When it comes to buying wholesale drapery fabric, the process can be challenging. While choosing the right color or pattern is key to any design project, there are many additional factors that determine whether your final piece is a success.
Drapery fabric can be used for a variety of projects, from creating window treatments to designing valances, headboards, throw pillows and even wall art. Your project may involve providing a fresh new look to a home or office space, or creating a stunning look at an event by draping fabric from the ceiling.
It’s important not only to get the amount of fabric you need, but to get all the details and specifications right so that in the end, you and your clients are pleased with the results. Here are five tips to help ensure that happens:
- Work with a wholesale supplier
- Don’t overlook the weight of the fabric
- Don’t forget your state fire codes
- Take advantage of specialty finishes
- Choose natural fibers
Work With A Wholesale Supplier
Depending on the scope of your project, you may need larger quantities of fabric at lower wholesale prices. If your project is large enough, you may be looking at purchasing drapery fabric by the roll or bolt.
You simply won’t get the best prices from a fabric retailer (which typically works with the general public). You can get better prices from a distributor who acts as a middleman but just know that they increase the price before selling it to a retailer or directly to the buyer.
The best wholesale suppliers will make sure you have access to the quantity of fabric that you need while also offering some cost advantages of purchasing fabric at wholesale prices.
Wholesale suppliers will also have extensive knowledge that can be invaluable when choosing the fabric for your project. While one fabric may be the perfect fit for a window treatment, another type of drapery fabric may be more appropriate for valances.
Don’t Overlook The Weight Of The Fabric
Particularly with hanging fabrics, it is important to consider the weight. The length of the fabric often impacts the final weight, so projects like window treatments, shower curtains and ceiling displays may come with greater weights. However, other customizations like special coatings or backings can make a big difference in weight as well.
Drapery panels used to adorn windows that are too heavy will not hang well, which is why choosing a light- to medium-weight fabric that still effectively blocks natural light while maintaining a billowy flow is key to a quality product. Look for a weight that is less than 13 ounces per square foot.
Ceiling displays and table linens will require an even lower weight depending on the amount of light flow through the fabric you require.
Don’t Forget Your State Fire Codes
Most know that there are fire ratings issues for construction materials in order to maintain compliance. However, what some may not know is that many fabrics must meet flammability codes.
If you’re designing a project that involves using fabric in a public space, you must meet fire safety standards as outlined by the National Fire Protection Association and California law. By limiting the spread of a fire, a building structure can be saved.
If your application requires the fabric you use to meet fire codes, check with your supplier to ensure the fabric has received a protective coating or finish. A coating can be applied to several decorative items, including draperies.
Take Advantage Of Specialty Finishes
Even in wholesale quantities, specialty finishes can transform drapery fabric into extraordinary decor pieces.
For example, custom dyeing services can not only create personalized colors, but more reliable colors. This is important because color shifts can happen with “stock” colors. When you have your own custom dye lot created, much more stringent controls are added so the mill can meet the specifications. The result is repeatable and reliable with a maximum variation of 3% to 5%.
If you choose to custom dye your linen fabric, you typically will provide a Pantone number or swatch of fabric to match. Typically, a lab dip (or 2x2 swatch) is created for your approval. A one- to two-week lead time is required for custom dyeing. Once you receive the lab dip, you are allowed one free revision. Once the lab dip is approved, production begins.
Another specialty finish you can take advantage of is printing services. There are two types of printing services typically 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. 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. A new trend is emerging where larger designs are printed onto larger rollers so corporations can brand their company or advertise their message.
Finally, protective coatings are used to enhance durability, as well as to meet certain industry or government standards. Common coatings include:
- Nano coating, which is a commonly used, very thin transparent plastic polymer film coating that is applied to surfaces to help repel dry particles, water, oil and dirt. It can also be used to create resistance to bacteria.
- Scotchgard and Alta treatments are other types of common protective coatings widely used in homes and office spaces. These treatments prevent fabric stains that can occur from dirt and spills.
- Fire retardant applications are required under California law for public spaces. These 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.
Choose Natural Fibers
When overseeing a design project, one of the choices you’ll have to make is whether you should work with natural or synthetic fibers. Today, nearly two-thirds of textiles are made from synthetics, according to the Ellen Macarthur Foundation. Synthetic fibers are usually constructed by combining natural materials with man-made fibers. A popular example is polyester.
Natural fibers come from naturally-occurring plants and animals. Popular examples include cotton and linen. Of the two, linen fabric is more environmentally-friendly because it tends to last longer, decay naturally when disposed of and is not made with dangerous chemicals. Many farmers do not use irrigation or fertilization during the growing process and no part of the plant is wasted during harvesting.
If sustainability is an important indicator of quality, choosing linen as your textile will provide you and your customers with an environmentally-friendly product.
It’s also important to keep in mind that characteristics of your natural textile can increase its quality. Fabrics with tighter weaves often equate to higher thread counts and comfort, and higher thread counts often mean higher durability in the long run.
For interior designers, working with a versatile fabric that is sustainable and can be customized to meet the needs of your clients is key to ensuring a luxurious, show-stopping product.