As summer gets underway, I find my attention being drawn to the subject of outdoor fabrics:
Lets start with the traditional deckchair: designed with stormy seas and unpredictable British summers very much in mind, this humble piece of furniture is a textbook example of smart eco-design. Easy to put up, easy to collapse and crucially, easy to store when inclement weather prevails, the deckchair is not designed to stay outdoors for long.
So deckchair canvas is usually made from 100% cotton, tightly woven to the precise width of the sling (usually 420 - 455mm or 17 - 18 inches) with a sturdy selvedge edge that won't give under duress - and doesn't need to be hemmed. Because it is cotton, the sling will 'give' comfortably under the weight of an occupant. However, the downside is that the brightly coloured cotton stripes WILL fade and eventually rot if the deckchair is left outdoors for any length of time.
But, and this is where the design gets even smarter: Due to its nifty no-sew construction, a faded or ripped deckchair canvas can be replaced and restored in a matter of minutes with little more than a hammer and a handful of tacks. Make-do and mend was never so easy!
And while there was once a time when every hardware store in the land stocked a roll or two of deckchair stripe, its good to know that, particularly since the advent of the internet, deckchair canvas is still alive and well and kicking out a seemingly limitless array of stripes.
Deckchair canvas in Acrobatics (on the chair), Waltzing (from the vintage collection) and Hip Hop from Deckchairstripes.com
If your tastes run to something a little more sober and subtle, Ian Mankin, the go-to company for all-things striped has a range of deckchair canvas:
Ian Mankin's Vintage Stripe 2 Peony and Wicket Stripe Indigo.
Meanwhile, if you really need to defy the weather, and leave your deckchairs standing, The Southsea Deckchair Company supply solution-dyed acrylic deckchair slings (complete with tacks!) that are fade-proof and water-resistant and therefore suitable for all-weather marine and contract applications:
So there we have it - the great British deckchair: intended for sunshine, but coping admirably with common old weather.