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Selection criteria for various Linen items & fabrics suitable purpose


Cost of buying and maintenance

Laundering cost comes next to labour cost. Synthetics require lesser temperature and shorter programs for laundering when compared to cotton. “No iron blends” do not require ironing.

Durability of the fabric

The life expectancy of the fabric should be substantial. This can be achieved by keeping the following in mind:

  1. Thread count: It is the measure of the number of warps and wefts per square inch of fabric. Warp is the thread stretched longitudinally along the length of the loom. The weft is the thread stretched across the width of the loom and is interwoven into the wrap. They are also called the filling. In a high thread count, the shrinkage is considerably reduced and the fabric is comparatively finer and is more durable. Note – fabrics must not only retain their appearance throughout their life but also must be serviceable, easy to maintain and long-lasting.

  2. Tensile strength: It is defined as the number of pounds of pressure that a strip of fabric measuring 3” in length and 1” in width can withstand under controlled conditions of humidity and temperature before it breaks. A higher tensile strength, therefore, implies more stability.

  3. Amount of dressing: It is the starch applied to a material. The even loosely woven material gives the appearance of being firm when starched. To test the amount of starch keep the fabric on a dark surface and rub it with both hands. The starch will fall like flakes. Higher the amount of flakes poorer the fabric.

  4. Elasticity and Resilience/ Crease resistance: Elasticity of fibre is the ability to come back to its original length after tension is removed. Resilience is the ability of the fibre to provide crease resistance. The resiliency of fibre is its ability to resist compression. Both elasticity and resiliency will provide some sort of crease resistance to a fabric.

  5. Abrasive resistance: It is the resistance of the fabric to surface wear and tear and it can be measured by the number of rubs that a particular fabric can take before weakening.

  6. Shrinkage resistance: It is how much the particular fabric shrinks after the first/ second wash the shrinkage resistance should be high for all the fabrics. The preferable shrinkage should be 1-2 % and in cotton 5 %.

  7. Colour: The following points should be taken care of:

    • Bleeding of colour – When colour runs on coming in contact with water or chemicals.

    • Cracking - When colour runs onto a surface due to friction. In both cases, the problem arises due to the usage of non-fast colours/dyes or due to improper methods of dying. Fabrics dyed at the yarn stage (VAT Stayed) are definitely more colour fast than one dyed at the fabric stage. Dyed natural fibres will fade after several washes. Fabrics must be checked for dye stability. Colourfast fabrics must be used which do not fade away on exposure to sunlight/chemicals and whose colours do not bleed/run or crack. * Dark colour fabrics show dust and light colour fabrics show dust and stains easily. These will be less apparent in a medium toned fabric. * Colours chosen must be easily available when replacements are required. * In hotels and hospitals normally white coloured bed linen is used a give a better appearance of cleanliness and as easy to maintain and sterilize.

8. Method of construction: The fabric can be knitted, woven or bonded. A woven fabric is most durable and most common. The method of construction, the type of surface, appearance and fall of the fabric are to be considered while selecting the fabric. The closer the weave lesser will be the shrinkage. The weave must be balanced one example 96/94. 96/70 is an unbalanced weave and it shows that is a loose weave.

9. Weight of the fabric: Lighter the fabric. Easier to handle and takes less time to dry. This is particularly true for bed and table linen as these are handled and worked frequently. For soft furnishings, the heavier fabric is preferred as they are better for durability, texture and fall. The weight of the fabric may be expressed in ounces/yard or pound/yard. Example Bed linen is 36 ounces/yard.

10. Width of the fabric: 4 standard widths i.e. 1 meter (36”) 1.3 meter (48”) 1.5 meter (54”) and 1.6 meters (60”) are widely used out of which 48” is the most commonly used.

11. Thermal properties: Whether the fabric is cool/ warm, the criteria are taken in mind depending on the area and purpose of use. It also gives an indication of the laundering temperature.

12. Flames retardancy: Wool is a naturally flame retardant. Synthetic fibres which are made flame retardant are available. They can be used for drapery, upholstery and carpets.

13. Resistance to pests: Mildew is a type of fungus that causes stains especially on cotton and linen. Moth larvae, on the other hand, eat into the cloth so cloth should be resistant to these pests.

