Picking the right outdoor fabric for your project can be a daunting process, but today we are going to make it quick and easy! We'll tell you everything you need to know about selecting the right outdoor textile for your desired durability, price and design aesthetic.
Select Fabrics Labeled for Outdoor Use
Start by selecting fabrics labeled for outdoor use. These fabrics have been specially treated for resistance to water, stains, UV and other outside elements.
Fabric.com has a wide variety of outdoor fabrics to choose from, but today we will talk about some of the most common outdoor fabrics, their benefits and what projects they are best suited for.
Some of the most common fabric groups to look for in outdoor use are:
Consider Desired Durability and Price
When selecting fabric for your outdoor project, one important item to consider is how durable you’d like your project to be. If a wider selection of prints and styles, along with a lower price, is most important to you, then look for products labeled for outdoor use which are Polyester-based Outdoor fabrics such as:
These fabrics are typically medium weight, easy to sew with, and come in a wide variety of prints and styles. Many are UV treated for an average of only 500 light hours before fading occurs, so they should be brought indoors when not in use. They can be easily cleaned with warm water and mild soapy solution. These fabrics are perfect for adding a personal touch to an outdoor space with pillows or light upholstery.
If you’re looking for something more durable that you won’t have to worry about bringing indoors during those long summer days, look for products labeled for outdoor use which are either Solution-dyed Acrylic or Solution-dyed Olefin fabrics. These fabrics will provide more durability over polyester-based fabrics and can withstand the long hours of direct summer sunlight. Some of our favorites are:
These fabrics range from medium to very heavyweight canvas or jacquard-style fabrics made for durability. Although very limited in prints, these fabrics get their color from solution dyed fibers before they are spun into fabric, drastically reducing any fading from UV rays. This fiber is often used for outdoor awnings, umbrellas and covers. These fabrics have a higher abrasion resistance (stated in double-rubs) as well, making them perfect for outdoor upholstery, cushions and pillows. Although these fabrics are made to resist the outdoor elements, they should still be brought under cover when not in use to help prolong the life of your project. The price points are usually higher than Polyester fabrics, but for good reason.
One common approach is to mix both of these fabric types together. Utilize acrylic fabrics for your solids which will last much longer, and add Polyester fabrics to add that personal touch to your outdoor space.
Heavy Duty Outdoor Projects
Now let’s talk about more heavy duty outdoor fabrics. If you are working on a project such as poolside or patio chairs, look for fabrics labeled as PVC Mesh. PVC Mesh fabric is commonly used in sling-style outdoor furniture - pool chairs and patio chairs that have a plastic-like basket weave appearance. Water can pass through them, they dry quickly, and most are fade resistant. Because PVC mesh doesn’t stretch, they don’t require any cushioning underneath for support- it can be simply attached to a metal or wood furniture frame. Some of our favorites are:
For heavy duty upholstery, such as boat or automotive upholstery, marine vinyl is an excellent choice. The most durable of the outdoor fabrics we are covering today, marine vinyl has been treated for water, stain and UV resistance and has a high abrasion resistance as well.
Marine vinyl typically has a leather-look and can be used for boat or automotive upholstery, but can also be used indoors for high-traffic upholstery for home or commercial use. These fabrics can simply be wiped clean as needed.Some of our favorites include:
We hope this guide to outdoor fabrics helps to point you in the right direction. Happy sewing!
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