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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Pattern Name: Flashpoint [update: discontinued, but I’ll leave this here for historical reference – Pam]
Colors: Beige Shimmer, Copper, and Silverscreen

Manufacturer: Maxwell
Pattern Name: Indulgence – Smokescreen [update: website behind a password now, but I’ll leave this here for historical reference – Pam]
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.

Frieze fabrics from Knoll / 2018

UPDATE 2019:

The closest I’ve come to old-fashioned frieze — and it’s pretty darned close if you ask me — are two fabrics from Knoll that I found in 2018. See this story. 

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