Bouclé's Not so Humble Beginnings
In both fashion and furniture, bouclé has navigated in and out of popularity over the years. Today, we see it as a popular fabric choice for chairs, sofas, pillows and even rugs. Bouclé fabrics are made up of fancy yarns bound into a series of loops tightly wrapped around a core yarn. While wool is traditionally the most common fiber makeup of bouclé fabrics, it has become common to see polyester, acrylic, and even rayon/viscose in bouclé construction. Bouclé’s rugged appearance coupled with its soft feel has sustained its demand for so many years and we are happy see it come back into style!
The term “bouclé” comes from the French word for “curled” or “buckled”. First introduced in the late 1940s, Bouclé was born when Eero Saarinen took a designer Florence Knoll’s request for something she could really “curl up in” quite literally. Being the French word for “curled” or “buckled”, the naming of the fabric “bouclé” refers to the loops— whether large circlets or small curls— in the yarn that make up the fabric. Only a few years after the conception of Saarinen’s famous bouclé Womb Chair, world renowned fashion designers such as Coco Chanel brought bouclé into the world of wardrobe.
What Are Bouclé Yarns?
Bouclé yarns have a rough appearance characterized by tight loops projecting from the body of the yarn at fairly regular intervals. This effect can be created by using an outer gimping yarn to gather the core yarn unevenly, leaving the core yarn exposed at intervals (known as a “corkscrew” construction). A similar effect can be achieved by varying the tension between two yarns as they are being twisted together. Bouclé yarn may be used in both the warp and weft or just in the weft also known as the “filling” yarn. In the fabric shown above, the bouclé yarn is made of rayon wrapped around a nylon core yarn. The weft yarns are polyester.
Caring For Bouclé
Bouclé containing polyester and other synthetic fibers such as acrylic or nylon typically clean up very well. However, if your bouclé fabric contains rayon/viscose, even at a low percentage, you would need to be very careful using any cleaning or spotting method that contained water. Rayon/viscose fibers are up to 80% weaker when wet, meaning normal wet methods will inevitably cause flattening of the pile and/or break the loops. For more information on rayon/viscose, click here or here.
If the yarns present an uneven surface, or a surface with loops of yarn, even simple vacuuming of the fabric should be done with caution. Some vacuum systems have upholstery attachments that use revolving beater brushes much like those used for carpet. These brushes are inappropriate for fabrics such as the bouclé. Vacuuming on these types of fabrics should be performed with suction only.
Due to the unique loop texture of bouclé, you may want to keep pets away from your bouclé furnishings since they can easily snag these loops with their claws.
How Fiber-Seal Can Help
With proper care, boucle can last for years. Vacuuming, rotating and flipping cushions and damp dusting are all tools that can effectively add life to these fabrics. The Fiber-Seal Fabric Care System can benefit these fabrics by reducing absorbency, helping to resist permanent staining, and ultimately increasing the useful life of the fabric. Additionally, Fiber-Seal offers a complimentary emergency service in which our trained technicians address spots and spills on your treated fine fabrics.