What exactly is suede fabric?
Suede fabric is an exceptional and specific type of leather that is used in all manner of clothing and upholstery projects. The word "suede" comes from the French word for "swine," and it originally referred to the rough, bristly surface of the fabric, as it was thought to resemble the skin of pigs.
The most common type of suede is made from sheepskin, but it can also be made from goatskin or lambskin, but not typically from cow skin. Despite the popularity of cotton and synthetic fabric choices, suede is still widely used around the world today.
At the Yorkshire Fabric Shop, we search far and wide to find the highest-quality suede fabrics in a wide range of colours and styles to suit whatever you need for your next project. Browse our stock online to find the price of each unique style or design per metre.
Where does suede fabric come from?
Suede has been around for centuries; there are records of people wearing shoes made out of suede in 4000 BC. Today it's used in everything from furniture upholstery to women's hats and men's shoes (Alexa, play blue suede shoes).
Back then, the suede fabric was more rugged and bristly, whereas modern fabric is softer and more pleasant to touch, though still maintains a good standard of durability.
These days suede fabric is a lot softer and less bristly to the touch, so the name isn't really the best fit, but it's a few thousand years old to change that! Sometimes it is referred to as suede leather, as it is essentially a type of leather, made from the underside of animal hides.
Suede is extremely durable and flexible, so it's often used for clothing items like jackets, gloves (sometimes called gants de suede) and smart shoes. It's also popular due to it being easy to clean and not susceptible to showing stains easily.
These benefits make it a popular fabric request, which is why we stock it in such a wide range of styles on the Yorkshire Fabric Shop website.
These attributes make suede a popular and affordable choice for all different types of projects from indoor furniture, to outerwear, purses and bags which are often exposed to the elements.
What is the difference between nubuck and suede leather?
Nubuck and suede are often confused because of their similar appearance and feel to the touch. Like suede, nubuck is another soft material based on the grain of animal skin, similar to standard suede.
The difference is that nubuck is sanded for smoothness so it doesn't have the bristled, longer-haired appearance. In terms of the animals that they come from, nubuck fabrics are usually crafted from cowhide, and suede is more typically from sheep, goats or lambs.
Both nubucks and suede have no natural waterproofing, however, this can be treated at home to make the fabrics waterproof. For example, Timberland boots are famously made from nubuck, and as worker boots, they are often exposed to the elements, so they are treated by the manufacturer in advance.
Suede is often paired with leather fabric in garment-making too. The suede finish is usually on the outside of an item, but it can be used on the inside as well. For example, some jackets are made with both suede and leather on the outside, with suede on the inside.
What is faux suede fabric?
You might have seen clothing or upholstery items made from faux suede fabric when out shopping, and been surprised when you read the label to see that it wasn't genuine.
At first glance it can seem very similar to genuine suede fabric in appearance, but on closer inspection the differences will be noticeable in the details.
Faux suede fabric is made from synthetic polyester as opposed to from animal hides, so the grain does not naturally go in one direction. This means that when you rub the fabric one way both the look and texture will be different to if you rub it the other way.
Usually this type of material is dyed in a tan or light brown colour to mimic the typical aesthetic of genuine suede, as polyester doesn't go through the regular tanning process.
In general, faux suede is usually much less durable than real suede, making it much less resistant to everyday use and wear and tear.
What are the different types of suede fabrics?
It's interesting to see the ways in which animal hide is used by leather manufacturers to produce so many different types of fabric, but let's focus on the many benefits and attributes of suede in particular.
Out of all of the leather products made from animal hide, suede is so soft and luxurious that is definitely one of the most versatile, which is why we began selling specialised suede fabric to cater for the needs of particular fabric projects more accurately.
Let's take a look at the categories of suede material that we have in stock at the Yorkshire Fabric Shop.
Contract grade and fire resistant suede fabric
Sometimes the smooth delicate touch and feel of suede fabric can make it the perfect choice for a more luxurious finish, which is why it's a popular choice for use in business.
Suede is also easily washed when dirty, which can also make it appealing for use in hotels, restaurants, or anywhere that might receive a high footfall.
We treat all of our contract grade suede to Crib 5 standard, meaning that it conforms to commercial standards and is suitable for use in the hospitality sector. This doesn't affect the texture of the fabric but makes it safer to use in these settings.
If you've found a pattern or colour that isn't on the contract section of our website, feel free to get in touch with our support team, as we can treat any suede fabric to Crib 5 upon request.
Suede fabric for curtains
Good quality curtains always cost a lot of money, which is why many creatives are opting to buy their own suede fabric to make curtains with. Often the most popular colours are neutral tans and browns, which offset lighter, whiter walls.
Whether you want thick or thin curtains, wide or slim, we can help you with the calculations to make sure you get the right amount of fabric for your project.
Suede curtains give off a delicate, warm and homely air to any room that they're used in. As the quality of our suede is second-to-none, we can help you put the cherry on top of that perfect room, even if that cherry happens to be emerald green!
Furnishing and upholstery suede
Because suede is so pliable, it's a very popular material for upholstery and furnishing projects. The durability of suede means that it is very long-lasting and strong, hence why it's used for outdoor accessories like gloves.
We sell the highest-quality fabric specifically designed for use in furnishing projects, whether that be upscaling an antique chair or revamping a well-loved piece that looks a bit tired.
Sustainable suede fabric options
Sustainable suede is made in partnership with farmers who practise sustainable farming with the animals that they raise, which is better for the local ecosystem and the planet.
We have started to expand our network to include sustainable suede options on our web store, and we're working hard to get more options on the way. Sustainable options will be just as soft and luxurious, made to the same high-quality as our standard options.
Coloured suede fabric - getting the material you want
Because suede fabric can be used for so many applications, it makes sense that it's sought after in many different colours and shades.
Even though we stock lots of different specialised types of suede, we are able to apply specific treatments to our whole range of fabric. This includes:
Flame Retardant Treatment - so that the fabric can resist heat and flames
Soil and Stain Treatment - to help the fabric repel stains from dirt or elsewhere
Waterproof Treatment - typically for clothing, so that it doesn't get damaged by water
Contract Crib 5 Flame Retardant Treatment - to abide to commercial regulations
FInally, if you've had a look at our page and still think you're after something more specific in terms of pattern or colour, or you want some advice for sizings like how many metres you'll need, use our contact page to get in touch.