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2024 Outdoor fabric

 Broken record here, but it’s that time of year again. It’s coming on fast this year, too, I do believe.

Anyway. If you have outdoor cushions, curtains, or covers for the bar-b-que, bicycle, or even motorcycle covers, it’s time to make sure they are still good for another summer season.

 Do you know that the sun here is as strong and as damaging as the sun in Phoenix, Arizona? Yes, we know the sun here is brutal, but what does that mean for your outdoor fabric?

 So, what do you do to prevent this? 

 It bleaches the fabric. Just like bleach on regular fabric, the sun destroys the integrity of fibers and they disintegrate. Literally fall apart. A client down some 100% cotton curtains that had been hanging for one summer season, washed them, and they fell apart. Pile of threads. 

 I put a roll of blue cotton piping I’d made on the floor inside a north-facing window, which had an awning on it, for 24 hours, and the sun bleached the top layer to brilliant yellow.

 If your pieces are outside at all, even under the eaves, on the north side of the building, or never in direct sunlight, they will STILL be subject to sun damage. If there is light, there is damage happening.

 Here are four things you need to look for:

 1. The best preventer is to buy good quality outdoor fabric pieces. That means fabric that is stipulated as ‘outdoor’. But beware here. There are very inexpensive fabrics sold that are labeled outdoor but aren’t. Check the following criteria.

 2. Good outdoor fabric is not printed. How do you tell? The design on both sides of the fabric is exactly the same. That means that the threads are dyed, and that means that the dye is part of the actual fiber. Not printed, which means it’s bright on one side and almost white on the other. 

 2. Buy fabric or pieces that have a label that tells what the fabric is. The most common will be the ‘Sunbrella’ label. Sunbrella is the gold standard, although that may be changing. Sunbrella fabrics can be bleached, will not sun-fade for years (there is a guarantee), and are made from solution-dyed acrylic fibers. Another good outdoor product is ‘Revolution’. Several established fabric distributors like Schumacher and Kravet are producing outdoor fabric now too and a totally new outdoor fiber is coming onto the market this year, I believe. 

 If you are having cushions or covers made, ask for proof that the fabric is outdoor. The invoice from the supplier will state Sunbrella, or the type of outdoor fabric, the invoice from the sewer will indicate that, too.

4. Buy fabric or pieces that have clear laundering instructions. Laundering outdoor fabric is pretty easy, typically. Warm wash, hang to dry. DO NOT IRON. Sunbrella can be bleached. You may think that these fabrics are expensive, but the fact that they can last 10 or more years outdoors without sun damage brings the per season cost down a whole lot. 

 If you think you might need to have new covers made, call me. Let’s talk.

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