All samples must be tested before placing an order. Samples are tested by:

  • Rubbing the material between hands or over a darker surface to see the amount of starch falling from it.

  • Looking at the material under a magnifying glass to see the closeness & smoothness of the weave.

  • Checking the selvedge & corners.

  • Laundering the samples a number of times & checking the quality.

  • Samples may be sent for chemical treatment.

Selection criteria for various Linen Items

Each individual piece of linen requires special consideration in terms of quality, type and size.

BED LINEN

Bedsheets

  • Should have a good finish, usually with a slight lustre, and be made from a non-crease fabric so as to retain its appearance. For comfort, the texture should be soft and smooth, absorbent and free from static. They should be easily launderable and the fabric should not lose colour in repeated washes.

  • Superior quality bedsheets made from linen or union (a combination of cotton and linen) are expensive and not easily available. Cotton is absorbent, less expensive and is capable of withstanding extremely hot washes. Cotton may be Percale or Muslin. More frequently used are combinations of natural and man-made fibres like polyester cotton or terry-cot. Blending with man-made fibres offsets the disadvantages of the natural fibre. The introduction of a man-made fibre increases durability and makes laundering easier, but some of the absorbency is lost. 65% of cotton and 35% man-made combinations are the best. Blended no-iron sheets must be folded while still warm from the tumbler to eliminate creasing.

  • The crinkle sheet or night sheet is made from cotton seersucker.

  • A sheet should be large enough to be tucked in securely all around the mattress. The width of the fabric is dependent on whether the bed is single or double. When cutting the length of fabric for the bedsheet, it is necessary to make a provision for:

  • Fitted sheets are unpopular as they have more disadvantages than advantages.

Pillowcases

  • These are generally made from the same fabric. The housewife tuck-in type is now rapidly being replaced by the longer bag-type which are folded in at the open end. In order to calculate the amount of material required to stitch a pillowcase, it is necessary to measure the circumference of the pillow and add on 2 to 4 inches to allow for shrinkage and a perfect fit.

Blankets

  • These need to adhere to the body in order to provide warmth. In order to be comfortable, they should be soft, smooth and resilient and not too heavy. Though expensive, pure woollen blankets that are napped are ideal in this respect, but they are difficult to launder and are attacked by insects. To cut costs, improve launderability and prevent attack by insects, wool is often blended with a synthetic fibre (acrylic) and the percentage of woollen fibre is mentioned on the label. A less durable alternative is made from nylon fibres electrostatically flocked on polyurethane (fibre lock)

This is suitable for those who are allergic to wool. Electric Blankets are uncommon as they are difficult to maintain and anchor to prevent pilferage. Moreover, persons who suffer from phobias would opt for the ordinary blanket.

SOFT FURNISHINGS

Duvets

  • Duvets have become increasingly popular in hotels and are fast replacing the blanket, especially on double beds. They consist of a filling sandwiched or stitched in a fabric case with a changeable cover.

  • The fillers may be duck/goose down, a feather mix or a combination of the two. The down feathers are the small, fluffy feathers from beneath the wings and the breast of the fowl. Goose down is superior and lightweight because of the hollow quills. The well-known Eider goose and Siberian goose down are the best. Although they are warmer, professional cleaning is necessary and they are heavier and more expensive than their synthetic counterparts. The synthetic filling is usually polyester fibres. These duvets are lighter and can be washed in large-capacity washing machines. Casings can be cotton cambric or synthetic fabric but must have a close weave to keep the filling in place. The higher the tog value or rating, the warmer the duvet will be. 10.5 is the average tog rating. While the polyester fibre-filled duvets have a tog between 8 and 11, the best down duvets have a count between 11 and 14. The tog rating is generally printed on the duvet. Even if the establishment uses natural fillings to provide the best degree of comfort, a small stock of duvets filled with man-made fibres should be made available for anyone who has an allergy to the natural product.

  • It is essential for the duvet to have an outside cover. Changing a duvet cover is a skill which is developed with practice. To save laundry costs and labour, it is advisable to provide a covering sheer in conjunction with the duvet cover. Though it is common to have all of them in white, the duvet cover, the bottom sheet and valance could be part of the colour scheme of the guest room.

