Patterned fabric is always a nice addition to your home’s decor. In living and family rooms, stripes are the most common pattern choice, followed closely by geometric options. You will see some florals too. But one of the most intriguing patterns is an old-fashioned choice: toile.
Toile was originally produced in France when cotton fabric was first brought from India. The people of Europe were used to wool and silk clothing, fabric that didn’t wash well and was often hot in the summer. When cotton first appeared with its wash-and-wear sturdiness and cool weight, it was much in demand. The French Government was so concerned that cotton clothing would take over French cloth manufacturing that they tried to make cotton cloth illegal.
That idea soon failed, and printed cotton cloth became extremely popular. One of the first manufacturers used woodcuts and then a printing press to produce over thirty thousand different designs. Many of the designs depicted country scenes or exciting events of the day such as the first balloon ascension.
Most of these fabrics were printed in one color on white or off-white fabric with repeating patterns. The fabric was called toile de jouy which literally translates to cloth from jouy, or the part of France where the factory was based. Over time, the fabric name was shortened to toile.
This style of fabric has enjoyed a new popularity in home decor recent years, and you will see it in bedrooms and kitchens where people want a French country style. The bedspread above in blue and white shows the most popular color combination but you can find toile fabric in colors to suit virtually any decor.