On online upholstery & Ikea fabrics

My love affair with upholstery fabrics began at quite a young age, when my mother chose richly patterned Laura Ashley and William Morris fabrics to decorate the house in which we lived when I was small, before we moved overseas. Later, when I was a teenager, she would leave fabric samples around the house for days as she tried to finalise a decision about a curtain fabric or chair covering for her work room (she worked from home as a homoeopath). I remember visiting the furnishing department at Liberty with her to choose a beautiful voile to have as a half curtain...we spent hours deciding upon just the right fabric and, years later, this voile now lives in the window of my own house, having been handed down to me.

It was only when I moved to London and began rescuing chairs from skips to reupholster myself that I began to visit the upholstery department of John Lewis alone and felt the heart-racing excitement of looking through books of richly coloured chenilles and fabric be-stripped, be-spotted and be-flowered with colour and texture and experienced the delight that comes in dreaming of a new identity for a room, deciding upon it's mood and feel. It's a prospect that's always thrilled me: the idea that one can has the power to determine all these things and create transformation (although no amount of delight has ever given me quite the level of bravery I crave to bring to life the ideas that are in my head which are saturated in far more colour than my own home. Having said that, I still swoon over my rather conservative bathroom blinds every single day).

When Curtains made Simple first began sponsoring my blog several months ago, they were mainly in the business of making curtains, cushions, beanbags and other soft furnishings to order (which those who don't sew may love to investigate further...and even those who do sew, for making curtains is actually my least favourite sewing task). However, they've recently made the hundreds of fabrics they stock available to purchase online for home sewers, so that you can make your own soft furnishings.

Or even use their fabrics to make bags of various kinds:

The above fabrics are all from the Cabbages and Roses range
I love the added dimension of textural and tactile appeal that upholstery fabrics offer. However, perhaps one of the most exciting things that you may discover is that Curtains Made Simple are a source of much coveted Ikea fabrics, including their sought-after linen range Aina. The linen that I've used in all of my patterns and tutorials has been Ikea's Aina and so I can attest to it's loveliness - it offers colours that are sufficiently neutral to offer a wonderful backdrop to brighter quilting fabrics (Curtains Made Simple offer Aina in Bleached, Black, Grey and Natural - I'm assuming the linen I've been using in the natural, but CMS may be able to clarify this for you if you're interested). I live a motorway journey away from Ikea, so the idea that their fabrics can finally be posted to me is quite wonderful.

Initially, I found the Curtains Made Simple shopping basket a little confusing to use, although once I'd worked out how to use it properly I realised it works perfectly for browsing before you buy purposes. To save you the strokey beard moment, I shall outline how it works here:

1. Go to the 'buy fabrics' section
2. Narrow by type/range/texture/pattern if you wish
3. When you see a fabric you like click on the + button - it will then be added to a list of favourites on the left-hand-side of the website.
4. If you wish to buy any fabric, simply click on the photo of it in your favourites list. When the larger photo of it appears you can then scroll down and add the quantity which you would like to add to your shopping basket.

If you haven't sewn with upholstery weight fabrics before, you'll find them more expensive than quilting weight cottons. However, they're perfect for making small accessories with even if you don't wish to buy vast swathes of fabric for curtain-making. I love using them to make cushions with and over the years I've made innumerable doorstops from them (you can find my own doorstop sewing pattern here, if you're interested).

Florence x


  1. Aina is one of my favourite fabrics too. I used to live within walking distance of an Ikea and have quite a stock built up from sales and remnant. It's nice to know you can get it posted now I'm a 40 min drive from the nearest branch. I hate making curtains too.

  2. ooh. Lovely. I've made lots of cushions and bags, and even some curtains. Once made a slip cover for an old sofa. (Never again). However, the fabrics still excite me.

  3. I've got a couple of stunning silk (and linen?) upholstery samples that my grandmother dug out of a cupboard for me last time I visited her, and I think at least one of them needs to be made into a little bag/purse. Good to know that if, for some unforeseeable reason, a need for linen one day threatens to make me break my 'IKEA - Never Again' pledge (3 years and counting!), I can buy it online instead. I've been thinking about your doorstop pattern; how do they work on smooth hard floors?

  4. I am with you on the curtain making - I consider myself a fairly competent dressmaker, but curtains....NO! All of that crawling around huge expanses of fabric (only ever have full length)...am happy to pay someone else. XX

  5. Thanks for this - I do reupholstery too so I'm off to check out your link!

  6. The Aina is lovely... we don't have that here in Canada so thank you for sharing :)


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Florence x