Popular Fabric Patterns and Materials in Upholstery

Let’s dive into the popular upholstery fabric patterns and materials that elevate home aesthetics.

Quick Summary: Here’s a quick overview of the fabric world, breaking down the ins and outs of each type, along with a handy popularity score out of 10. Let’s dive in!

Fabric TypeDescriptionPopularity Score (out of 10)
🍃 CottonSoft, breathable, and versatile9
🧵 PolyesterDurable, wrinkle-resistant, quick-drying8
🌾 LinenLightweight, breathable, and has a natural look7
🐑 WoolWarm, durable, and resilient7
🕸 SilkLuxurious, smooth, and has a natural sheen8
👖 DenimSturdy, durable, and fashionable9
🍂 Rayon/ViscoseSoft, breathable, and drapes well6
🛋 LeatherDurable, timeless, and has a unique texture8
🌟 SatinSmooth, glossy surface, and drapes well6
🦄 VelvetSoft, luxurious, and has a rich appearance7
🎈 NylonStrong, elastic, and lightweight5
🔄 Spandex/LycraExtremely stretchy and retains shape6

Dive in with me as we explore the world of popular fabric patterns and materials, and discover how the right pick can bring life and character to your favorite furniture pieces.

Common Materials Used in Upholstery

Regarding upholstery, there is a wide variety of fabrics and materials. And I’ve seen my fair share of them all! This section will dive into some of the most common materials used in upholstering furniture, including natural and synthetic fabrics.

Natural Fabrics

Natural fabrics are made from materials like cotton, linen, wool, silk, and leather, to name a few. These are all eco-friendly and biodegradable options for upholstering furniture.

A cream couch, pillows and shawl blanket

  • Cotton. This is an excellent choice for upholstery due to its softness, durability, and breathability. It’s particularly popular in couch materials as it provides a comfortable seating experience and is resistant to pilling and wear, making it great for everyday use.

  • Linen. On the other hand, it is known for its casual look and unique texture. It is a natural fabric that gains character over time and works well for furniture that doesn’t endure heavy use or in breezy, coastal-inspired interiors.

  • Wool is both warm and cozy, adding a touch of luxury to your furniture. Not only is it incredibly durable, but it’s also naturally stain and flame-resistant, making it a fantastic choice for chairs and sofas.

  • Leather. This strong material is perfect for families with pets and children, as it is easy to clean and durable. Plus, it adds an elegant feel to any space.

  • Silk. It can be an extravagant choice for upholstery. Although not as resistant to wear and tear, silk is a stunning focal point in a room, especially when featuring intricate designs or bold, floral patterns.

Synthetic Fabrics

On the other hand, synthetic fabrics are made from man-made materials like acrylic, microfiber, nylon, polyester, olefin, rayon, and vinyl. These fabrics are typically more affordable and offer increased durability and resistance to stains and wear, making them perfect for high-traffic areas and homes with pets.

  • Microfiber polyester. It has a smooth, velvet-like texture that resists stains and wear. Its durability and easy-to-clean nature make it an excellent option for family sofas.

  • Acrylic. This synthetic fabric is known for its resistance to fading, making it a great outdoor furniture option. It’s also mold and mildew-resistant, ensuring your outdoor pieces stay fresh and vibrant.

  • Rayon. This versatile fabric can mimic the appearance and feel of natural materials like silk and linen. It’s a cost-effective alternative compared to its natural counterparts.

A person touching the fabric of a cushion seat
Video | Bale Living

  • Olefin. This is an exceptionally durable synthetic fabric derived from petroleum. It resembles the look and feel of wool, making it perfect for furniture in areas that receive a lot of wear.

A person holding a vinyl fabric on a couch
Video | Sailrite

  • Vinyl. This is the go-to choice for upholstery for easy cleaning and durability. Plus, it’s available in numerous styles and designs, making it just as stylish as it is functional.

So, whether you’re reupholstering a beloved antique chair or selecting a material for your new custom furniture piece, rest assured that plenty of options are available in natural and synthetic fabrics to suit your needs and preferences!

Popular Fabric Patterns in Upholstery

You might be wondering what kinds of fabric patterns are making a splash in the world of upholstery. The answer is quite a few! This year, we’re seeing a mix of both traditional and contemporary patterns taking center stage. Let’s dive into the most popular styles.

Traditional Patterns

Dive into the world of upholstery, and you’ll find some patterns that have stood the test of time. These aren’t just designs; they’re stories told through fabric.


A fabric with damask pattern in it

Damask is known for its intricate and reversible patterns, often featuring floral or botanical motifs.

  • How This Design Was Made: Traditionally, Damask was woven on a jacquard loom using a single color combining satin and matte weaves to create the design.
  • Where This is Commonly Used: Damask is primarily used in upscale sofas, armchairs, and occasional chairs.


A paisley pattern fabric
Video | Timothy Riley

Paisley is characterized by its teardrop-shaped motifs with curved upper ends.

