Textiles: The Soft vs. The Durable

Jun 21, 2023

Textiles: The Soft vs. The Durable

One of our favorite parts of working here at Wheaton Whaley Home is the constant opportunities we have to work with beautiful fabrics!  We appreciate the great relationships we have formed with our fabric reps and vendors and love seeing the newest textiles on a regular basis, thanks to them!  These reps are well trained and educated on their fabric lines and graciously pass along their knowledge of the characteristics and qualities of the fabrics they sell.  The big name fabric houses we work with are well known and respected in the design industry. Many of them have been producing textile designs and fabrics for well over a hundred years.  The boutique lines we work with are ones that have deep connections with bigger fabric and printing companies, insuring their products are highest quality, as well.  

The fabric lines we source from to create our finished goods are a big part of who we are!  We rely on them to produce the fabrics that we then use to produce your finished soft goods for your home.  We want to be sure we partner with the best, so we are sure to give you the best final product!  They do their part of designing and making the fabric, and we do ours of producing the finished good, and together, we give you something GREAT! 

With that being said; NOT ALL FABRICS ARE EQUAL.  We do work with the best fabric manufacturers, no doubt, but the longevity and durability of the fabrics goes well beyond a brand name - it's all about their fiber makeup.  All textiles are made of either natural fiber, man made fibers or a mix of those two.  Here's a breakdown of the characteristics of the fiber content of most of our pillow offerings.

Linen:  It's natural, made of flax, and is durable, strong and long lasting in it's natural state (unbleached and natural color).  Every time a linen fiber textile is altered or handled (bleached, printed on, dyed, rubbed, touched and so on) it breaks down a bit.  Many of the decorative linen fabrics we cary are often printed onto a linen that has been pre-bleached or treated then printed or dyed.  So, while they are beautiful and soft and lovely, we recommend using them in areas where they will not get constant interaction as they are a bit more delicate once they've gone through all the processing. Even something as simple as the natural oils on our hands breaks down both the inks and fibers. Linen does not absorb inks/dyes as well as cotton, and the print may be printed on the surface of the fabric, vs dyed into it.  Simply put, they have a shelf life, and the less and more gingerly they are handled, the longer they will last.  Spraying them with a fabric guard upon arrival to you will also help extend their life. 

Cotton:  Very similar overall characteristics to the linen mentioned above.  Cotton is made of shorter fibers and is a bit less durable than linen.  It is also a natural fiber and it's shelf life will not be as long as a man-made synthetic performance fabric. So again, here, we suggest a protective spray when you get it, as little handling as possible for the 100% cotton pieces as well.  Big positive:  it's natural, soft and lovely and cotton takes dyes and prints well, so they are more colorfast and often vibrant than linen. 

Synthetics and Performance:  These are the heavy hitters. There are a few brands of performance fabrics, and the overall just of them is that they are pre-treated synthetic fibers that will endure a great deal more interaction and "life" than our natural fiber options.  However, there are things to keep in mind: the "hand" (or feel) of the fabric will not be as soft and they are indeed, not natural.  They will be more colorfast, and they will not fade as quickly as natural fiber options.  They are dense and durable and they will not "pill" the way natural fibers will.  They repel dirt and resist fiber breakdown much more than natural fibers.  Companies are often coming out with new synthetic fibers, one "better" than the last and the technology is pretty impressive.  

Blends:  Blends combine synthetics with natural fibers and are often a great option for getting a bit the best of both worlds.  They are often a bit more durable, brighter, more colorfast and easier to clean.  They are a bit softer to the hand. 

We offer all of these types of fabrics on our sites, so we hope to have something that appeals to everyone!  Wether you want the more delicate gorgeous decorative linen pillow that will not last forever, or you want the pillows for the playroom that will take a beating and last until the kids move out- we've got you covered!