Choosing Fabric for your Upholstery Project – Part Four: Traditional Style

I found this to be a difficult topic to cover, mainly because there are so many different options for traditional furniture. Obviously, any fabric choice to be made is completely dependent on personal taste. Within “traditional” style, there is also the choice to go bold, or keep it neutral. The traditional fabrics I’ve chosen can go either way…neutral, for those who prefer true traditional, and bold, for those who like an eclectic twist.

If you’re stuck for choices for your traditional style furniture, here are my top picks:

Damask fabric is woven on a jacquard loom, so the pattern is visible on both sides. Traditionally, it’s comprised of cotton, linen, silk or wool. It now comes in man-made fibres as well. It usually has a sheen to it. Today, “damask” can also refer to just the pattern, and now comes in print form, usually on a cotton blend fabric. Although these prints come in fun, bold colour schemes, they will not be as hard wearing as a woven fabric and therefore should be kept to smaller side chairs and accent pieces.



Velvet is made of silk, nylon, acetate, rayon, etc., sometimes having a cotton backing, with a thick, soft pile formed of cut loops. The choice is endless when it comes to colour, sheen, texture and even pattern.




Subtle or bold, stripes add character and interest to a traditional piece of furniture. Striped fabric can be woven (which is best for upholstery applications) or printed onto a cotton blend fabric. Stripes have stood the test of time, and are not going to go out of style the way that “fad” patterns (such as chevrons) will.



Linen fabric is made from flax fibers. It is two to three times stronger than cotton and is a good conductor of heat. This is what makes it a popular fabric to use in the summer. Although it can wrinkle easily, it gives a natural, neutral look to your furniture.



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