Toile has been around for several hundred years. While its popularity has ebbed and flowed over time, this fabric never completely disappears. It remains a classic although it was eventually considered an outdated decorating element. In fact, it can still be found even in modern curtains, upholstered chairs, and even shirts.
What Is Toile?
The word “toile” translates to linen cloth or canvas in French. It is shortened from the term “Toile de Jouy,” which means cloth from Jouy-en-Josas, a suburb in Paris. It is a specific type of linen printed with a highly detailed pattern in a single color on an unbleached fabric.
The History of Toile
This fabric originated in Ireland during the mid-1700s. It was primarily used by dressmakers and tailors to test and perfect their patterns on an extremely cheap, unbleached material. It then became an extremely popular decorating element in France and Britain. In 1760, a French naturalized German industrialist Christophe-Philipe Oberkampf established the first toile factory. He then worked with the famous designer Jean-Baptiste Huet to develop the classic styles and patterns of toile.
Toile became a sought-after item when it was brought to North America during the Colonial era. It had a surge in popularity in American historical sites during the 1930s, but it eventually experienced a resurgence. Despite its decline in popularity, many clothing designers started to add toile to clothing styles and patterns in the 2000s. It was also included in the designs of many modern home decors.
The Characteristics of Toile
Toile was first created hundreds of years ago, but its style and patterns that made it one-of-a-kind can still be found today. Here are some of its distinctive features:
- A pattern printed on white or off-white linen, canvas, muslin material
- A repeated pattern with pastoral or nature-related subjects, such as animals, landscapes, and flowers
- Patterns printed in single colors, such as black, green, red, blue, magenta, or brown
Decorating Your Home With Toile
Adding toile to your home decor allows you to create a shabby chic vibe. If you want to showcase a minimal design and decorate your home with toile, try using some of these items with toile fabric or designs:
- Wallpaper: Toile designs are ideal for wallpapers since the highly detailed repeating patterns add character to your walls in a neutral space.
- Window Treatments: Using curtains with toile fabric can give your home a French country look.
- Upholstery: Since its inception, toile is mainly used on upholstered chairs, sofas, and other furniture.
- China: Antique and fine-dining tea sets with toile designs look sophisticated. Bringing them out to intimate gatherings will surely impress guests.
- Bedding: Toile can also be used to add beauty to bed sheets, duvets, and canopy covers.
Toile Fabric Care Guide
Whether you have an heirloom or modern toile, it requires extra care and attention to prevent the fabric from stiffening or the patterns from bleeding or fading. To wash it properly, hand wash it in cold water or use a washing machine on a cold, gentle cycle. When hanging it to dry, avoid drying it out in the sun.
Toile is a timeless decorating element that adds charm and character to any home. Incorporating it into your house lets you create a modern spin on a classic design and fabric. To learn more about decorating your home with it and explore other home design ideas, read a trusted sustainable design blog.
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