The Differences Between Upholstery Fabrics and Clothing Fabrics

The Differences Between Upholstery Fabrics and Clothing Fabrics

Fabrics are an essential part of our daily lives, so we see them everywhere, from the clothes we wear to the furniture we sit on. However, not all textiles are the same. Regarding upholstery and clothing fabrics, there are significant differences to understand.

In this essay, we will explore the differences between upholstery and clothing fabrics, from their composition and texture to their durability and suitability for different applications. 

What are upholstery fabrics?

Upholstery fabrics are tightly woven materials used for padding and covering furniture to provide comfort, durability, and aesthetics. These fabrics are specifically designed to withstand the wear and tear associated with furniture use.

Characteristics of upholstery fabrics

Upholstery fabrics have specific characteristics that make them suitable for use in furniture upholstery.

1. Durability: Upholstery fabrics need to be durable to withstand regular use and maintain their appearance over time. Fabrics with higher thread counts are generally more durable.

2. Resistance to Wear and Soiling: Upholstery fabrics should offer resistance to wear, fading, and soiling to ensure their longevity.

3. Weaves and Finishes: The weave and finish of upholstery fabrics contribute to their durability and suitability for different settings. Different weaves, such as damask or canvas, can provide different levels of formality and durability.

4. Stain Resistance: Some upholstery fabrics can be treated with stain-resistant finishes to enhance their practicality for everyday use.

5. Comfort: Upholstery fabrics should offer comfort, ensuring a pleasant sitting or lounging experience.

6. Maintenance: Some fabrics may require special care, such as professional cleaning, while others are easier to clean at home.

7. Appearance and Style: Upholstery fabrics greatly impact the appearance of furniture. Fabrics can come in plain, patterned, printed, or embroidered finishes.

The most commonly used fabrics for upholstery

Here are some of the frequently used upholstery fabrics:


Cotton upholstery fabrics are popular due to their durability and resistance to wear and fading.


Leather upholstery adds a luxurious touch to furniture and is known for its durability, water resistance, and hypoallergenic properties. It is easy to clean and maintain, but it can be expensive and requires special cleaning products.


Polyester upholstery fabric, often in the form of microfiber, is a synthetic option that offers softness, comfort, and ease of cleaning. It can mimic the look of leather and blends well with various interior themes.


Linen upholstery fabric provides a chic and casual look. It is breathable and adds a natural aesthetic to furniture.


Wool upholstery fabric is known for its durability and natural resilience. It can be blended with synthetic fibers for easy maintenance and resistance to various issues. Wool blends provide warmth and a cozy feel.

Synthetic Blends

Fabrics made from synthetic blends, such as cotton blends or wool blends with synthetic fibers, offer increased durability and can be family-friendly. They often benefit from stain-resistant finishes.

What are Clothing fabrics?

Clothing fabrics refer to the various types of materials used in the production of garments. These fabrics come in a wide range of options, each with its own unique properties and characteristics.

Characteristics of clothing fabrics

Characteristics of clothing fabrics can vary based on factors such as fiber content, structure, manufacturing process, and intended use.

1. Fiber Content: The type of fiber used in fabric production greatly influences its characteristics. Natural fibers like cotton, silk, linen, and wool offer breathability, comfort, and varying degrees of durability.

Synthetic fibers such as polyester, nylon, and rayon provide durability, wrinkle resistance, and moisture-wicking properties.

2. Weaving and Knitting: Fabrics can be woven or knit. Woven fabrics are created by interlacing two sets of yarns at right angles, resulting in a stable and structured fabric with little stretch.

Knit fabrics are created by interlocking loops of yarn, making them more flexible and stretchy.

3. Texture and Hand: Fabric texture refers to its surface feel, which can range from smooth and silky to coarse or textured. The hand of a fabric describes its behavior when touched or handled, such as being soft, firm, or crisp.

4. Weight and Thickness: Fabrics can vary in weight and thickness, which can influence their drape, insulation properties, and suitability for different seasons.

Lighter-weight fabrics are often used for summer clothing, while heavier fabrics provide warmth in colder climates.

5. Breathability: Fabrics that offer breathability allow air circulation, promoting comfort and moisture-wicking properties.

The most commonly used fabrics for Clothing

The most used fabrics for clothing vary depending on various factors such as fashion trends, climate, personal preferences, and intended use of the garment.


Cotton is a natural fiber widely used in clothing due to its breathability, comfort, and versatility. It can be woven into various fabrics like jersey, poplin, twill, and denim. Cotton is suitable for a wide range of clothing items, including t-shirts, shirts, dresses, and jeans.


Polyester is a synthetic fabric known for its durability, wrinkle resistance, and affordability. It is commonly used in fast fashion due to its low cost of production. Polyester blends, such as polyester-cotton blends, are also prevalent in clothing.


Nylon is another synthetic fabric with excellent strength and durability. It is often used in activewear, swimwear, and hosiery due to its moisture-wicking properties and stretchability.


