Mid century modern and retro upholstery fabrics at discount prices — Maharam, Knoll, Herman Miller & more

Modern-Fabrics-buildingModern Fabrics LogoIf you need to reupholster a piece of vintage furniture, here’s what sounds like a great source for mid century modern style fabrics by major designers at discount prices. We’ve just discovered Modern Fabrics, which  sources up to 1,000 bolts of discarded fabric every week from the excess generated during the manufacture of luxury residential and commercial furniture. They sell this remnant yardage — available in quantities from one yard to 15+ yards — at a discount of 40-60% off the retail price.  Because today’s high-end furniture market is so mid century modern mad, quite a few of the upholstery fabric designs we see on the website look like they would be great for retro upholstery projects. 

Modern Upholstery FabricsFrom the press release:

Since 2007, James and Ewa Powell have been reclaiming designer textiles — not just scraps, but also bolts of leftovers. The Powells, owners of Modern Fabrics, collect and sell these fabrics at a 40 to 60 percent discount through their website (www.modern-fabrics.com) and storefront in Charlotte, NC.

In the early days, the couple found themselves dumpster diving to rescue discarded excess fabrics but today they are exclusive buyers at many outlets. “We’re no longer driving around in our Subaru begging for fabric,” James says. “We’ve forged long-term business relationships and positioned ourselves as a company that wants — and gets — the best fabrics.”

Modern Fabrics sources up to 1,000 bolts of discarded fabric every week from the excess generated during the manufacture of luxury residential and commercial furniture. These fabrics are brand new, immediately ready to be reused for furniture, cushions, craft or interior design projects.

James says, “Some companies, such as Knoll, Maharam and Herman Miller, are ahead of the curve, understanding the importance of showing the provenance of a fabric.”

rolls-of-fabricAt Modern Fabrics, they go to great lengths to ID the fabrics, noting the textile brands, patterns, colorways, collections, fabric content, and origin, making it easier to find fabrics by specific designers, favorite patterns, or old favorites that have been discontinued.

The company operates a 6,000 square-foot shop in Charlotte’s SouthEnd neighborhood and a warehouse in nearby Lincolnton, NC.

We found their website to be well organized and super easy to navigate. Nice!

Good news for anyone looking for high quality mid century modern or retro design upholstery fabric to recover their vintage finds.


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  1. Mary Elizabeth says

    Oh, I’m so going to go to that site today! Keep in mind, those who sew a little but haven’t done actual upholstery, that these fabrics can be given to someone who does that kind of work. I’ve done this process. Get the upholsterer or slip-cover maker to measure your furniture and estimate the labor and amount and type of fabric needed. Then order your fabric with a little left over.

    Also, the smaller remnants can be made into pillow covers, which I have done a lot of. I assume they have drapery fabrics also.

    For those who shop in local fabric remnant stores, usually the name of the manufacturer is printed on the selvage, and usually the fabric content and cleaning instructions are on the end of the bolt.

  2. Erin in Ohio says

    Thank you, James and Ewa, for saving these fabrics! Your brick-and-mortar shop is adorable, but I really want to compliment you on your well-designed website. I can’t wait to find something I need to reupolster!

  3. jeanne says

    What a great resource! Thank you! Fabric and dishes are my weakness. I can never get enough – even though I don’t NEED anymore I always WANT more. I do have two Danish Modern chairs I got from a Salvation Army about 15 years ago and have always wanted to get the seat & backs reupholstered. This will be a great source when I’m ready.

  4. Annie B. says

    What a fantastic resource, not only for finding your perfect vintage upholstery fabric, but also for learning about textile designers, patterns, brands, and the manufacturing process.

    Modern Fabrics is doing for textiles what Replacements is doing for china and what Pam is doing for pink bathrooms. Maybe “Save the Pink Metallic Sofa Fabric” should be added to our list of retro rescues.

  5. brty says

    I discovered Modern Fabrics a little over two years ago when I thought about buying new dining room chairs, since I was sick of my Room & Board standard issue with boring black seat covers that I’d had for 15+ years. However, the chairs are in fine shape still, and it would have cost alot to get something new. I realized I could just cover the seats with a cool fabric, and my googling led me to Modern Fabrics. I got a beautiful Maharam fabric for only $20/yard–which is less than half of what it would cost elsewhere. They sent swatches of all of the fabrics I thought I might like, so it was easy to pick what was best. The chairs look great now, and they suit our mid-mod house so well! So glad you’re featuring this great company on your site!

  6. Robin, NV says

    Can’t wait to check these guys out. Way out West, we have Mill End Fabric. They’re not as well organized as Modern Fabrics but they have enormous selection. I recently scored some green fabric to reupholster my “new” set of Heywood Wakefield chairs. At Mill End, 2 yards was $5.

  7. Carolyn Self says

    I found this site a good while back, but never realized it was in Charlotte.
    I really feel a retro road trip coming on. Fabrics there, and furniture at Midcentury Salvage. Woot!

  8. says

    They have fresh inventory all the time. If you don’t find what you want this week, check back.

    You don’t need to know how to upholster to use their fabrics. I make pillows with them. Some people make handbags, totes, wall hangings, ect.

    What a great place with a wonderful concept of saving those wonderful fabrics from the landfill!

  9. says

    Another place where I have gotten wonderful midcentury modern fabric online is winterbeachmodern.com
    They have been around for several years and although they don’t have nearly the quantity or selection that modern fabrics has their prices are lower.

  10. Jamie D. says

    I’ve used Modern Fabrics for the upholstery for the new cushions I needed for my Danish lounge chairs because it was surprisingly difficult to find the “right” shade of orange through any local upholsterers. Who knew orange was so tough to find?

    Speedy shipping, and the price couldn’t be beat. I would absolutely use them again if/when I need more fabrics.

  11. Beth says

    We have an historic preservation Colonial Revival bungalow rather than mid-century modern house, but we used tons of Modern Fabrics for our furniture. The fabric is of exceptional quality, well priced, and most of it can work with a wide range of styles. The Howells are delightful to work with, providing personal service. If you can get to Charlotte, I recommend shopping in person, but the website is very functional. I shop both.

  12. Kathy says

    I love this store! I have purchased fabric multiple times! I have recovered pieces in my home and I have just purchased 3 different
    fabrics for my daughter-in-law, and we are not through! I love everyone that works there too! This is the only place that I look for fabric!

  13. Margie C. says

    Thanks for posting this! I am just back from a trip to visit my folks and they gave me their 1957 walnut Danish modern chair (the kind that needs Pirelli rubber strapping clipped in for seat support) to go with my 1958 ranch house. I just need to get some foam and some upholstery fabric to give it some cushions. Nothing I’ve seen locally is quite “it” but I’m already seeing potential at Modern Fabrics. Charlotte is an easy weekender trip and includes a wonderful antique mall (in the same neighborhood as Modern Fabrics!) with lots of mid-century stuff–http://sleepypoetstuff.com/

  14. Giovanna P. says

    I just wanted to add that Modern Fabrics offers the opportunity to send you up to 4 sample swatches for free! I just ordered my 4 by sending them an email today, and can’t wait to receive them. Very nice website as well!

  15. ANN BAKER says

    How cool! I just got my Adrian Pearsall chair reupholstered with fabric from this website, and the upholsterer couldn’t stop fingering the fabric. He said it was incredibly high end. It cost me about $15/yd. Booyah!

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