Sunday, January 10, 2010


As you can tell if you have visited my etsy store , I like toile (pronounced twal). Toile is a French word which means "cloth". Toiles were first produced in France in the late 18th century and quickly became Marie Anhtoinette's favorite fabric, depicting romantic bucolic scenes of lovers picnicing on a riverbank, or hunting scenes, or peasants working in the fields, and other imaginary scenes. Benjamin Franklin sent toiles home to his wife while he was in England, thus introducing America to toiles. They were used primarily for decoration, in upholstery or drapery, in cushions and, printed on paper, as wallpaper.

Genreally printed in black, red or blue on a white or cream background, these days toiles are available in many colors and fabrics. Most of the toiles I use are a Laura Ashley copywrited design which I call the "rural scene". I have the same pattern in many colors:

I like to mix and match my toiles to make tablecloths. This one is brown and yellow, using the Laura Ashley print

This is an elegant black and white print

I do have other toiles besides the Laura Ashley rural scene. One day I played around and mixed and matched big time, and created what I think of as my masterpiece:

It's really hard to sell tablecloths, though. Everyone has a different size table, different color schemes, different taste, etc., etc. and so forth. Also they are time consuming and expensive to make. So nowadays I am making placemats/napkins from my toiles, cutting out different scenes approzimately 21"x15" and hemming them to approximately 20"x14", a generous sized placemat, which can also be folded into a napkin. I think they're charming. I sold this set:

And now I have this new set ready to list on my etsy site. Here is the original full-size piece of fabric:

I can only get 4 placemats out of each yard of this fabric, so I try to center each scene. I used 2 yards and produced 8 placemats/napkins, so you could use 4 for placemats and fold the other four for napkins!

These are the two big scenes, which can be folded to highlight a particular part, like a bowler, or the dancers:

I have another yard of this same pattern and colorway, and will make an apron today, and after I go to the fabric store and buy more batting, I will make at least one tablerunner, and several potholder/trivets. Stay tuned, and please see my store where these goods are available for sale.


  1. Well, a kindred spirit! I too love toile, and can't get enough of it...I especially am liking the fact that it comes in so many colours now...but you are so correct, it is very expensive, although i have to say i love your pieced whatever-it-was...I'll go look in your store!

  2. Those are beautiful! Wow, I learned something new today... thanks! :) I also live on Long Island... and I'm now a follower of your blog! :)

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