric. This process allows for lower minimums, eliminates screen charges and removes the need for screen storage.
When using French linen fabric, the slightest change in fabric weight or the addition of backing can make a big difference in what your final product looks like. For example, manufacturers often add backing to upholstery fabric to help prevent seams from slipping and to add durability.
There are a number of different options available to you based on the scope of your project. For example, latex backing is commonly used on furniture upholstery since the coating helps prevent soil from sifting through the fabric.
Knit backing can also make lighter weight fabrics more durable, allowing designers to use fabrics like chenille and silks for upholstered pieces.
While French linen is known for its luxurious appearance, many homeowners and businesses still want to know that the fabric they choose has a practical purpose as well and will withstand the wear and tear of everyday living. Protective coatings can provide protection against everyday dirt and grime.
A popular protective finish used in homes and offices is called a nano coating, a very thin transparent plastic polymer film coating that helps to repel dry particles, water, oil and dirt. Other options include Scotchgard and Alta treatments, which protect the fabric against dirt and spills.
Manufacturers can also have antimicrobial, antibacterial and antifungal treatments applied to prevent the buildup of bacteria, fungi and dust mites. These treatments are typically needed for design projects at schools, hospitals and outdoor environments.
If you have a commercial project, one of the most important customizations that you may need as you work with upholstery fabric is its fire rating. The state of California, for example, requires that furniture must comply with TB117-2013. This regulation requires that upholstery fabric pass smolder cigarette tests.
Fabrics used in public places must also meet fire safety standards as outlined by the National Fire Protection Association and California law. If your design project involves work in the public sector (federal, state and local government buildings, hospitals, medical facilities, etc.), it’s important that the fabric you use meets fire codes.
Fire retardant applications are required under California law for public spaces as well. Fire retardant applications can be sprayed on or brushed on and help limit the spread of a fire. Rather than igniting, the fabric is protected under intense heat. Check with your supplier to ensure that the fabric has a protective coating or finish.
Linen Fabric By The Yard And Your Project
French Linen is a favorite among designers when creating unique yet durable products for their clients. While consumers have long equated French linen and other types of linen like Belgium linen with elegance, in reality, European linen sources the same flax fibers found in the fields of northern France, the Netherlands and the coastal communities of Belgium.
In fact, World Linen’s main source for flax fiber comes from these European countries.
When selecting the right linen fabric for your project, ensuring a supplier can meet the quantities you need is important. Whether you’re selecting fabric by the yard or by the bolt for larger projects, communication with the supplier to ensure your quantity needs and lead time needs are met can make or break the end result.
Finally, the customizations you have available to you are equally as important, since these can take a standard project and turn it into a one-of-a-kind focal point in a client’s space. The best fabric suppliers will work with you to ensure you have everything you need to design this winning piece.