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Monday, October 1, 2012

Toile de Jouy Fabric: Story-Telling Cloth.

If faced with a lack of reading material on a long journey, I think it would be nice to have a skirt in toile fabric - but with the print upside-down, so that seated, I could view the scenery right-side-up. As entertainment then, armed with felt markers (and white-out, in place of an eraser), I would bring the scenery to life.

I have yet to create a Toile de Jouy Coloring / Travel Skirt, but in the Autumn of 2011, did create and color a toile trilby hat with embroidery - and you can see it here. In designing the toile trilby, my inspiration was a toile ottoman cover I wanted to repurpose. You will also notice the red brim-trim, which is part of a vintage Pierre Cardin tie.

For its stories and its long history, fabric in the Toile de Jouy style charms me, though I simply refer to it as "toile".

Seeing a humorously-bad rendition of toile fabric prompted this post entry. Shopping with my mother, I discovered a pair of elastic-waist pants - white, with toile-de-jouy style scenery printed in black. Having the appearance of a poorly-traced pastoral print, the scenes featured shepherds carrying amorphous blobs instead of sheep - and shepherdesses petting amorphous blobs instead of sheep.

At its best though, I adore toile because it is fabric that tells a story. Dates of toile origin vary from seventeenth to eighteenth century, but its scenes are based on true stories, historical literature and opera, and mythological legends. Many toile prints feature countryside landscapes and figures. It has been said that the subject matter is a romanticized version of rural life perceived by French aristocracy.

Historically in the U.S., toile fabrics had their heyday in Colonial times. However, it seems toile - with so many thoughts and images to convey - will always find favor.

In researching the history of toile, I found it very interesting to learn that the original Toile de Jouy factory was established near La Bievre river, because its water held mineral-properties conducive to washing and processing of the fabric.

To see a variety of toile fabrics, try searching "images for history of toile de jouy fabric", or simply "images for toile fabric".

For clarification, I should note:  My blog is named Toile La La not because of toile fabric, but because I like to sew, therefore the "toile" of Toile La La refers to a rough-draft garment or "toile", created to test style, fit, and construction-technique.

Toile de Jouy references from Musee de la Toile de Jouy website, Fabrics and Paper website, and "toile" Wikipedia entry.