Frieze upholstery fabric

img_6383What is frieze upholstery fabric? This subject comes up on the blog now and then. It’s a very desirable vintage upholstery fabric that was used widely back in the day. One example, from my hoard, is shown above. Frieze is a tightly-looped upholstery — probably a man-made fiber — has a plastic-like feel — will likely leave a pattern in your face if you sleep on it (!) — may be looped into a design, or not — generally has a sheen — rough to the touch — but durable as all heck.

img_6385Tip to view photos: On a desktop computer, click the photos and they should enlarge up to 1,000 pixels wide on screen.

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Above: Vintage sofas covered in frieze upholstery, contributed to the blog over the years.


img_6393Above: Another example from my hoard. I have quite a few yards of this. No design, per se. Just neverending gobstopper frieze.


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  1. Joe Felice says

    The fabric was nylon. I remember seeing end of the nylon stitching sticking out. Sometimes, they even poked me. Reminded me of fishing line.

    Now, why i it called “frieze?” I’ve not heard that term in reference to fabric. Back in the day, we just called it “sculptured nylon.” It was all the rage, as was it’s carpet equivalent. I have heard of frieze boards on buildings, and we have frieze carpet today, but it is not this at ll. It’s a new word for “shag.”

  2. says

    Yes, my parents’ sofa and chair had this frieze stuff – it was green and looped and I thought is was strange as all heck. The set was originally from the turn of the 20th century and purchased at a Beacon Auction in San Francisco by my great-grandmother. My grandparents reupholstered the set with this green stuff some time later. When my folks inherited in the 80s, they had the set recovered with something else. just a few years ago they had it all redone in a lovely navy velvet., which is much easier on the face 😉

  3. denise says

    “Durable as all heck” is probably why we had a nubby textured sectional. Three non-delicate boys in the family. Things needed to be durable.

  4. Mary Anne S says

    When my kids were little all of our furniture came from the used store. We had a really big chair with wide arm rests that was a light beige frieze, just the right size for a parent and child to read or watch TV together. We also had a light weight 3 piece sectional upholstered in a rosy beige frieze, the kids could take it apart and reconfigure it to their hearts content. It was often a fort or a boat. I loved that furniture. The big chair was given to a friend who had a house fire and needed everything and the sectional was sold to a friend who was just starting out after I was able to buy new. Good memories!

  5. Vintage Tikitacky says

    I regret not loading up in the mid 1980s at a stall in an Ohio antique mall that had bolts and bolts of nylon frieze.

    It was unusually expensive for then. Like $100 a bolt. Hahaha! I laugh, but you could buy whole 1950s living room sets for that then.

    At any given time she’d have thirty bolts leaning against the walls. She even had the good stuff with the lurex thread running through. She had black. She had pink. She had sculputured, she had plain. (She had bark-cloth too, but that’s not the subject under discussion). I would sigh longingly at it. She was smart to sell it as high as the market would bear it. She had a rare commodity and although she seemed to have a limitless supply, she clearly knew that once it was gone, it was gone and she wasn’t giving it away. She was there for years and every time I was in Ohio I’d go. After a gap of perhaps six years I went back in 2000 to find that the whole antique mall was gone and the building had become something else.

    That clever owner of what must have been a warehouse of frieze had the foresight to recognize that although the quality furniture would last, the fabric itself would wear out. And for those relatively few people in the 80s who were into mid-century when it was only 20-something years back in history, spending a hundred bucks on the color of nylon frieze you wanted instead of the color you found was a great option.

    I have had over half a dozen frieze living room sets over the years, not including four different mid-century leopard couches or sets (which were commonly a rougher wool upholstery, not frieze). I could never EVER pass those up and would buy them for friends who probably wished I would stop. I passed up so many things I punch myself for, but I was never able to pass up a leopard couch.

