Top 5 Q&A: Upholstery Fabric Types & Patterns

I’ve been keeping track of the TOP FIVE questions I get asked about UPHOLSTERY FABRICS and without further ado, here they are…

#5 Which makes an upholstery fabric different than other fabric?

#4 How can I tell if an Upholstery Fabric is a good quality and going to hold up?

#3 What are the most popular types and patterns of upholstery fabrics?

#2 What are some budget friendly options for Fabrics?

#1 Where can I buy Upholstery Fabrics if I’m not a designer with a wholesale account?

Favorite Fabric Guide

There are way too many fabric styles and patterns to list, each with its own distinct design and manufacturing process.

If you are looking for an incredible fabric resource that you can hold in the palm of your hand I would highly suggest picking up a copy of 

TEXTILEPEDIA: The Complete Fabric Guide

Textilepedia is like a Fabric Manual, or encyclopaedia, filled with textile information. Covering everything from material to yarn, fabric structure to the finishing process. Encompassing practical tips for a range of textiles and detailed visuals, this ultra-accessible manual is the perfect companion for fashion aficionados and aspiring fashion designers.

Let's Talk Fabric Types & Patterns!

If you missed the post where I talked about the first two questions you can read it HERE

Today we are going to be talking about question #3

What are the most popular types and patterns of upholstery fabrics.

FIRST I want to quickly review about how fabrics are made and why that matters when choosing fabrics for your upholstery and home decor projects.


Fabrics can be made through various manufacturing processes, each resulting in different types of textiles. Here is a quick review of some of the common methods of fabric production:

  1. Weaving: Weaving is the most common method of fabric production. It involves interlacing the warp and weft yarns at right angles to create a woven fabric. The warp threads run lengthwise, while the weft threads run crosswise. Weaving can be done on different types of looms, including handlooms, power looms, or industrial weaving machines.
  2. Knitting: Knitting involves interlooping yarns to create a fabric structure. It can be done by hand or with knitting machines. Knitted fabrics have more stretch and flexibility compared to woven fabrics. There are two primary types of knitting: weft knitting and warp knitting. Weft knitting is the most common, where a single yarn runs horizontally across the fabric, creating rows of loops.
  3. Non-woven: Non-woven fabrics are made by bonding or fusing fibers together rather than weaving or knitting them. This can be achieved through various methods, such as heat, chemical bonding, or mechanical processes. Some upholstery leathers, composite leathers, vinyls etc and made this way.
  4. Felting: Felting involves matting and interlocking fibers together using moisture, heat, and pressure. It is commonly done with wool fibers. By agitating and manipulating the fibers, they become entangled and form a dense fabric. Felting can be achieved through wet felting, needle felting, or steam felting techniques. Felt fabrics are known for their warmth, durability, and ability to be shaped or molded.
  5. Bonding: Bonding refers to the process of combining two or more layers of fabric or materials using adhesives, heat, or pressure. Bonded fabrics can have different layers, such as a fabric bonded to foam or a fabric bonded to a waterproof layer. This method is commonly used in high quality upholstery fabrics, or specialized performance fabrics.

I will be sharing a post soon that talks more about the Fascinating World of Fabric Fabrication if you want to know more you can read it HERE.

Understanding the manufacturing process can help in choosing the right type of fabric for specific projects or purposes.


Here are some common upholstery fabric types along with their descriptions:

