Retro upholstery fabric with gold thread — and “frieze” vs. “boucle”

upholstery fabric with gold thread

One of our favorite vintage, mid-century style upholstery fabrics is what I believe was called a “frieze” — prounced “free-zay”. Definition found by Susan:

  • Frieze – a pile surface of uncut loops or of patterned cut and uncut loops.

Typically (from what I *think* I’ve seen and read) frieze was done in a single field of color, like in all those old Kroehler sofas — see photo after the jump.

Another popular upholstery fabric was a “boucle”. Gavin pointed this one out:

  • Boucle —  a fabric of uneven yarn that has an uneven knobby effect
The fabric shown above (the three samples) is a boucle.
sofa with frieze style upholstery

Someone on the blog once told us this type of nubbly upholstery was called "frieze". It was very common -- it's the kind where the design is made out of "loops of thread" and the overall effect is kind of stiff and scratchy.

In either case the real popper was when there was a gold thread running through the upholstery fabric. We also saw this gold-thread effect in drapery fabrics like the gorgeous vintage Waverly barkcloth “Spring Frolic”, and my vintage Waverly “Las Vegas” cloth “Caprice.” When I was reupholstering my two vintage Baker loveseats about five years ago, I looked in about 2,698 fabric books to see if I could find something to replicate the vintage frieze or boucle look – alas, not. Now, I’ve just heard from reader Cliff, who points to three glittery boucles from Beacon Hill that might just do the trick.

beacon hill flashpoint fabric in beigeCliff wrote:

Here are a few fabrics that have the “sparkly” threads running through them that I think you are looking for:
Manufacturer: Beacon Hill
Pattern Name: Flashpoint
Colors: Beige Shimmer, Copper, and Silverscreen

Manufacturer: Maxwell
Pattern Name: Indulgence – Smokescreen
Color: #50 Treasure

The glittery threads don’t necessarily show up too well in the online photos, but I got swatches of all of these and they definitely sparkle. Covered 2 lounge chairs in the Flashpoint “Beige Shimmer” and they look great.

upholstery fabric with gold threads beacon hill flashpoint in copperReaders, these fabrics do not appear to be cheap. I found Flashpoint online at some discount fabric stores, and the cost was more than $100 per yard — which is not unusual, I believe, for a high-quality upholstery material. Idea: When I had my loveseats reupholstered, I ordered my fabric through a local discount fabric store — in my case, Osgoods.  I think this saved me something like 40% off the retail price. My fabric wasn’t QUITE $100 a yard, but as I recall, it still was expensive, and I needed a lot of yardage. For this reason, I personally felt better ordering my fabric from a bricks-and-mortar store, so that I could deal with them personally in case there were any issues (which there weren’t.) Basically: Do your homework in terms of where to buy.

upholstery with a gold thread running through it beacon hill flashpoint

Of course, I wish this “Flashpoint” fabric came in a wider variety of colors — and in some “real” colors. When I get a chance, I’ll hunt down a big store with lots and lots and lots of upholstery books where I can look for more recommendations for fabrics with gold threads. To be sure, I think there are A LOT more upholstery fabrics with a mid century modern vibe out there today than there were 8 years ago, when I needed to reupholster my loveseats. Sigh. Me want gold slubbies.

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Comments

  1. Susan, aka Kitty Mommy says

    Maybe this will help…from http://www.merriam-webster.com: frieze–a pile surface of uncut loops or of patterned cut and uncut loops. I bought a sectional sofa from eBay that is frieze with silver lurex thread running through it. I love it, but sadly the fabric is deteriorating. I would love to get my hands on fabric like that! I’m not sure if this is quite right…I suppose I could request samples. Thank you for posting this!

    -Susan, aka Kitty Mommy

    p.s. I’d post a photo of my sofa, so you could see what I’m talking about, but not sure how/where to do that!

    • pam kueber says

      duh! Thanks, Susan. I have a post somewhere “upload photos of your sofa” I’ll go look and post it here once I come up for air this morning…

  2. gavin hastings says

    There is something to be learnt everyday at RetroRenovation:
    I would have called this a boucle…(boo-clay) Thanks for the new vocabulary.

    • pam kueber says

      yes, gavin: I think Boucle IS correct — I had forgotten this term until just now when you brought it up — I updated the story. THANK YOU!

      • gavin hastings says

        This fabric reminds me of the “carpeting” from cars in the early 1960’s…..it was usually torquios blue, regardless of the actual body color!

  3. Jason says

    NOW you tell me after I already had my Kroehler sofa reupholstered!!! lol. That was 2 years ago. No harm done. I like my sofa. It is a dark blue with a textured pattern in it. Cost…ALOT!!!! But worth it. Love your website.

  4. Tim of Tomorrow says

    Interesting post!

    I have a 3 piece Mastercraft of Omaha set in the boucle material. It’s varigated brown and tan with both loops and cut thread in a random pattern. It has silver metallic threads weaved into it.