Rayon is a semi-synthetic fabric made from cellulose fibers. It is known for its softness and draping qualities, resembling natural fibers like silk. Rayon is commonly used in a variety of clothing items, including dresses, blouses, and linings.


Linen is a natural fabric made from the fibers of the flax plant. It is highly breathable, absorbent, and lightweight, making it suitable for warm weather. It is commonly used in shirts, dresses, pants, and suits.


Silk is a luxurious and delicate natural fabric produced by silkworms. It is known for its smooth and lustrous texture. Silk is commonly used in formal wear, lingerie, and high-end fashion items.


These synthetic fabrics are known for their stretchability and elasticity. They are often blended with other fabrics to provide comfort and flexibility in activewear, swimwear, and form-fitting garments.


Wool is a natural fiber derived from sheep or other animals. It is valued for its warmth, moisture-wicking properties, and insulating qualities. Wool is commonly used in sweaters, coats, and winter wear.

Clothing fabrics

What are the differences between upholstery and clothing fabrics?

The differences between upholstery fabrics and clothing fabrics are as follows:


Upholstery fabrics are specifically designed for covering and padding furniture, providing both functional and decorative elements to conceal stuffing, offer comfort, and transform the overall look of the furniture.

On the other hand, clothing fabrics are intended for making garments, prioritizing softness, comfort, and lightweight qualities to ensure a breathable feel and moderate body temperature in different seasons.

Durability and Thickness

Upholstery fabrics are constructed to be highly durable and thick to withstand the wear and tear of furniture use. They need to be able to resist friction, frequent cleaning, and potential abrasions.

In contrast, clothing fabrics may have different levels of durability depending on the intended use of the garment, but they are generally lighter and thinner to provide comfort and ease of movement.

Weaving and Construction

Upholstery fabrics often feature larger-scale prints and distinct patterns achieved through flat or pile weaving techniques. These patterns are woven into the fabric, ensuring durability. Additionally, backings are often added to fabrics like velvet, chenille, and vinyl to provide extra strength and support.

Clothing fabrics, on the other hand, may have a variety of patterns and weaves, but they typically prioritize softness and drape rather than heavy construction.

Fiber Composition

Both upholstery and clothing fabrics can be made from a range of natural and synthetic fibers such as cotton, wool, linen, silk, polyester, rayon, nylon, and synthetic materials like faux leather and suede.

However, the specific fiber compositions and blends may vary depending on the desired properties of the fabric and the intended use. Upholstery fabrics may include fibers that enhance durability, stain resistance, and flame resistance, while clothing fabrics often prioritize comfort and breathability.

Care and Maintenance

Upholstery fabrics generally require specialized cleaning methods due to their heavy construction and potential for stains. They may need professional cleaning or spot cleaning depending on the fabric type and specific care instructions.

Clothing fabrics, on the other hand, are often designed to be easier to clean and maintain, with many options being machine washable or suitable for standard care methods.


Buy wholesale upholstery fabrics

If you are a specialist in the trading of upholstery fabrics or an expert in interior designs and are interested in purchasing materials of high quality and durability without compromising elegance and beauty, do not miss the opportunity to look at Al-Nassaj products.

We invite you to join the list of clients of the Al-Nassaj Group!

With over two decades of experience in this field, we have built great business connections with hundreds of customers and agents in several countries worldwide.

Also, read:

Buy upholstery fabric from China

Types of curtain fabrics

How to choose the right fabric manufacturer


What is the main difference between upholstery fabrics and clothing fabrics?

Upholstery fabrics are specifically designed for furniture padding and covering, prioritizing durability and resilience. Clothing fabrics, on the other hand, focus on softness, comfort, and breathability for the wearer.

What are some commonly used materials for upholstery fabrics?

Commonly used materials for upholstery fabrics include cotton, leather, polyester, linen, wool, and synthetic blends.

How do upholstery fabrics and clothing fabrics differ in terms of care and maintenance?

Upholstery fabrics often require specialized cleaning methods due to their size and potential for damage. Clothing fabrics, on the other hand, are often machine washable or easier to maintain.

What are the primary characteristics of clothing fabrics?

Clothing fabrics prioritize lightweight construction, softness, and drape to ensure comfort and ease of movement for the wearer.

Are upholstery fabrics and clothing fabrics woven differently?

Yes, upholstery fabrics and clothing fabrics may have different weaving techniques depending on their intended use and desired characteristics.

Can upholstery fabrics be used for clothing or vice versa?

While it is possible to use upholstery fabrics for clothing or clothing fabrics for upholstery in some cases, it is generally not recommended due to differences in purpose, durability, and care requirements.

Do upholstery fabrics and clothing fabrics have different aesthetic features?

Yes, upholstery fabrics often feature larger-scale prints and patterns to suit furniture aesthetics, while clothing fabrics may have a wider range of designs and patterns suitable for personal fashion preferences.

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