Q&A: Kate Lluberes on fabrics

Kate Lluberes
Jul 19, 2018

Kate Lluberes runs Evans & Sheldon, a boutique fabric studio in Georgetown that sells fabrics to designers. She opened her own studio in 2014 after working in textile showrooms for almost 30 years. She represents artisanal lines and sells to decorators who rely on her expertise and taste. Ask Kate your questions about combining patterns, upholstery, care of fabrics and what's the latest news in fabric design.

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Kate Lluberes loves fabrics. She runs Evans & Sheldon, a boutique fabric studio in Georgetown that sells to designers. Kate opened her own studio in 2014 after working in textile showrooms for almost 30 years. She represents artisanal lines and sells to decorators who rely on her expertise and taste. Ask Kate your questions about combining patterns, upholstery, care of fabrics and what's the latest news in fabric design. Let's chat.

Good morning, everyone! I'm so happy to be here with you all today! 

I love your name and your brand! Where do the names Evans and Sheldon come from?

Thank you! When I started Evans & Sheldon I knew I wanted to pay tribute to my family. "Evans" is my maiden name, and "Sheldon" is my grandmother's maiden name. 

Is it possible to have an off white couch that stands up to heavy use? What fabrics and brands would you recommend. If not, what other color would work with lots of colorful throw pillows?

I love white fabrics mixed and matched with bright, bold pillows. For everyday use, I would recommend using solution-dyed acrylic fabrics - several of the lines I represent offer these. 

Do you think linen is a good fabric to use for slipcovers?

Yes, although another possible option is a union cloth, which is a blend of cotton and linen. It tends to get a little less wrinkled! 

What has been the most rewarding part of owning your own business?

Love this question! When I first got started, I would have never imagined I could be where I am today, representing so many beautiful, versatile lines. But like with any adventure, I had to start small and build my way up. It has been such an incredible journey. I think my favorite part of running Evans & Sheldon is the opportunity to work with artists who are committed to their craft. It's an honor.

Do you have any recommendations for fabrics that will hold up well for dog owners?

Solution-dyed acrylics are the way to go! Look for high rub counts for abrasion tests. 

Is cotton okay to use for re-upholstery? Or should you go with one of the poly blends?

Cotton is fine but you may want to knitback it, which gives the fabric more stability and durability. 

How did you first get into design?

I've always had a passion for art and interior design. I majored in art and art history in college. When the Washington Design Center was still under construction back in the 1980s, I walked around to every showroom, giving out my resume. I fell in love with the combination of selling beautiful fabrics and helping designers achieve their goals.


What are the benefits to reupholstering vs. buying new?

If you like the piece and it has good bones, re-upholstery is a great option! 

Just wanted to post my article on black toilets in case you missed it.

How do you feel about this trend I spotted at the 2018 Kips Bay Show House?



What does "knitback it" mean

It's a process by which the back of the fabric is adhered to another fabric to strengthen it. 

Welcome Kate! I bought this sofa from Crate and Barrel last year. I need to find a loveseat and chairs to go with it but have no idea what to pick so it isn't too blinding in my living room. What colors and styles would look good with it? https://images.crateandbarrel.com/is/image/Crate/TorinoSofaGrooveLagoonSHF16_16x9/?$web_zoom_furn_hero$&160607163019&wid=1008&hei=567 Thanks!

For design questions like these, I always think the best route is to hire a designer. Mistakes are common - and expensive! It pays to get professional help. 

What fabrics are prone to "pilling?"

Some wools and angoras...and other fabrics that tend to be "fuzzier," so to speak. 

My living and dining areas are an open space in a very small townhouse (the kitchen is a separate room). I need area rugs for both areas. Do you have any advice for mixing and matching if I don't want to put the same area rug in each space? The wall color is the same, the floors are oak hardwood.

Hire a designer! :) There are so many brilliant, talented designers in D.C. to choose from who can really help with these sorts of design challenges. It's hard to put the pieces together, but designers can help.

What do you suggest for alcove windows in the dining room of our 1925 Spanish Colonial Revival home? We need to control the intense light and Texas temperatures, and the windows are flanked by twisted columns, so we don't need the drapery to be a focal point. DL

Sounds beautiful! I love Spanish Colonial homes. But I live in D.C. and understand the heat. I would recommend a drapery that has a blackout lining. Make the color a solid neutral so it doesn't distract from the columns. 

Hi, I expect that some readers can't afford a designer to ask about what goes with a colorful sofa. Do you have books or websites to recommend to help those readers?

I myself get so much inspiration from magazines. My favorites are Traditional Home, Veranda, House Beautiful, Southern Home, and our local Home and Design! I also LOVE Pinterest. 

