Happy Birthday Toile!

Via Wren, I learned that this year is the 250th birthday of toile. She created two toile patterns (including “Darling Toile,” above) in honor of her native South Africa for the design magazine Visi. They’re free for download from this link. Even if you’re not interested in toile or modern twists on it, it’s worth visiting the link for the mini-tutorial on how to create a half-drop repeat.

Toile was born in 1760 in Jouy-en-Josas, France. Traditionally, a toile (or “Toile de Jouy“) features pastoral scenes, people at leisure, and mythological figures, drawn in dark blue, red, or black on a white background. They were originally printed with etched copper plates, later to be replaced by copper rollers. Today, toile is associated with elegance and class. It’s a style that begs to adapted as a tribute to a place or person, as Wren has done, or in parody. Take a look …

Glasgow Toile by Timorous Beasties depicts “the under-belly of urban social realism,” with “images of drug and alchohol abuse [framed] in the context of some of Glasgow’s most famous architectural landmarks and public spaces.”

Domestic Element‘s Jessica Smith has several updated toiles in her portfolio:

South Beach Toile: “Alligators beware, your land of sun has been taken over by tourist in Panama hats sipping martinis, body builders with poodles, and bikini clad ladies in strappy Manolo Blahnik.”

Trash Day, a contemporary Toile, represents the pastoral of modern life.”

Toilette of Venus: “It makes perfect sense that the goddess of beauty may need a little help from time to time.”

Also check out Sheila BridgesHarlem Toile wallpaper and fabric. She writes that she was interested in the stories told and the questions raised by traditional toile and created her own to “[lampoon] some of the stereotypes deeply woven into the African American experience.” (via this discussion of toile on The Textile Blog.) (And just to let you know, I’m not leaving out the image because it’s controversial, but because the thumbnails are too small!)


  1. corinnea says:

    I love toile! Informative post, thanks!

  2. Jacqui Stocker says:

    I love toile too! And I love the modern twists! I love fabric that tells a story and toile is the ultimate.

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