Fabric Information


Furnishing fabrics fall into two categories; Curtaining and Upholstery.


Curtain fabrics – mainly used to dress windows, they can also be used for cushions, throws and often used for crafts, such as making bags and lampshades. They can sometimes be used for light upholstery


Upholstery fabrics – are used to cover furniture, it is generally much stronger than curtain fabrics, but can very often be used for curtains and blinds


Upholstery weight fabric


The Martindale test is a measure of the durability of a fabric.  The tests are carried out on fabrics to check their suitability for various uses – i.e. decorative chairs, heavy-traffic areas or commercial furniture.  The test is also known as the ‘rub test’, and tests for abrasion resistance. The outcome of the test then results in a figure ie 30,000. This indicates how robust the fabric will be for its intended use.

However not all fabrics are tested by suppliers therefore if you purchase a fabric from Calico that has not been tested to Martindale standard this is purchased at your own risk.


Classification of upholstery fabrics for household use:

Light domestic; ie scatter cushions and armchairs not used regularly

Moderate domestic; daily use, ie dining room chairs & headboards

Heavy domestic; a highly durable fabric to withstand rigorous use, ie sofas


Flame Retardent Fabrics


Fabrics need to comply with the ‘Furniture and Furnishing (Fire) (safety) regulations 1988’ if they are to be used for upholstery. 


None of the regular range of fabrics we stock are flame retardant. There is small selection that can be ordered in which is pre-treated.

We do provide a service where your purchased fabric can be treated to comply with fire safety regulations. This can take 2-3 weeks and the cost depends on the fabric and quantity to be treated. Please note that flame retarding can affect the finish, handle and occasionally the colour of fabrics.


We do sell a flame retardant barrier cloth. 


Our flame retardant schedule 3 barrier cloth is used under upholstery where the fabric is not flame retardant.  This lining goes between the fabric and furniture and ensures that the finished piece complies with British Standards fire safety regulations.


Please liaise with your curtain maker or upholsterer as to whether your fabric needs to be flame retardant.


Pattern repeats


All fabrics that have a pattern will have either a vertical or horizontal repeat and sometimes both. Pattern repeats are crucial when joining fabrics together and will often mean you need extra in your calculations.

Curtains and blinds are vertically matched. All of our Made To Measure curtains and blinds are pattern matched.

Fabric widths vary, therefore seams may be present in your curtains and roman blinds.

We will always be happy to calculate the quantity you need provided the information given to us is correct. If you are using a curtain maker, we would advise that you ask them what quantity you need to purchase, as all makers work differently.


Colour batches


Just like wallpaper there can be shading differences between fabric rolls. We cannot guarantee that current stocks will match previous rolls or original samples. When colour matching is crucial we can request batch swatches. If you are purchasing a large quantity it might result in having more than one roll, if we need to order the fabric in we can request that the new rolls are from the same batch. This can also be the equivalent for pattern repeats.


Fabric care & washing


Each fabric is individual in its care instructions. Most of our manufacturers recommend dry cleaning only for furnishing fabrics.  In general they are not suitable for regular washing and cleaning as this can result in the fabric shrinking, fading and gradually weaken it.

If you need to wash it we recommend you test wash a small piece first, wash on a gentle/30-degree cycle with non-biological detergent, do not tumble dry.

Many fabrics can be ironed or pressed with caution. Some polyester fabrics can react badly to heat. Steam irons can cause shrinkage or stretching. Always test iron a piece of fabric first, using the coolest setting, on the wrong side of the cloth.

A shrinkage tolerance of up to 5% should be allowed when making curtains and soft furnishings.


Atmospheric Conditions


Atmospheric conditions such as temperature and humidity can vary.  Please note as this is beyond our control we cannot accept responsibility for movement of curtains once they have been hung.


Sunlight and heat


All fabrics can be affected by light and heat. Fading may occur over time depending on the degree of light and heat that the fabric is exposed to.The effects on curtains can be minimised by using a good quality lining. Maybe consider leading edges on your curtains using a different fabric, and swapping the curtains over from time to time can help reduce the exposure to sunlight.

Fabric colour


We try our best to represent the colouring of the fabrics with our photographs on our website, but some colours can differ. Colours can also vary on different computer screens.


For any more information please contact us



The Design Quarter

143 Colchester Avenue



CF23 9AN

Tel: 029 2049 3020

Email: cardiffcalico@gmail.com


78-82 Bedminster Parade




Tel: 01179 533 663

Email: bristolcalico@gmail.com

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