  • Using a duvet in hotel bedrooms has advantages and disadvantages

Bedspread/Bedcover/Counterpane

  • These are purchased, considering appearance, durability and size. The colour and print should match the décor, and soil should not show easily. The weave should not be susceptible to snagging. The fabric should drape well and not crease easily (quilted for this purpose). The durability of the fabric is judged by the effect of laundering and constant use. The life expectancy may be totally disregarded in order to meet with a certain decorative colour scheme. Readymade bedcovers lack individuality so they are usually stitched and a number of styles are possible. Bedcovers should be interchangeable wherever possible. The amount of fabric required to stitch a single bedspread is approx. 8 metres.

Curtains/Draperies

  • These are also purchased considering appearance, durability and size. Sheer curtains/net curtains/glass curtains combined with heavy draperies are usual in a guest room. This combination allows light to pass through and facilitates privacy as well. Sheer curtains are generally made from synthetic/blended net or lace or from plain nylon or terylene. It is advisable to use a fire-resistant finish or fabric for these curtains. Draperies are usually lined. Lined curtains are thicker, fall better and allow less light to pass through. They are less likely to fade, soil-less easily and thereby last longer. When selecting the curtains, the appearance is judged by ensuring that the colour and pattern match the décor; viewing the fabric hanging and gathered in folds; viewing the fabric with daylight behind it; viewing the fabric with artificial light falling on it. It is also advisable to select patterns which are repetitive after shorter lengths to reduce wastage when stitching wide curtains. The amount of material required is dependent on the window treatment and 15 metres is the average requirement. A heavy fabric is usual for public areas and a lighter one in the guest rooms.

Cushion Covers and Upholstery

  • Like the rest of the soft furnishings, these must also match the décor. It is also important that they are resistant to dirt, accumulation of dust and snagging. The fabric should be non-slip without being rough and free from static so that it does not cling to customer’s clothes. It also should not lose lint or colour easily.

  • Cushion covers should be launderable and non-crease. Upholstery fabrics should not stretch after they have been fitted. In both cases, the fabric should be firm with a close weave. This, however, is more applicable in the case of upholstery and in most cases, the fabric has a jute backing.

BATH LINEN

Requires being gentle on the skin, with a high degree of absorbency and lint-free. Linen or cotton are the fibres from which the towels are made. The weave may be a Dobby weave which is used to make a fabric called Huckaback, that is often used for face towels and sometimes hand towels. Bath towels are invariably made from Turkish towelling using a pile weave known as the Terry weave.

The loops of the towels should be at least 1/8” high for good absorbency. When selecting Turkish towels hold them against the light out find out how close the basic weave is. Coloured and patterned towels may be selected for public areas like the swimming pool, health club or beauty parlour, largely for identification. White towels are preferred to coloured ones.

NAPERY

Table linen

The fabric selection is largely dependent on its launderability. Stain removal should be possible and it must have the ability to retain colour and shape. As far as appearance is concerned, it should match the décor and have a lustre for a good finish. The fabric should be preferably non-slip, as all restaurant tables do not have a baize top. Linen is better than cotton but very expensive. Starched cotton casement is commonly used. The fabric considered ideal for table linen is Damask. The pattern is highlighted by using lustrous yarns. Blends are unsuitable as the linen cannot be starched for the ‘crisp’ effect. Also, the resins present in blends attract grease, making oil stains difficult to remove and often these resins break down when exposed to the heat in the tumble dryer. Tablecloths should hang 9” over the edge of the table. Sizes vary according to the size of the table. If they are to be stitched, then an allowance should be made for 5% shrinkage along the length. Although is seems that it is only necessary to hem tablecloths at the ends that unravel, it is preferable to hem all four sides so that the article retains its shape.

Moulton’s

Where the dining tables, do not have a baize top attached, this length of baize cloth may be used.

Banquet Frills (Juponé)

These are coloured and lustrous, usually made of satin or rayon which may be plain or patterned. The pleats may be stitched or pleating may be done when draping the table. Varied styles may be used when draping which will affect the length of fabric required. The width of the fabric must correspond to the height of the table.

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