I recently moved into a house that was built in 1970. The previous owner painted the brick fireplace white. I don't dislike it necessarily, but I was thinking of switching it up. Is there a way to strip the paint off of the brick? Or is my only option to paint it a different color?

Yes, it can be sand-blasted! There are also great paint strippers you can use that are pretty easy to find.

Hi Kate, I have a chair that I really love but the fabric is stained and fraying. I have never DIY reupholstered before but would like to do so and keep the chair. I'm a basic sewer, good with straight lines (!) and have made drapes for our home. Can you recommend an online resource (videos?) or a book that I can learn from to try and reupholster this chair myself?

There's a great Martha Stewart chair upholstery how-to guide! It's on her website :).

Hi Kate: I know you only sell to designers. Any suggestions for where area consumers can buy good fabrics? The Washington area seems to have lost a lot of fabric stores.

I really like the Kellogg Collection! They have wonderful options.

I want to re-upholster a camelback, roll arm, three cushion sofa to go in my living room. Want to keep room semi-formal, but comfortable. Room mostly empty now, but with some dark furniture, and want white or neutral color on sofa. What kind of fabric do I look for that is not too casual or too formal?

For this, I might suggest a velvet or a tightly woven chenille. These are great for family/casual spaces! 

Hi. I'm in the market for new towels. Any recommendations on the best places and/or brands? Thanks!

I love Pottery Barn or Garnet Hill! Home Goods is always a great place to look, too.

Good morning all, I'm sorry this question isn't exactly on-topic, but could you give suggestions for organizing books when one is overrun by them? We don't have the space for multiple large bookcases, but surely there's another way to display/organize them. Right now they're either stored in plastic tubs or piled on the floor. I'd like them accessible so we can actually read them, but neat, so they're not just dust catchers. I've done some googling, but don't see any examples that deal with the sheer number that we've accumulated over the years. Any ideas would be appreciated. Thank you!!

I love to read and watch movies and find myself running into the same problem with space! I find lots of inspiration from Pinterest in terms of finding creative ways to store and display books - don't be afraid of installing shelves, using contemporary vertical bookcases, or even stalking books on the floor. That might not seem "sophisticated," but I find it always adds a really homey vibe. 

What's the best way to clean an outdoor cushion that has pollen, bird droppings etc on it?

If it's an outdoor fabric, a strong hose and bleach will do the trick! 

I am trying to figure out what to put over a relatively high mantle in a living room. There is already a lot of colorful artwork in the room and a colorful rug. I love the idea of a beautiful mirror. Would it be strange to put a mirror there given that it will be too high for anyone to actually see themselves in it?

No, not at all! A mirror is always nice in a room - even if no one can seem themselves, it reflects the light very nicely. Mirrors can also add a ton of character.

Hi there, I'm curious, if one does not have a background in design, but has ideas for fabric designs, how does one get started in making the design a reality?

Great question! I can put you in touch with local vendors who have experience starting lines themselves! 

You work with a lot of designers who are doing interesting window treatments. My question is; What style of curtain is stylish right now for living room windows that are floor to ceiling?

Panels on rods are always a wonderful - and popular! - option. It adds something to the space without obstructing the window frame/blocking the natural light.

For the chatter who wanted to do his/her own reupholstering: a few years ago, I took a non-credit class in upholstering offering by my local community college. All the students brought their chairs and fabric with them to the class, which was held at a local vo-tech school. It would have been difficult to bring a sofa!

Indeed! Does anyone know of great classes in the area to suggest?

How can you mix patterns without creating a crazy quilt like look? I like wallpaper, print upholstery and a patterned rug. Where do you start and how many colors should you try and work with at once?

I think the key to mixing patterns is to vary the scale. So don't go all big or all small. Mix it up! Also, when I'm working with designers, I help them identify fabrics that each share a common or complementary color (even if the fabric features only a little bit of the color in question). 

Can you share a few of your color combinations that you think are stylish and fresh right now?

In talking to my vendors, I'm seeing that greens are on the rise! Also, people are loving pinks in all shades, from very dark to very light. Fun and vibrant prints are also back. People are using more and more prints on things like lampshade and pillows to add color and vibrancy to their rooms!

Thank you all for posing all of your questions today! It's been such a pleasure chatting :). Xo, Kate 

Thank you for being on the chat Kate. Next week we'll have a rug expert  - Nader Bolour owner of high end rug gallery Doris Leslie Blau.  Until then...

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Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily twitter feed @jurakoncius or follow her on Instagram @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering and organizing.

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