July 19, 2010

Fabric Jouy de Vivre!

Pink and Brown French Toile Throw Pillow

It’s nearly impossible to have visited any type of interior furnishings store in the last ten years without having seen some version of the above fabric. Having made quite a comeback in the last decade, Toile, or more formally Toile de Jouy was first produced in 18th century France by Monsieur Christophe-Phillipe Oberkampf. Toile simply means cloth in French, but this cloth is certainly not simple.

blue toile

Designs were first engraved with 10-inch wooden blocks, then engravings were done with copperplates and finally a Swiss machine was developed to allow for more detail in designs. The most traditional toile is decorated with idyllic scenes inspired by pastoral life in the French countryside. As its popularity grew, one might have seen images of Greek and Roman mythology, themes surrounding children or depictions of famous Americans such as Ben Franklin and George Washington. 


If traditional toile patterns feel too stuffy for your taste, you might want to take a chapter from the book of the talented author of the Cucumbersome blog who attacked her black and white toile pillow with a set of average highlighter pens and ended up with a funky twist on an old favorite. I think toile can be great in small doses…I have a couple yards that I picked up at a rummage sale and was thinking of trying to decide what to do with it. I don’t want it to take over my entire house, but a pillow or two might do the trick.

How do you feel about toile? Are you in love with this patterned fabric or does it send you running for the hills? What other ideas could be used to modernize this classic cloth?