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How to distinguish good fabric from bad: 10 tips for identifying your ideal textile

26 January 2018

When choosing a fabric to adorn a living room, a bedroom, or any other part of the house or important space, there are many factors that make us lean towards deciding on one or another. However, the starting point should always be what the fabric will be used for.

Why? Because we have to know what type of material we will need and can use. If, for example, silk curtains are exposed to constant sunlight, in six months, the color will have started to fade because of the strength of the light.

To make sure this doesn’t happen, one of the most important factors to consider when distinguishing (and choosing) a good-quality fabric from one that is not and finding an ideal location for it is the experience and advice of the sales representative.

In the list below, we elaborate on this, along with six other decisive factors for choosing the right fabric for your needs. We know the decision isn’t easy for people with no experience in textiles, but we feel that the following indications will be of great help and guidance.


1. Recommended brand, with experience in the sector.

Here at Equipo DRT, we have been working in the field of textile design for 28 years now. This level of experience, hand in hand with the expertise of our CEO  Pepe Terol, allows us to be extremely demanding about the quality of the fabrics we design and offer to our clients.

In this context, a company like ours and others with years of experience in the sector can always serve as a reference when it comes time to know whether you have chosen a good fabric.

The fact is that brand matters; it adds value to the product, as is the case when we buy milk with the guarantee of quality from a company like Nestlé, or a car from BMW, or high-quality cosmetics from Estée Lauder.

The establishment where the fabric is purchased and the fact that it is a line from a reputable brand comprise the essential first steps in identifying a high-quality fabric. Street markets, for example, do not guarantee the quality of the products sold, either for their suitability or lack of defects; unfortunately, bargains rarely go hand in hand with quality in the field of household fabrics. This seems so obvious that we sometimes forget that it happens to be true.


2. Feel and drape: fabric weight

The senses play a great role when it comes to distinguishing what kind of product  we have our hands. When our eyes keep returning to a specific design, when we feel like caressing a certain fabric, when we touch it and it transmits the quality and elegance that our eyes noticed at first glance, that’s a sure sign that we have a good fabric on our hands. Its feel and its drape, its bearing, weight, and elegance, are all synonymous with quality.

The same thing happens with sound. That’s right: a good fabric has a characteristic sound. When you ruffle and stretch a fabric — a good fabric — like an accordion, it sounds tough, firm, and satisfying, not rough or scratchy. It generates a certain tension and causes the hands to pause. Maybe you have not had the opportunity to do so, but if you ever have a fabric from our Maly line in your hands, put it to the test.


3. The design: color, transparency, and pattern.

You have to be especially careful with this, since nowadays «anyone» can make a design and a print, but not necessary with the same quality under any old name.

In fact, the quality of the design and the experience of the firm behind it (the recognized artists and designers with a history and reputation), often determine how good the fabric is on which their work will appear.

Here at Equipo DRT, we have had the great privilege of working with first rate artists and designers who have created wonderful fabrics: Cres Muñoz (whose classic designs include those of our Gran Mogol, Geishas, Butterfly, and Licuala fabrics) Antonio Solaz (the designer behind Katmandu, Nino, and Les Amis, from our Divertimento collection), Julieta.XLF (a graffiti artist who created the magical world of Selva), Pappenpop (creator of the whimsical, rhythmic fabrics in our Sarabande collection, which include matching wallpaper) and Mariscal, our latest entry into the world of designer fabrics, who has created Russafa, our newest collection in 2018.


4. Durability and resistance.

The resistance of a fabric or an upholstery can be measured and expressed in figures and data. For example, the Martindale test is used to determine the number of life cycles of a textile, marking the difference between a bad and a good fabric  at 15,000 cycles. Over 15,000 cycles — a figure that actually appears on the labels of the fabrics — is considered to be the mark of a high quality fabric. Equipo DRT’s Perseo upholstery line is an example of a durable fabric with a long life.

One quality that is evident during these cycles (and is also palpable after repeated cleaning of the fabric) is whether it retains its condition, color, shape, and texture after each wash, maintaining its initial characteristics.


5. Technical qualities: more than meets the eye.

Some aspects associated with a good fabric go way beyond the aforementioned details: they cannot be appreciated by the naked eye, they cannot be touched, and they cannot be perceived at first glance unless you know what else these fabrics bring to the table.

Technical aspects include:

Outdoor fabrics with a Tempotest guarantee and Teflon finish. The colors of these textiles do not fade in sunlight, they repel water and oil, and they are also resistant to mold (rot-proof textiles).

——- For example, our Thira collection, which is comprised of the homonymous Thira line, as well as the Pitiusa, Náutica, and Elba fabrics.

Flame-retardant fabrics. These certified fabrics are inflammable and are perfect for installation in collective spaces: public spaces in general, hotels, auditoriums, and sports centers, for example.

——- The Orfeo line, Dedalo, Ceres, Beta, and Omega, all from Equipo DRT’s  Arkitect collection.

Acoustic fabrics, which help improve the acoustic qualities of spaces, including improved insulation from exterior sounds.

——- Orfeo and Sarabande collections by Equipo DRT.

Recycled fabrics, such as those created from discarded polyester material and recycled PET bottles in our Up series of fabrics. An ecofriendly collection.

——- Up, Up-Twist, and Up-Swing curtain fabrics from the Up and Up-Home collections.

Indantheren-dyed fabrics. This is the most durable dye in existence and the only one that can be used with cotton fabrics. It is used for tablecloths and other textiles which require constant washing at high temperatures.

——- Equipo DRT’s Tyris line is a great example of this type of fabric.


6. Composition: thread-count, fiber length, and weave types.

What are the textiles we buy made out of? It isn’t easy for the naked eye to see, although sometimes you can actually see the fragility of some fabrics. For this reason you have to refer to the label in order to find out the composition percentages of each of the fibers.

Natural fibers (cotton, wool, linen, and silk) always have added value and, in some cases, even improve the permanence of the colors, making them sharper and more attractive.

When it comes to synthetic fibers such as polyester, the best quality must always be used in order to guarantee greater resistance and durability over time. In this context, the product’s brand is a guarantees for its quality, since the inexperienced, inexpert eye cannot possibly distinguish a good polyester from a bad one.

In this sense it is helpful to look at the «pilling» effect. When fabrics show a minimum amount of «pilling,» which is equivalent to the exfoliation of a fabric, it is a sign of poor quality. “Pilling” occurs when the fibers are so short that any kind of friction breaks them, making them protrude from the fabric to produce annoying and unattractive little balls or “pills.”

Although it is not visible, a good fabric is composed of many threads, which is what gives a fabric its weight and a dense weave. That is, when woven, the higher the thread count in both the weft and the warp — which form the basis of any  textile product — the more threads there are in the fabric itself and, therefore, the higher the quality of the textile.

This is the infallible equation of any fabric. All are woven with a weft and a warp, but not all have the same thread count or thread quality.

In our sector, contrary to what you might think, the thinner the thread, the more expensive it is. However, if a thread is fine but of poor quality, it will break. If it is high quality thread, it will be fine, but resistant, producing a better quality material which will naturally be more expensive. Fabrics from our Savoy lines are a good example of this type of high-end material.

Fabrics composed of very fine yarns are the ones that have the best drape: they naturally exhibit a greater movement, greater flow, and at first glance they are usually the most beautiful and vibrant, such as silk.


These are just some qualities and aspects that can help you — and all of us —  identify a good quality fabric. Tell us your personal tips for distinguishing good fabrics from bad; add your suggestions and we will expand our list. Please write to our contact mail.

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