willowbrook farm

historic yellow springs


My Love of Toile

Doing a little dance today for the sun is out for the first time in what feels like an eternity! I caught Snickers the cat basking in its warmth today when walking past. This is one of the kitties favorite spots to sun themselves and one of these days I might try and find the time to bask in the warmth myself…with a good book! (We can always dream can’t we??)
Anyway, I felt the need to take a picture of the kitty and his buddies who were on the other end of the window seat. My friend Jane just covered the old cushions in my concoction of burlap, toile and ticking. I love how it turned out!
 Upon taking the pictures, the idea came into my head that I should share my love of toile with you and how I have used it all over my house…in small doses. Maybe it is the history of the fabric that lures me. Did you know that France banned the import of the new cotton fabrics that were being imported from India in 1686? It was wildly popular and they thought that popularity would threaten the French manufacturers of silk, wool and cotton. It was not lifted until 1759 and then it went crazy all over Europe. 
I quickly walked through my house and took some shoots (I apologize for the quality of the pictures) of toile covered pieces that I have done or have had my friend Jane do, who is probably still cursing me to this day on my asking her to use burlap is so many designs. Have you ever worked with burlap? It sheds worse than our cats!
This is a chair that I found in a barn in Virginia…already covered in a combination of checks, toile and an old feed sack.
In the barn were more of the feed sacks so I bought another one and asked… Jane to recover a chair that was about to see it’s last leg in the same manner. Both chairs are so durable with all the animals that live here. Did I forget to mention the kids?
Here is another chair that had seen it’s hey day, and has found new life, covered in toile. 
Toile is a pattern that originated depicting pastoral scenes from the land that surrounded the town of Jouy-en-Josas in France, where the manufacturer set up shop. It utilizes one color along with shading of that color. In 1770, when production began to implement the cooper plate into printing instead of the wood block, more detailed and larger patterns could be produced. It is typically printed on a white or cream background. Since toile can be a fairly busy pattern, I like to break it up or combine it with other patterns and solids.
Besides covering furniture in the fabric, I have also used it for drapery. Here is a neutral color palette with a chocolate brown design running through it that I used in my kitchen.
I used another pattern depicting a race scene for my husband’s office. That took some convincing on my part but now he loves it!
How can you love toile without having a pillow or two covered in it? 
Plates can also carry the design through in smaller patterns.

Hung on a wall they make wonderful decorative accents.
Decorative accents can incorporate toile in many ways. 
I have Modge Podged  styrofoam balls in toile napkins and then  rolled them in clear glitter. Makes a great Christmas decoration.
I have also taken old scraps of toile wall paper and rolled them into cones. You can stuff them with treats and hang them on your Christmas tree.
A simple project to do with toile or any of your favorite fabrics is to cover an already existing cork board with it. I used a glue gun and wrapped the board like a package. Then to hide the raised wood frame edges, I again used my handy dandy glue gun to glue a simple fabric ribbon to the edges. Shhh…I reused the ribbon that Pottery Barn uses to wrap some of their bundles of linens in. I never throw that stuff out!
Toile is not for everyones decorating taste but you can take just a little bit of it and add that whimsical, historical feel to almost any room in your house.
Me amore toile de jouy!

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  1. Debbie Loutey says:

    I love the smocking on the toile in your kitchen. AND, I am nuts over browns.