Cracking the Fabric Code

Cue the 007 music! I always feel like I’m cracking some weird secret code when I look at fabric tags.

Some are more cryptic than others. But generally they have the same information:

      • Who made the fabric and how do I get it?
      • What is the fabric made out of?
      • How wide is the fabric?
      • Where was it made?
      • How big is the pattern repeat?
      • Does it have a protective coating or treatment?
      • How durable is it?
      • How can I clean it?
      • (Commercial Upholstery) Is the fabric suitable for commercial applications? Does it meet fire code or other required regulations?

Example 1a
Example 1b

So let’s look at an example. 1a is the front label on a sample we have hanging here in our special order fabric library. We can tell that the manufacturer is Duralee, the name of the Pattern is DW16013, and we’re looking at color 35, named Tangerine. We need this information so we can check with the manufacturer about availability and price; it’s not that helpful to the customer. But the rest…the rest of the label is info gold!

The fabric is 55″ wide and has a very small pattern repeat, .5″ up and .5″ across. Pattern repeat info is important because it allows you to calculate how much extra fabric you’ll need, for example, if you want to center a pattern on a chair or across the back of a sofa.
This fabric is very durable – 50,000 Wyzenbeek Method means 50,000 double rubs – and it’s a polyester-rayon blend, manufactured in China. Based on that information, without feeling this fabric, I would suspect that it would be a good upholstery fabric. If you wanted to see this fabric with other fabrics like it, you’d look for the Duralee D3085 Book.
Finally, the cleaning code: S
Here’s example #2 from Fabricut.

The information on here is a little different. For example, you don’t know where the fabric was manufactured, but there is a QR code to take you to their website for more information. Instead of a code, they tell you that Dry Cleaning is recommended. It’s 57″ wide, 100% polyester, has a water repellent finish, is super durable and is flame retardant. They even tell you that it’s suitable for draperies, bedspreads, and upholstery. Very cool.
Hopefully this overview has helped you so that you can approach those fabric labels with confidence and crack the code on your own!

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