Cushions are made for a number of purposes ranging from outdoor patio chairs to sofas. When shopping for fabrics, examine how a cushion will be used. Durable fabrics are usually woven tightly. Unlike functional cushions, which get a lot of abuse, accent pieces may be chosen from a greater variety of materials.
Common plant fabrics, like cotton and linen, come in a pure or blended form. Cotton from the cotton plant is versatile and is made into durable fabrics like canvas or more fragile materials like velvet or voile. The fabric is breathable and easy to wash. Linen made from flax is tougher than cotton. Linen wrinkles easily but is antifungal, and, like cotton, it is breathable and easy to wash.
Animal fabrics range from silk to leather. Silk is a product of the silk worm cocoon. It is a breathable fabric that is smooth and soft to touch and has a natural shiny texture. Cushions made of silk must be dry cleaned. Wool comes from all sorts of animals; however, sheep and goat's wool are the most common types. The texture is soft. Wool is antifungal, antibacterial and not so flammable, but it can be attacked by moths. Leather and suede are from the hide of various animals with cows being the most common. Leather is more durable than suede and is less flammable than other materials.
Polyester, rayon, nylon and acrylics are some of the synthetic fibres used in cushions. Many of these are found as a blend. Since these fabrics are man-made, they are usually resistant to infestations of insects, bacteria and fungus. Many of them in their pure form are uncomfortable in hot temperatures. Polyester and acrylics are favoured when cushions need to be tough and easy to clean, like dining room and outdoor chairs. Other synthetic materials keep costs low. Rayon can be used instead of silk, and vinyl can be made into faux leather.
Fabrics can be processed to extend their durability or beauty. You can get fabrics that are printed in various ways, from roller prints to block prints. To retain the design longer, you can get fabrics with patterns woven into the cloth. Finishes can either enhance the sheen of the material, like the glaze on cotton chintz, or contribute to its durability, like a latex backing on a less durable material. Different woven techniques used will result in different appearances. Non-woven alternatives, such as suede, are available.