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Pattern Name: Flashpoint [update: discontinued, but I’ll leave this here for historical reference – Pam]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Pattern Name: Indulgence – Smokescreen [update: website behind a password now, but I’ll leave this here for historical reference – Pam]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