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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

A Bit Of Toile...Y'All

Toile, which is short for Toile du Jouy, is a pattern used in home décor. The repeated pattern is traditionally set on fabric with a white or cream background, and printed most often in navy, red and black but is also seen in brown, yellow, lavender and green. The pattern is traditionally a one-color pastoral scene that tells a story. Due to toile’s recent rise in popularity, it has found a place not only on the traditional fabric, but also on wallpaper and clothing.
Toile, which is a French word, translates literally to 'cloth'. The first commercial plant was in Jouy en Josas, France and it was there that they began to mass produce this fabric in 1760. Despite its very proper reputation, toile had a decidedly illicit beginning.
Christopher-Philippe Oberkampf, who had previously been producing toile using an expensive, laborious process, uncovered secret etching techniques in England. This technique used copper plated rollers, which would make producing toile much easier. He spirited the secrets out of the country and went on to receive the Legion of Honor distinction by Napoleon himself for his efforts. The French obviously took their toile very seriously.
Toile aficionados love the pattern for its formality, its regal tone and its ability to dress anything up. While some find toile’s patterns overbearing, stuffy and old-fashioned, most find toile charming for its old-world sensibilities. Toile fabric was typically used on nearly every surface in the room, including the upholstery, curtains, walls, bedding and lamps, but now it is used more often on a smaller, more focused scale on lamps, dog beds and baby linens, for example. Teapots and housewares are popping up in toile decorated china and enamel. Clothing lines and accessories using toile in a variety of colors and patterns are becoming more popular as well.
Traditionally, toile depicts French provincial scenes, seasons, forest scenes, stories depicting Roman gods and sea adventures. Originally, toile was meant to tell a story, but now the patterns can include anything from florals to circus scenes and animals. Yellows, greens and pinks have replaced the traditional white and cream backgrounds, making toile a decidedly more funky and eclectic option in home décor. I have a little bit of toile in every room of our home! I love to mix it with a coordinating stripe or check. It has an intimacy and elegance without being too formal or too fancy. Mix fine things with items from a thrift shop or a flea market! It is a delightful mix.
Toile imparts a cozy charm that seems to be a perennial favorite with those who are passionate about home decor!


Valerie said...

how elegant it all looks!

Blue the Spa Girl said...

Green bunny dishes?
I love them!!!!

LisaOceandreamer said...

I just recently purchased 5 yards of a lovely blue/green toile at a fabric store that was closing. I'm not sure yet what I'll make...what would YOU like? Apron? Throw pillow? ;)

Gretchen said...

Those green and white rabbit dishes are too cute! I think I must have them. Now. :) Of course I want the table, table cloth, setting, and time to make all the delightful food, as well.

Entitled? ME?

The last time I used toile was in making a crazy quilt for a friend of mine. It was soooo much fun.

Sheila said...

Toile is my all time favourite pattern design, and I have a little in each room of my home too. I love those green bunny dishes..!
Although it's now different, for a while my kitchen was red and white toile paired with red and white checked Waverley fabrics. I wish it still was..!

PAT said...

Great post, Sue! One of these days, I'm going to do up a black and white toile bedroom. Perhaps the front guest room.'s time for a change there!

Back Porch Musins

Moron Family said...

LOVED your post on my favorite pattern of all time, TOILE! I have a litte in each of my rooms as well and my whole bedroom is black and cream toile as well as the master bath. My love for toile began as a child - we lived in a very cheap apartment but I remember it had blue/white toile wallpaper. I actually made up stories about the scenes on the paper so imagine my delight to find out that was what it was made for! Thanks for the great inspirational post!

Deb said...

What a great post on toile! It's one of my favourite patterns too.

smilnsigh said...

Mmmm I love the look of Toile too. I'd love to be brave enough to do our whole bedroom in it. You know.... everyyyyyyyything in one pattern!

I also know that 'American Husband'* would not be able to stand it. ,-) He goes along with all my rose colors and floozy old fashioned roses on wallpaper, around the house. But! Total Toile! Even he would not be able to live with. ,-)

*I felt silly and so I called my husband 'American Husband.' A play on Dear Cory's calling her husband 'French husband.' Well, he is. :-) Cory at


smilnsigh said...

I can't believe I again messed up a link!!! Aurrrrrrrgh...

I try again...

Cory at .

smilnsigh said...

Eeeeek! Second try still didn't come out properly. -sighhhhhhhhh- Instead of reading the name of Cory's blog {Tongue In Cheek}, you see a little 'dot,' to click on. I am unnnnbelievable. :-(


Dawn Bibbs said... that's just fun to say, isn't it? That's probably the only thing I've retained from French class in high school. Oh wait, they didn't teach us that, that was HGTV where I learned that word :-)...same difference. Still fun to say.

Beautiful pix!

Southern Heart said...

I love this post! I need a lamp just like that toile lamp! :)