Want to jazz up my cube with fabric panels, but clueless about fabric
February 15, 2012 8:31 AM   Subscribe

I want to spice up a couple of the panels of my work cubicle, tastefully. I have something like this in mind but I'm looking at different fabrics online and realizing I have no idea what type of fabric to go with (there's printed cotton, faux silk, linen, wovens) or even what category (sold for quilting, apparel, interior decorating purposes etc.). Does anyone know what I should go with? I'm happy to go to a physical store but I want to make sure I know what I'm even looking for in terms of look and feel. I don't necessarily need/want advice about pattern, just type of fabric. Thanks!
posted by lovingkindness to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
You're probably going to want to stretch it over fome-cor panels, so upholstery, drapery, or shirting weight fabrics would probably hold their shapes best. Linen and wovens look nice, but it's tough to keep the threads straight when you're upholstering unless you're very patient. Use some batting underneath the fabric so it smooths out nicely when you're done.

Cool idea, btw.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 8:42 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

In the image in "cube envy pimp my cube," the fabric on the wall seems to be printed cotton. I think something woven and really textural where you have more space on the panel could be good (tactile + fabric = comfy cube). You could pin it vertically.

IMO, I'd go with printed cotton or linen for the panels behind the computer. Perhaps hang something like this.

Another idea is to take a thumb tack and pin a piece of fabric to the panels, so they look like how a scarf would hang on a hook on the wall. Instead of laying out a piece of fabric flat, you could have say 3 of these "scarves" in a row. It could make the space look softer while having the professional panel as a background :-)
posted by ichomp at 8:48 AM on February 15, 2012

Honestly, I wouldn't worry as much about type of fabric. The blog post itself says it was a remnant, so why not dig through the remnant bin and see what jumps out at you?
posted by LN at 8:53 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: After looking at that pic I don't know that you need to necessarily worry about the problems you could face with actual upholstery (though I'm noting that tip down for future reference!) I think you can just get any sort of printed woven, hem it and staple it onto the panels on your cube, assuming they're the type you can jab push-pins in. I would avoid anything with too much stretch, but otherwise you can just go to a fabric store and find something that looks and feels right to you.
posted by brilliantine at 8:57 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I did this in an old cubicle in jersey. It stretches nicely over the panels, but I used a solid color, and patterns with lines might be too stretchy.
posted by xingcat at 9:15 AM on February 15, 2012

Best answer: Your project really has no constraints, no preference for heavy or lightweight fabric, or a need for durability, or washability, or to "hang well" or anything. No constraints, you can just pick anything that looks the way you want it. Depending on what you want, it could be very opaque or somewhat translucent, a straight flat sheet or a little drapey (say, as accent on the original panel), a smooth printed surface or a textured thready look. The one thing you might want to consider (if your cube is near a window) is if the dyes are UV resistant.

All the different fabrics out there have a purpose behind them:
- The reason furniture upholstery fabric is heavyweight, a strong fiber in a dense weave, is that it's designed to be touched and rubbed a lot. Once you get this thing on the wall, you're not going to mess with it, so durability isn't important. But if you see an upholstery fabric you love, it'll work well.
- Curtain fabric is designed to be heavy enough that it hangs straight, and flexible enough that it follows the long vertical curves. It drapes. The "hang" or drape of a fabric is somewhat independent of the thickness (light-weight, heavy-weight). Since you're (probably) just going flat, drape is unimportant. But if you see curtain fabric you love, it'll work well.
- Quilting fabrics are designed to be pretty. (and to match each other prettily) They tend not to drape very well. Pretty things are great for what you want. This is a good choice.
- Faux silk and microsuede are designed to be washable, easy-care versions of luxury materials. You're probably never going to clean this stuff after you hang it, so this is irrelevant, but if you see faux- or real sink you love, get it, it'll work fine. (but be careful of super-delicate things)
- Natural fabrics (cotton, linen, silk) tend to crease or crumple more easily than manmade (polyester, rayon, nylon), which is relevant to how often you have to iron your clothes. A natural fabric traps air, heat, and moisture differently from synthetic, which is also only relevant for clothing.
- Knit things stretch. Some woven things stretch. Most woven things don't stretch (much). Depending on how you're going to attach things, knit might be bad - you'd want to stretch it somewhat tight so it doesn't sag in the middle, which increases the amount of work you'll have to do to hold it around hte edges. Knits aren't likely to be pretty, though. They're hard to print on, so are almost always solid colors. I doubt you'll fall in love with a knit.
posted by aimedwander at 9:21 AM on February 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I think ordinary (woven) printed cotton should be fine for your purposes: it's generally inexpensive, and the "cotton quilting fabric" category has just a dizzying variety of prints to chose from, often with coordinating patterns so you can do large areas in a more subtle motif and accent panels in a bolder, more pictorial print.
posted by drlith at 9:26 AM on February 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thin wood or foam-core, a can of spray mount, any fabric that appeals to you, a saw, and a ruler. If the fabric is thick, you might need an actual glue-gun, but anything like sheets should stick fine with the spray mount.
posted by rhizome at 10:28 AM on February 15, 2012

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