Difference Between Utility Fabric & Upholstery Fabric


Upholstery and utility fabrics have many uses, but they differ from basic textiles used for clothing. The term "upholstery" is more commonly used to refer to non-clothing fabrics, but utility fabric is not all that dissimilar to upholstery in its composition or its purpose.


  • There is no clear-cut definition of what is considered upholstery and what is considered utility fabric. The differences between the two types of fabric are minimal at best. Both terms refer to fabrics used for purposes other than the creation of clothing, but both also refer to fabric set aside for a specific purpose. Upholstery generally refers to fabric used to cover something else, namely furniture. Utility fabric, on the other hand, has a broader general definition of being a multipurpose fabric. In some sense, upholstery is utility fabric set aside for an even more specific purpose than other utility fabrics. Utility fabric can be used for home decor such as curtains and tablecloths.


  • No limit really exists as far as the number and types of styles available to upholsterers to use on their various upholstery projects. The same may also be said of those using utility fabric for other purposes. Both upholstery and more general utility fabric come in nearly any color and texture. Additionally, patterns for those types of fabrics abound and can include anything from basic flower patterns to far more complex patterns with interwoven words and symbols. Utility fabrics often have a wide variety of patterns available since they are used for various artsy projects, such as crafts or quilting. Upholstery patterns ultimately depend upon the tastes of the decorator or homeowner.


  • The types of fabrics used for utility or upholstery purposes vary widely. Each type of fabric has its own appeal in terms of durability or ease of use. When attempting to choose the right type of fabric for a specific job, it is best to take several different considerations into mind. Some of these include the cost and availability of the fabric, while others include the maintenance required for the fabric or its resistance to dirt and other contaminants. A high-quality fabric may cost more initially, but may save you money in the long run due to its durability and how easy it may be cleaned. For instance, denim may double as a utility fabric used for blankets and as an upholstery material for either indoor or outdoor furniture.

Choosing a Professional

  • While it may be tempting to reupholster your furniture on your own, it may be just as cost-effective to seek the services of an upholsterer. Generally, a high-quality upholsterer can reupholster just about any piece of furniture. Some may even be willing to use your utility fabric for a more general project if it involves covering an item with fabric. Always check the upholsterer's quality of work and reputation in the community before turning over your furniture or other specialty items to him.

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