Know Your Textiles
I am a business owner, and my business is located in a remote area
of the country. When clients visit our place of business, they usually
arrive with specific requests for custom window treatments.
It seems our clients also require detailed information on different
types of fabric—how they work in different settings and many
other specifics including many questions on product content.
Because in our part of the country the temperatures vary from cold
to very warm and humid, I need to know about a great many different
fabric choices for our clients. The problem is, there are no locations
close enough to further my education on textiles. Do you have any
suggestions for where I can go to learn about textiles in detail,
such as weave types, finishes, etc.? Any information would be appreciated.
SOLUTION: Specifics on textiles is the most important
information you could have in your files when it comes to selling
soft window treatments. Learning and passing on that information
to your clients will increase business by showing clients you do
know what you are talking about.
A fabric’s look and performance far exceeds the beauty requirements
of a window treatment—even one that is well thought out. In
fact, when it comes to commercial window treatments, there are specific
legal requirements that must be met regarding performance and flammability.
A textile’s look, performance, weave, finish, individual characteristics
and specifications require much study. Each of these factors will
affect how the fabric performs in its final application. This can
be very important in your part of the country where you say you
have wide swings in temperature and humidity. For instance, if a
fabric has a very loose weave and it is used in an area of high
humidity, the fabric will “grow.” In fact, the length
of the window treatment will be longer the very next day as the
loose weave of that fabric will cause the treatment to stretch in
As the weather changes, the fabric may shrink back to its original
length. This is all due to the humidity and loose weave of the fabric.
Solution: Do not use a loose weave fabric in a highly humid area
of the country.
For a small investment, you can work through a handbook of textile
study that I use in teaching my college classes. This workbook offers
small swatches that are numbered and placed in a notebook format
under specific titles such as weaves and finishes. As you put together
this simple format textile swatch kit, you will learn about each
fabric and then have a reference that you will be able to keep in
your business library, or in your briefcase or to show your customers
types of fabric, fabric weaves and fabric finishes. It will take
some study time on your part, but it is well worth it.
The Textile Kit Instructor and Industry Version Swatch Set can be
found online at: www.atexinc.com/textile_kit_instructor_and_industry
_edition.htm. You can also perform a search online using words such
as “textile swatch kit” or “textile kit” or
“fabric study kit.” I have also found these kits on www.amazon.com,
although any Web site that sells books should have it. The prices
vary, depending on the author of the kit.
Good luck and let me know how you like the kit.
Editor’s note: This is a continuing series of articles written
by Sharon L. Anderson that will answer some of the many questions
we receive at Draperies & Window Coverings as well as questions
Anderson has encountered in her own business. If you have a question
you would like Anderson to address, please send it to:
c/o Draperies & Window Coverings
1724 E. Grand Ave
Lindenhurst, IL 60046
L. Anderson has more than 20 years experience in the residential
and commercial areas of interior design. She is currently a faculty
member at two Southern California colleges. Anderson has been featured
in numerous books and publications.