    Even in the late 90s when leopard and black frieze with lurex thread were very expensive, you could still find the ubiquitous turquoise sets or still the occasional lurex threaded one – like the less desirable neutrals (although my pink-brown with copper lurex 3-piece sectional turned out to match nearly any room I put it in) at thrifts and yard sales for a couple hundred bucks.

    Then it all changed and quickly too. Before the new millennium was even reaching the ripe old age of a decade, thousands upon countless thousands of newly-hatched fans of mid-century burst, fully-formed onto the scene over the period of perhaps 6-8 years so that by 2006 we were neck-deep in buzz-words, catch-phrases, re-pops, brand-name-dropping, and the accompanying stunning prices because of the ol’ supply and demand principle.

    1980-1995 were AMAZING years for we oddballs joyfully scooping up mid-century awesomeness and we now just reminisce about nylon-frieze dealers.

    Big Fish stories, the Mid-Century edition. Hahaha!

    Instead of dreaming of winning the lottery, we dream of the unadvertised estate sales of hoarders with great taste who were in their heyday in 1958 and stored everything away the moment they bought it, living in only a rotating selection of house-dresses and eating off of paper plates amongst their sheet-shrouded furniture and cloth-wrapped dishware. And of course we are the only ones who found the sale where prices are straight out of 1981. (Sidebar: I actually had this dream, only it was a nightmare because in the dream I’d forgotten my wallet and there were people arriving and she wouldn’t close and lock the door and let me buy everything when I came back with my wallet. Seriously. I had that dream.)

    Whoooo-wee! That was quite a lot of babbling. Anyway: Sure wish I had a bolt of that nylon frieze now. With or without the lurex.

  6. Ruth Hoefert says

    Thanks for the information! I am sure that we had one of these chairs growing up. Ours was brown, I think it had those big arms that you could comfortably sit on. We had it for years. I wonder if I have any pictures somewhere?

  7. Lenore Swartzwelder says


    The fourth picture of the frieze couch is mine. I was very fortune to find it thru the craigslist ad for 50 dollars almost 5 years ago. I had to drive 1 hour and half to pick it up. It was in a very, very great condition and still is. I was beyond thrilled.

  8. Susan Koeppe says

    Hi Pam!
    I remember very well a couch and 6 dining chairs my paternal grandmother, Edna Hazel, had in her 1930s era triplex. The set was purchased on “Lay a way” when she worked at Barker Brothers Department Store in the Los Angeles area many years prior to WWII. The set was covered with the “never-ending gobstopper” frieze in green and, my goodness, did that upholstery last forever! It was still going strong and looking exactly the same in 1990 as it did in 1940! I really don’t miss that fabric, though…

  9. Margie C. says

    I have that Peanuts trash can! In yellow! My brother had the red one and my sister had a blue one. I use mine in my knotty pine paneled bedroom. And my grandfather had a frieze-and-vinyl-combo upholstered armchair in sea green!

  10. Lindsay L Amadeo says

    Does anyone know of a good resource to purchase either vintage or reproduction frieze fabric? I would like to recover my chaise in a gorgeous aqua or turquoise. Silver thread shot through would be a real plus!

  11. Lola says

    My sectional sofa has this fabric. It’s from the 50s in a gold color. I love it and was really excited when we got it. But last year we got a puppy as a wedding gift and he has since ate a hole on the one side of it. So I’d love to get it reupholstered but I can’t seem to find this fabric anywhere. Anyone have any ideas?

  12. Lauren J says

    Love, love, love frieze!!!!! I buy every inch in every color I can find. And I’ve actually used one piece in a spruce color to reupholster my dining room chairs. The rest is saved (read hoarded) for the perfect place to be used.
    My main memory of frieze is being home from school in the 1960’s with my sister, both with chicken pocks, and both of us laying on my parents frieze covered couch. I was so stiff and rough we could actually scratch our chicken pocks by just wiggling around on the fabric. lol
    Pam, still loving your blog after all these years!

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