  • How This Design Was Made: The design has its roots in ancient Persia, hand-painted or block-printed on textiles.
  • Where This is Commonly Used: Paisley is often found on accent chairs, cushions, and footstools.


Toile features detailed scenes, often of pastoral life or historical events.

  • How This Design Was Made: Originally hand-painted in France, it became widely produced using copperplate printing.
  • Where This is Commonly Used: Toile is popular for sofas, chaises, and ottomans.


A chintz fabric with different design pattern

Chintz is recognized for its bright, vibrant floral patterns on a light background.

  • How This Design Was Made: Originally hand-painted or block-printed in India, it’s now commonly machine-printed.
  • Where This is Commonly Used: Chintz is used for armchairs, settees, and daybeds.


Brocade fabric patterns

Brocade has floral raised patterns woven into the fabric.

  • How This Design Was Made: Brocade is produced using a jacquard loom, often incorporating gold or silver threads.
  • Where This is Commonly Used: Brocade is chosen for luxury sofas, dining chairs, and headboards.

Contemporary Patterns

Fast forward to today, and upholstery’s got a whole new vibe. Contemporary patterns are all about capturing the now. It’s the modern twist that keeps our spaces feeling vibrant and current.


Geometric fabric pattern design

Geometric patterns comprise structured shapes, lines, and symmetrical designs.

  • How This Design Was Made: Often computer-designed for precision and symmetry.
  • Where This is Commonly Used: Popular in modern sectionals, lounge chairs, and stools.


Abstract pattern designs on fabric

Abstract patterns use unpredictable designs, often without a clear subject.

  • How This Design Was Made: Typically computer-generated or artistically hand-drawn without following traditional motifs.
  • Where This is Commonly Used: Used in contemporary sofas, accent chairs, and benches.

Stripes and Checks

Stripes and checks designs on fabric

Patterns featuring linear and block designs in various arrangements.

  • How This Design Was Made: It can be woven into the fabric or printed onto the surface.
  • Where This is Commonly Used: Used in settees, club chairs, and ottomans.

Digital Prints

Digital prints design on fabric

Designs that can range from photographic images to complex patterns.

  • How This Design Was Made: Created using digital graphic design tools and then printed onto fabric using specialized printers.
  • Where This is Commonly Used: Everywhere, from loveseats to accent chairs, showcasing its versatility.


Monochromatic pattern design on fabric
Video | Vogzy India

Patterns that use one primary color in varying shades.

  • How This Design Was Made: Designed with color grading techniques through dyeing or digital design.
  • Where This is Commonly Used: Widely used in modern sectionals, lounge chairs, and recliners.

The Perfect Pair: Matching Fabrics with Patterns

Regarding upholstery, it’s not just about picking a stellar fabric or a snazzy pattern – it’s about pairing the two in harmony. Let’s dive into some fabrics and discover the patterns that truly let them shine.

Fabric TypeBest PatternReason
CottonStripes or ChecksCotton’s versatile nature shines with classic patterns like stripes or checks, enhancing its natural feel.
LinenFloral or PaisleyFloral and paisley patterns resonate with linen’s casual elegance, giving an airy vibe.
WoolHerringbone or TweedWool’s texture pairs well with patterns, offering depth and echoing its natural warmth.
LeatherEmbossed or Tooled designsEmbossed patterns add refined detail to leather, enhancing its natural elegance.
SilkDamask or BrocadeSilk’s delicate sheen is complemented by intricate details of damask or brocade, making it look regal.
Microfiber PolyesterGeometric or AbstractWith its modern edge, geometric and abstract patterns make microfiber pop with character.
AcrylicNautical stripes or Tropical printsBreezy patterns, perfect for patios, amplify acrylic’s outdoor nature.
RayonIkat or ShiboriRayon’s versatility shines with handcrafted patterns like Ikat or Shibori, making each piece unique.
OlefinChevron or BasketweaveOlefin’s durability pairs well with structured patterns, giving it a stylish edge.
VinylQuilted or Perforated designsQuilted patterns add softness to vinyl, while perforated designs offer a modern feel.

Remember, the perfect pairing of fabric and pattern can truly elevate the design and

Factors Influencing Fabric and Pattern Choices

There’s much to consider when choosing the perfect fabric and pattern for your upholstery project. I’ve found that considering these factors pays off, ensuring you have something stylish, durable, and long-lasting. So, let’s dive in!

  • Color. This is important for the aesthetic appeal of your furniture and how it works within your space. Think about how it will fit into your living room or whatever area you’re working with. Your upholstered furniture should complement the room’s overall color scheme and style.
  • Material. There’s a wide variety available, from natural fabrics like cotton and linen to synthetic options like polyester and vinyl. Remember that each material has unique qualities, perks, and challenges. Durable, comfort, and maintenance requirements should influence your decision.
  • Weave and textures. Some fabrics have intricate weaves that can show off the fine details of a pattern, while others have more laid-back and relaxed textures. This is about personal preference and your desired feel for your furniture piece.
  • Patterns. I’ve learned they can bring a distinct personality to your upholstery projects. From classic floral designs to bold geometric shapes, the possibilities are endless! You’ll want to choose a pattern that reflects your style while considering the space’s vibe and atmosphere.