  1. Velvet: Velvet is a luxurious and elegant upholstery fabric known for its soft and plush texture. It has a dense pile that adds depth and richness to furniture. Velvet is available in various colors and can be made from natural fibers like silk or synthetic materials like polyester.
  2. Chenille: Chenille is a fabric with a velvety texture and a raised pile. It is often made from cotton or synthetic fibers. Chenille upholstery fabric is durable, soft, and available in a range of colors and patterns.
  3. Leather: Leather is a natural upholstery material made from animal hides, typically from cattle. It is known for its durability, luxurious appearance, and unique texture. Leather upholstery develops a beautiful patina over time and is available in different finishes and types, such as full-grain, top-grain, and bonded leather.
  4. Microfiber: Microfiber is a synthetic upholstery fabric made from fine polyester or nylon fibers. It is durable, stain-resistant, and easy to clean. Microfiber upholstery is a popular choice for households with children or pets due to its resilience and low-maintenance nature.
  5. Linen: Linen is a natural fiber upholstery fabric made from flax plant fibers. It has a textured appearance and is known for its durability and breathability. Linen upholstery lends a relaxed and casual feel to furniture.
  6. Cotton: Cotton upholstery fabric is made from natural cotton fibers, offering comfort, softness, and breathability. It comes in various weaves, patterns, and colors. Cotton upholstery is versatile and suitable for a range of furniture styles.
  7. Jacquard: Jacquard upholstery fabric features intricate woven patterns and designs. It is created on a jacquard loom using multiple colored yarns. Jacquard fabrics can have a luxurious and decorative look, making them ideal for statement pieces of furniture.
  8. Tweed: Tweed upholstery fabric is characterized by its rough and textured appearance. It is typically made from wool fibers and known for its warmth and durability. Tweed fabrics come in a range of earthy tones and are popular for traditional and rustic-style furniture.
  9. Sunbrella: Sunbrella is a brand of performance upholstery fabric designed to be highly durable, fade-resistant, and weather-resistant. It is commonly used for outdoor furniture upholstery but can also be used indoors. Sunbrella fabrics are made from solution-dyed acrylic fibers.
  10. Faux Suedes and Composite Leathers: Faux suede and composite leathers mimic the look and feel of the “real deal” Composite leathers are made up of a percentage of real leather while Faux Suede is typically made from synthetic materials like polyester or microfiber. Both offer luxurious textures, are easier to maintain than real suede and hide leathers and are much more affordable.

When choosing a TYPE of upholstery fabric I always suggest that first and foremost you consider factors such as durability, it’s daily usage, cleaning and maintenance requirements and all the specific needs of your the furniture you are recovering before getting your heart set on a specific style or pattern. It can save you a lot of headache down the road.


Knowing the names and descriptions of a few of common upholstery fabric patterns and what keywords to use when searching can help when you are on the hunt for the perfect fabric.

  1. Floral: Floral patterns feature designs inspired by flowers and plants either printed or woven into the fabric using jacquard or dobby looms. Keywords & Search Terms: Oversized Floral, Botanical, Tropical Floral, Chintz, Watercolor Floral, Vintage Floral, English Garden Print, Toile de Jouy, Floral Paisley
  2. Stripes: Stripes are characterized by parallel lines running across the fabric. They can be thin, wide, or varied in width. Keywords & Search Terms: Awning Stripe, Pinstripe, Candy Stripe, Bengal Stripe, Railroad Stripe, Regency Stripe, Breton Stripe, Ticking Stripe, Herringbone Stripe.
  3. Plaid: Plaid, also known as tartan, is a pattern that features intersecting horizontal and vertical lines, creating a checkered or crisscross design. Keywords & Search Terms: Tartan, Houndstooth, Buffalo Plaid, Shepards Check, Glen Plaid
  4. Geometric: Geometric patterns include various shapes, such as squares, triangles, circles, or abstract forms. They are often created through screen printing techniques or digital printing methods. Keywords & Search Terms: Chevron, Greek Key, Quatrefoil, Maze, Retro, Cubist, Moroccan Trellis, Hexagon, Abstract.
  5. Damask: Damask is a pattern that features elaborate designs with a contrasting background. It is usually woven using a special jacquard loom and Damask patterns often have a tone-on-tone effect or metallic accents. Keywords & Search Terms: Floral Damask, Baroque Damask, Medallion Damask, Scroll or Paisley Damask, Leaf Damask, Jacobean Damask, Tone-on-Tone Damask
  6. Tribal/Cultural: Tribal fabrics draw inspiration from traditional cultures and indigenous artistry from around the world. These fabrics often feature bold patterns, vibrant colors, and geometric motifs. Keywords & Search Terms: Aztec, African Wax Print, Ikat, Navajo Patterns, Maasai Striped, Hmong Floral, Peruvian Brocade, Indonesian Batik, Aboriginal Dot Print.
  7. Vintage & Retro: Vintage and retro fabrics often evoke nostalgia and capture the aesthetics of past eras. Keywords & Search Terms: Chintz, Toile de Jouy, Hollywood Regency, Art Deco, Mod, Atomic, Mid-Century Modern, Psychedelic, Americana, Pop Art

These are just a few examples of popular fabric styles and patterns but there are countless more available. The manufacturing processes for creating these patterns can involve weaving, printing, dyeing, or a combination of techniques, depending on the desired effect and complexity of the design.

Knowing the TYPE of fabric you want to use on a particular piece or design then selecting patterns and styles available can help insure that the time, money and effort you are putting into your project will yield the best results and something you will be happy with for a long time.


Next up in my TOP FIVE Q&A Upholstery Questions FOUR & FIVE: “What are some budget friendly upholstery fabric options, and where can I buy them?”

If you missed Questions ONE & TWO… you can check them out HERE

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