Gobelin fabric is a fabric which is probably not an option if you think about making clothes. In fabric stores, the Gobelin is stored between decorative and upholstery fabrics and in online fabric stores they are often categorized with interior fabrics. Is it such a good idea to use Gobelin fabric if you want to make a jacket, for example? We answer this question, but first we will tell you everything about Gobelin as a fabric type.
What's in the name?
The word 'Gobelin' comes from a company that once made (hand-woven) tapestries in Paris. The building was called Hôtel Gobelin, which is why the tapestries were called 'Gobelins'. However, another source reports the name comes from the village of Gobelins near Paris, the famous tapestries were made at 'Goeblins'. Regardless, 'Gobelin' fabrics is a fact; the beautiful woven fabrics that used to be made as tapestries for the rich.
The Gobelin fabrics used to be made to insulate cold interior walls and the tapestries often radiated richness. The fabrics were status symbols and could only be seen in noble houses and castles. Later the fabric became affordable for 'the common citizen'. The production became cheaper and the fabrics were produced more as fabric than as tapestry.
Gobelin has several meanings: upholstery fabric, woven hand carpet, old tapestry, the fabric type gobelin, a carpet on the wall, wall coverings, tapestries and a carpet with woven figures. In fact, all these meanings say exactly what the type of fabric is: a woven fabric that is so beautiful that you might as well hang it on the wall.
More than a fabric for furniture
Everyone has probably seen Gobelin fabrics. They are used by pillows, cases, toiletry bags, bags, coats, waistcoats and curtains. As a result, they often categorized as furniture and interior fabrics, decorative fabrics or outdoor fabrics. 'The outdoor fabrics' is incorrect because they are not waterproof or water-repellent. Yet you probably spot the fabric for cushions for garden furniture and camper cushions are often used. This is mainly because the fabric is extremely strong and durable.
The high wear resistance is due to the coarse weaving technique. The fabric is therefore not beautiful at the back and you will always have to feed the fabric or ensure that the back is not visible. The fabric is also often used for curtains, but here it applies again: put a lining against it. In addition, the fabric is quite heavy, so pay attention to this when you are choosing a hang-system for the curtains. But the fabric is therefore more ideal for smaller items such as bags, toiletry bags, cases, glasses cases, laptop sleeves etc. etc.
Most famous is the Gobelin fabric for the enormous versatility of designs. Some designs may seem old-fashioned, but in general they are timeless and sometimes trendy. It is important some designs do not go by the meter but are the so-called: panel fabrics. This means that there is an image woven into the fabric that has a beginning and an end and cannot be interrupted. You buy the fabric per panel. This can vary from half a meter to a larger amount. An example of a panel fabric is, for example, a large image of a Volkswagen van, a horse, a painting or a peacock in a garden.
We list a few designs categories:
Flowers, gardens and roses
The Gobelin fabrics with these themes are often classic, have soft colors and are from a repetitive design to panel fabrics. English roses are common and flowers in combination with birds, wildlife images and leaves. These botanical designs are very popular and sometimes even collector's items!
Geometric designs are 'hot' and exsists of a repetitive design. The designs are from retro to classic and very modern. We especially like the geometric designs with a gold or silver tone through them.
Of course Gobelin fabrics are also sensitive to trends. Think of the trends of owls, skulls, animal skins, Aztecs and flower power designs. There are many fabrics from Volkswagen vans, images of city nameplates and so much more trends that suddenly appear on all types of fabrics.
Classic timeless themes
There are also the classics that will never be 'out' of style: such as books, bookcases, hunting, country life, wines and food & drinks.
Finally, we would like to mention the Vintage designs: images of beautiful hats, the twenties, make-up, shoes, bags, Paris, glamor and Baroque. These vintage fabrics are very nice to make toiletry bags, cases and bags. The images are often not too large and very beautiful in color combinations.
Oh and almost forgot: the annually recurring themes such as Easter, Christmas and the seasons! All timeless designs that you can safely use twenty years later.
Some Gobelin fabrics are even collector's items. On Catawiki you will notice very old tapestries auctioned for thousands of euros. Closer to home, there is a big market for very special Gobelin fabrics. Especially the botanical fabrics and the panel fabrics with scenes in terms of nature, hunting and country life. Sometimes you can come across this in a market or in a fabric store. Take a look under the stacks at the rolls that have been there for some time. These are often hidden treasures!
Gobelin as a fabric
Now you know everything about Gobelin fabrics, but not yet about the composition and properties. Gobelin used to be mainly made of natural silk and wool. Nowadays they are made by machine with synthetic fibers and cotton as a basis, often: from cotton (50%) and polyester (50%). You can easily wash and iron the fabric. Do not use too high temperatures. However, the colors of the designs will not fade like printed canvas and digital prints do, for example. Gobelin actually always stays beautiful if you wash it at 30 degrees.
The properties of Gobelin fabrics are mainly that they are extremely strong, firm and durable. This makes them suitable for upholstery fabrics, bags, cushions and curtains. The designs are often timeless and can last for years. Furniture covered with Gobelin fabrics radiate warmth and durability. They are not investments for just a year or a short-term trend.
Gobelin fabrics are NOT stretchable, NOT flexible and also NOT water-repellent. Please note that if you use outdoor cushions for the garden furniture that you do bring them inside at night.
Clothing, bags and accessories
If you are making clothes from Gobelin: cut extra seams and do not use interfacing. When making a coat, for example, it will then become too thick and stiff. One layer of Gobelin is more than enough. If you really want the front panels a bit firmer, use thin interfacing! Also be aware that the fabric can fray. So cut extra hem and handle it with care.
Gobelin is often used at Sewing courses and training, for example, to learn how to make a toiletry bag with a zipper. The fabric works very well. This is because it is easy to fold and sew. It is a very nice material to learn a lot from. However, it is not a cheap material to practice with. You may be better off practicing beforehand with a canvas.
A Chanel-style jacket from Gobelin?
In principle, this is possible because the fabric is stiff and firm enough to make a blazer or jacket. Make sure you choose a model that is not too fitted but more of a loose-fitting jacket such as a sewing pattern:
Prints and designs in fabrics are not really typical of the Chanel style, but it is still a challenge and something very different to make a Gobelin jacket. If you decide to make this, choose the beautiful black and white fabrics with circles... close to the Chanel style.
Our eternal Gobelin love
We are in love with Gobelin fabric! Once you have worked with Gobelin you will notice that you will buy it more often. Depending on the designs of course ... We have often made things from it such as toiletry bags, clutches, dresses and glasses cases. But also bigger things like sewing machine covers and bigger bags!
Hats and caps
Gobelin is a very nice material for making hats and caps. This is mainly because the fabric is sturdy and stays in shape. However, you do need extra interfacing for hats, so make sure that your sewing machine can handle the thickness of the fabrics. In the examples below, the lining is also made from Gobelin fabric. This is not necessary, you can make the lining in a contrasting or matching color. The advantage is that you need less (expensive!) Gobelin.
Make sure that you cut every curve at the seams on the inside with triangles so that the fabric rounds off nicely. If the fabric isn't really shaping nicely yet, gently press it and use a tailor's ham on the underside.
Gobelin is a very beautiful fabric if you like special designs. The fabric can appear very old-fashioned but also timeless and chic.
Often the fabric is categorized under decorative fabrics, furniture or interior fabrics. It is therefore a bit of a search, especially if the name 'Gobelin' is not used but, for example, woven fabrics or jacquards.
You can make clothes, blazers, jackets, and coats from Gobelin, but make sure that the clothing does not become too thick or stiff. Also keep in mind that the fabric always needs a lining because the back is not beautiful.