    I didn’t buy the set together. I found all three peices (two chairs and sofa) separately and within days/weeks of each other and from three separate places. And they all match. The sofa was a steal at $50 and it was in absolutely mint condition upholstery wise. The cushions were deteriorated, so the foam was replaced but that is the only repair needed. The chairs were each $9 and $20.

  5. Eldon Daetweiler says

    Great resource (again)! Thank you. I would love to upload my sofa for reader help if you do get the chance to re-post. I have a sofa & matching chair that I haven’t been able to find anything on – both would look amazing in these’s fabrics, as the tapestry-ish floral (original I think) that covers them is getting down to threads.

  6. Eunice says

    Thank you for this info! I have a chair that needs to be re-upholstered and I’ve been looking for the gold glitter in this type of fabric. This just made my day!

  7. says

    I am a frieze fabric hoarder, I admit it. I have 3 cubbies in my studio full of the stuff now. I truly covet it. I’m now and again using it in my projects but it’s hard for me to part with it. What we need is a time capsule store like the tile shop or the lamp store to be found. Stocked with rolls and rolls of new old stock frieze and boucle. It’s true, frieze was used as auto upholstery. I remember my grandfather’s car having it. The Kroehler furniture company made lots of furniture with it too.
    xo, suzy

  8. Lynn-O-Matic says

    Well, I would have pronounced it “freeze,” like the architectural feature. You learn many things here at RR every day!

    I got a 1948 sofa this summer with this type of fabric in a pinkish mocha with gold sparkles. Its shape is kind of transitional between art deco and mid century, not surprisingly. My grandmother’s living room furniture had this same type of fabric, although hers was more of a lavender mocha, so I almost died when I saw the sofa. (My mother thinks it’s ugly. Maybe you need to be a generation removed from your parents’ furniture to appreciate it.) That turquoise couch has been one of my favorites since you first posted it here.

    Thanks for finding this, Pam. I’ll feel more secure next time I consider getting something that has to be reupholstered.

  9. Kat the Gypsy says

    I own a vintage 1960s sectional sofa with fabric like mentioned above. It’s an awesome sofa, but that fabric grips pet hair with a vengeance. It’s impossible to keep it looking fresh and clean, even with the new pet hair remover products out there. So while I love vintage/retro looks, my next sofa will be microfiber or leather.

  10. says

    I love seeing these fabrics!! I would’ve loved to have seen them earlier too since I reupholstered some 1949 chairs a year ago but none-the-less am SO excited to know this it out there!! The chairs were a hideous mauve floral design and I ended up getting them reupholstered with a Knoll fabric that was given to me by the re-upholsterer (gotta love stumbling into a sale!). Anyways there’s a really cool website that has a lot of these fabrics and I figured I’d share! http://www.modern-fabrics.com/

  11. Corraun says

    I am no expert but I am guessing “boucle” is French and means something along the lines of “bounce,” thus the loop thread. I believe “frieze” is perhaps Italian and means frozen, thus the pattern is still and without movement.

  12. Pat says

    We had a pinkish brown sectional couch in that fabric when I was a kid. Can’t say I was crazy about it then, or now. I guess I’m just too close to that century, having lived through it. I like the century before (1940’s), wish I could find a floral print 40’s couch that has survived!

  13. Goldie Harvest says

    I found some of this fabric as long curtains (rich, chocolate brown) at a thrift store for about ten bucks all three panels. Sometimes it pays to hop into a thrift store once in a while, as this is very nice, expensive looking stuff and many people don’t appreciate it.

  14. Amanda says

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I’ve been looking for this type of upholstery fabric for years! I have a chair that my grandparents bought in the late ’40s/early ’50s that was pink with silver threads and a sofa and matching chair with wonderful bones that I bought for $30.00 (for both!) that all need recovered and they all were boucle originally. You’ve made my year with this article!

  15. Jackie says

    does anyone know the price on the flashpoint copper fabric from beacon hill? They seem to only deal with wholesalers and do not sell to individuals and were not forthcoming with pricing when I called. i am trying to pick fabric for my mid century sofas and I really like the flashpoint fabrics that you highlighted. I would like to know where I can get similar fabric, or at least the price on this. Thanks

  16. says

    http://www.smsautofabrics.com/

    They have theee most amazing vintage upholstry fabric and what you are all looking for in every color imaginable. The real thing, with the gold sparkle thread going thru it. I found it by random chance and was soooo excited with the samples they sent me. They also can match and remake any upholstry fabric you currently have.

  17. Jackie says

    Hi I just received my samples of this beautiful fabric. It is very nice, however, I don’t know if it’s that nice!!! It’s $156.50 per yard!!! If you are re-doing a sofa it takes approx. 20 yds. give or take, depending on style. You can do the math. If anybody knows of a similar fabric for half or less of the cost I’m interested. Thanks

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