To Toile, or not to Toile?

toile trio (source1, source2, source3)

* in my best Southern accent (that I do very well, I might add) *

When I was just a little girl, I couldn’t, for the life of me, understand why people would want people on their fabrics.  What’s worse, chicken on their fabrics!

* And now you can’t stop reading this with a southern accent =) *

What seemed ludicrous to me as a child has actually struck my fancy as an adult!  Thanks to this post about TOILE via DesignSponge (and Wikipedia, of course), I have learned about the history of this type of fabric.  note:  i did inquire about toile on my school’s library database, but the search was unfruitful.  DesignSponge mentions a few books about toile.

When translated, toile means “linen fabric” in French.  Most of us simply know it as cotton.  Toile de Jouy, the fabric’s “official” name, thus, is translated to mean linen fabric from the town of Jouy-en-Josas, the town in which it was created and popularized.  In 1686, France banned this fabric because of the fear that it’s importation from India would have a negative financial impact on the country.  But this didn’t stop the people from using it!  Therefore, soon after the ban was lifted in 1759, German-born Christophe- Philippe Oberkampf took advantage of the demand for the fabric and helped found the factory in Jouy which began to manufacture this printed cotton.  Scenes on the toile (drumroll please, this is the reason for the people on fabric!) depict epic moments in history!!  Maybe that is why I’ve grown so fond of the toile?   I do love my design history!

Toile was popularized in the United States during the Colonial period, and has made a recent reoccurrence during the early 2000s.  Artists have experimented with it in more ways than in interiors, all of which are pretty cool!

So if you’ve skipped all of the afore written history, here are the pictures =)

toile depicting a successful hydrogen-filled hot air balloon launch 


toile rainboots! 


richard saja – modern toile interpretation 


toile wallpaper by Zoffany 


le toile de GaGa! – Lady GaGa, very fashionably, rocking a chic toil 3-piece suit 


So, do you toile, or do you not toile?

What are your thoughts on this fabric?  Leave a comment below! 


6 thoughts on “To Toile, or not to Toile?

  1. I Toile. I toile this room and that room. In this color and that color. In this pattern and that pattern. Yes, I toile. If I could, I would start a company where anyone can toile any event from their life and what better toile to look at and study than one’s own momentous moments.

  2. I could see a really nice duffel tote in blue toile being adorable! Maybe with a pipeline trim in a radical neon color! Yep, headed to JoAnn’s!

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