Tips and Tricks: Finding the Perfect Match for Your Furniture

Navigating the world of upholstery can seem like a maze, but with a few insider tips, you’ll be on your way to making top-notch choices for every piece and space.

  • Understand the Room’s Traffic:
    • Use durable fabrics like olefin or microfiber for high-traffic areas like family rooms. They’ll stand up to the hustle and bustle and still look fresh.
  • Lighting Matters:
    • If your room gets a ton of natural light, be wary of fabrics that fade easily, like silk. Instead, consider acrylic or polyester blends that resist sun fading.
  • Size and Scale:
    • Bigger furniture pieces do well with subtle patterns or solid colors. Save those bold, statement patterns for accent chairs or throw pillows.
  • Functionality First:
    • Do you have any kiddos or pets? Leather or vinyl can be your best friends. They’re easy to clean and don’t snag easily. Plus, they bring a sleek look to the space.
  • Mood Setting:
    • For a relaxed, beachy vibe, linen with soft, organic patterns works wonders. Looking for something regal? Silk with brocade patterns can elevate any room.
  • Test Before You Invest:
    • Whenever possible, get swatches. Live with them for a week, see their feelings, and observe their look under different lighting conditions.
  • Pattern Mixing:
    • Don’t be afraid to mix patterns. Stick to a color scheme, play with different scales, and you’ll have a harmonious blend. For instance, a large geometric pattern can be paired with a smaller floral print in the same color family.
  • Seasonal Swaps:
    • Consider having seasonal fabric choices. Cooler, cozier fabrics like wool for winter and breathable cotton or linen for summer can keep your space fresh year-round.
  • Maintenance Check:
    • Before making a final choice, understand the care needs of the fabric. Some materials may require professional cleaning, while others can be easily maintained at home.

Care and Maintenance for Different Materials and Patterns

Regarding upholstered furniture, proper care and maintenance are key to keeping it looking great. As a designer, I’ve worked with various fabrics and materials in upholstery, and I want to share my tips with you.

Fabric TypeClean-UpMaintenance Tip
CottonRegular vacuuming. For spills, spot clean with a mild soap-water mix.Avoid direct sunlight to prevent fading. Rotate cushions regularly for even wear.
LinenGentle vacuuming. For tougher spots, consult a professional (water can leave marks).Keep furniture away from direct sunlight to retain its crisp color.
WoolVacuum regularly. For stains, use lukewarm water and gentle detergent. Blot, don’t rub!Wool naturally repels dirt. Use a protective spray occasionally to fend off spills.
LeatherWipe with a damp cloth. For tougher grime, a leather cleaner works.Condition leather every few months to keep it soft and crack-free.
SilkDelicate fabric. It is best to dry clean or consult a professional.Keep silk out of direct sunlight to maintain vibrancy.
Microfiber PolyesterVacuum regularly. For stains, use mild soap and water.Brush gently with a soft-bristled brush to keep the fabric smooth and plush.
AcrylicWipe with a mix of lukewarm water and mild detergent.While it’s fade-resistant, consider a shade for outdoor pieces to prolong their appearance.
RayonSpot clean with mild detergent. Can water-stain, so test a hidden area first.It might wrinkle after cleaning. Smooth out the fabric for a crisp finish.
OlefinVacuum or brush away loose dirt. Clean with a mild soap solution.Resists staining, but acting quickly on spills ensures it remains spotless.
VinylWipe with a damp cloth. For sticky spots, a touch of mild detergent is effective.Avoid harsh cleaners or abrasives to keep their shine intact.



  • American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). https://www.asid.org/
  • International Association of Designers (IAD). https://www.iaod.net/


  • “The Upholsterer’s Handbook” by Nicole Fulton and Stuart Weston.
  • “Fabric for the Designed Interior” by Frank Koe.
  • “Textiles for Residential and Commercial Interiors” by Amy Willbanks, Nancy Oxford, and Dana Miller.

Website Resources:

Video References:

Optimum Cleaning Services

Principle Volvo Cars San Antonio

Boulevard Home

Rodriguez Cleaning Services

The Home Depot

Oxy-Dry® Carpet Cleaning

Bale Living



Timothy Riley

Affordable Home Fabrics

Vogzy India

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About Shelly

ShellyShelly Harrison is a renowned upholstery expert and a key content contributor for ToolsWeek. With over twenty years in the upholstery industry, she has become an essential source of knowledge for furniture restoration. Shelly excels in transforming complicated techniques into accessible, step-by-step guides. Her insightful articles and tutorials are highly valued by both professional upholsterers and DIY enthusiasts.

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