Friday, February 25, 2011

And now, a word about toile

For various reasons, I am currently investigating toile. And when I say varied, I really mean one reason. A not very secret one.

I feel like most people at all familiar with fabric know a toile print when they see one--the all-over scene fabric, with a pastoral flavor and usually a one-color-on-white print.

People also have varying opinions on toile. I have no particular bent one way or another, but I realized as I began my research that I have never actually used toile. I have been attracted to toile prints on numerous occasions, but could never think of a reason to get any.

As I am poking around, I am learning a lot. Often referred to as "Toile de Jouy" for its most famous production location in France, toile has a storied history from the past few hundred years. It can also contain a wide variety of prints, not just jolly French ladies and gentleman.

I'd forgotten, for instance, about chinoserie toile, full of "pastoral" landscapes from the Orient, and certainly idealized Asian figures.

Schumacher toile, from Brick House Fabric

Then there are the tribute toiles, like this Civil War toile:

Civil War Toile, from The Door Mouse

Evidently there is quite a famous set of toiles with an Eisenhower theme, and some with a Southern USA theme, after Gone with the Wind was published.

There are also toiles with literary themes, as in this example:

Robinson Crusoe toile, by Lee Jofa/Christopher Moore.

Certainly, a lot can be done with toile. Home decor via wallpaper, draperies, and furnishings are natural. Toile is often used in quilting, since as a cotton fabric it's a natural choice. But I was surprised to learn about toile's capabilities in fashion:

50s dress, Dorothea's closet, via Baltimore Style
1987 Christian Lacroix, via Dressmaker

I'm a little embarrassed now for having passed up some toile opportunities. I'm looking forward to getting in to a good fabric store to peruse the possibilities. I'd like to find some good literary toile, and maybe some Greek myth toile. Maybe also some sweet architectural toile!

And, if you're still looking for some wellies this season, check out these!

More on creative toile from Mr. Peacock.


Cloud of Secrets said...

I have mixed feelings about toile prints. I like the pastorals and orientals in small areas, like my notecards and wrapping paper, and I could even enjoy a scarf or journal cover or napkins made of the stuff. But it gets overwhelming as a major decorating fabric or on full garments. It gives my brain a feeling of claustrophobic panic, like when I look at really busy and creepy psychedelic art.

I remember seeing a photo spread of some wealthy family's newly decorated nursery; it had toile wallpaper and bedlinens and canopy and curtains -- slightly different patterns, but all in a rose/cerise/pale pink color family. All toile de Jouy type prints. I wonder what the baby grew up to be like.

I also remember that when I first went into an Anthropologie store, over a decade ago, toile de Jouy skirts and pants were on display. Red or black scenes on white, if I recall rightly. No thanks! Don't need pastoral scapes all over my thighs and bum.

I'm curious about your projects, however!

Anonymous said...

I hadn't known ANY of this about toile, although I have been searching for something similar in a skirt. Now, I will end up being very particular about it and looking for the scene rather than simply settling for the black and white pattern.

Carrie said...

I have a guess about why you're looking into toile. And if my guess is correct, just let me say I like it.

Abs said...

Carrie, I'm pretty sure you're right. And last night I finally had a possible idea on what I'm going to do about it. Maybe.
Terri, I, too, am looking at toile prints with a more invested eye. I've found it's really hard to find special toiles, and I can't help wishing I could make my own fabrics!
Sarah, your feelings about toile were what I had in mind when I mentioned varying opinions. I also can't picture toile pants, but somehow I feel like a skirt would be fine. Something about the shape and drape of the garment. I did see a rather marvelous fabric the other day and thought of you. Here's a link:
Now I wish I had a chair to upholster. Or, indeed, that I knew anything about upholstery.

Cloud of Secrets said...

Ooh, I do like that Vauxhall toile. I'd make a table runner out of it, or put it under glass in the bottom of a serving tray or something like that -- so one can enjoy all the colorful scenes, but so the effect isn't overwhelming.

Hey - Shabby Apple dress giveaway at The Citizen Rosebud here. If you enter, please tell her I sent you!:

Abs said...

Done and Done!
I love Shabby Apple.
That Vauxhall is pretty fantastic. It's so deliciously French but different from your usual decor fabrics. It would make an awesome serving tray, as a matter of fact. I think it would be too much for curtains, but a lovely side chair would be great.

the Citizen Rosebud said...

Hello Abs, sister of "Cloudy" (yes that's what I call your sister Sarah.) Thank you for stopping by and good luck on the give-away. I see you and Sarah share a love for research. I just learned a lot on toile!
-Bella Q
Enter to Win My Shabby Apple Dress Give-Away- the Citizen Rosebud

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