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Toile Handkerchief.jpg
Dress from Toile de Jouy Printeddress.jpg
Dress from Toile de Jouy
Yves Saint Laurent's studio, showing a toile for a safari jacket Le studio d'Yves Saint Laurent (Musee Yves Saint Laurent, Paris) - 31940295547.jpg
Yves Saint Laurent's studio, showing a toile for a safari jacket
A photo of toile de jouy fabric on a French-reproduction-style chair Toile de jouy.jpg
A photo of toile de jouy fabric on a French-reproduction-style chair

Toile (French for "canvas") is a textile fabric comparable to fine batiste with a cloth weave. Natural silk or chemical fiber filaments are usually used as materials. [1] The word toile can refer to the fabric itself or to a test garment sewn from calico. The French term toile entered the English language around the 12th century, was used in the middle ages [2] and meanwhile has disappeared. [3]



Middle English toile, from French toile ("cloth"), from Old French teile, from Latin tela ("web"), from Proto-Indo-European *(s)teg ("to cover") (see List of Proto-Indo-European roots in Wiktionary). In Australian and British terminology, a toile is a version of a garment made by a fashion designer or dressmaker to test a pattern. They are usually made of calico, as multiple toiles may be made in the process of perfecting a design. In the United States toiles are sometimes referred to as muslins, because during the Middle Ages they were made from the cheap, unbleached muslin-fabric available in different weights.

Toile de Jouy

The French "Toile de Jouy" simply means "cloth from Jouy" in English and describes a type of fabric printing. [4] [5] "Toile de Jouy", sometimes abbreviated to simply "toile", is a type of decorating pattern consisting of a white or off-white background on which is a repeated pattern depicting a fairly complex scene, generally of a pastoral theme such as a couple having a picnic by a lake or an arrangement of flowers. [6] The pattern portion consists of a single color, most often black, dark red, or blue. Greens, browns, and magenta toile patterns are less common, but not unheard of. Toile is most associated with fabrics (curtains and upholstery in particular, especially chintz), though toile wallpaper is also popular. Toile can also be used on teapots, beddings, clothing, etc. In upper-class (primarily American, but also northern European) society, toile is often seen on dresses or aprons used at such events as country-themed garden parties or tea parties.

Toiles were originally produced in Ireland in the mid-18th Century and quickly became popular in Britain and France. [7] The term "Toile de Jouy" originated in France in the late 18th century. In the French language, the phrase literally means "cloth from Jouy-en-Josas", a town in the south-west suburbs of Paris.

Although it has been continuously produced since then, it experienced a marked upsurge in popularity around the year 2000. Previously only a decorating design, designers have been recently experimenting with toile-patterned apparel as well, although toile-patterned shirts were widely worn in the 1970s.

Toiles were very popular during the Colonial Era in the United States and are highly associated with preservationist towns and historical areas such as Colonial Williamsburg. [8] When Williamsburg saw a resurgence in popularity in the 1930s, so did toiles, as they did again in the 1970s in celebration of the United States Bicentennial.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Calico</span> Type of textile

Calico is a heavy plain-woven textile made from unbleached, and often not fully processed, cotton. It may also contain unseparated husk parts. The fabric is far coarser than muslin, but less coarse and thick than canvas or denim. However, it is still very cheap owing to its unfinished and undyed appearance.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sewing</span> Craft of fastening or attaching objects using stitches made with a needle and thread

Sewing is the craft of fastening or attaching objects using stitches made with a sewing needle and thread. Sewing is one of the oldest of the textile arts, arising in the Paleolithic era. Before the invention of spinning yarn or weaving fabric, archaeologists believe Stone Age people across Europe and Asia sewed fur and leather clothing using bone, antler or ivory sewing-needles and "thread" made of various animal body parts including sinew, catgut, and veins.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Madras (cloth)</span>

Madras is a lightweight cotton fabric with typically patterned texture and tartan design, used primarily for summer clothing such as pants, shorts, lungi, dresses, and jackets. The fabric takes its name from the former name of the city of Chennai in south India.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Muslin</span> Cotton fabric of fine plain weave

Muslin is a cotton fabric of plain weave. It is made in a wide range of weights from delicate sheers to coarse sheeting. It gets its name from the city of Mosul, Iraq, where it was first manufactured.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jamdani</span> Traditional weaving art of Bangladesh

Jamdani is a fine muslin textile produced for centuries in South Rupshi of Narayanganj district on the bank of Shitalakhwa river in what was Bengal and eventually became Bangladesh - see Partition of India.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chintz</span> Calico fabric, usually printed with bright floral designs

Chintz is a woodblock printed, painted, stained or glazed calico textile that originated in Golconda in the 16th century. The cloth is printed with designs featuring flowers and other patterns in different colours, typically on a light, plain background.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ticking</span>

Ticking is a type of cloth, traditionally a tightly-woven cotton or linen textile. It is traditionally used to cover tick mattresses and bed pillows. The tight weave makes it more durable and hinders the stuffing from poking through the fabric. To make it even tighter, ticking could be waxed, soaped, or starched. Tick materials designed to hold foam may be knit, or more porous. In English-speaking countries ticking commonly has a striped design, in muted colors such as brown, grey or blue, and occasionally red or yellow, against a plain, neutral background.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Textile printing</span> Method for applying patterns to cloth using printing techniques

Textile printing is the process of applying color to fabric in definite patterns or designs. In properly printed fabrics the colour is bonded with the fibre, so as to resist washing and friction. Textile printing is related to dyeing but in dyeing properly the whole fabric is uniformly covered with one colour, whereas in printing one or more colours are applied to it in certain parts only, and in sharply defined patterns.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wrapper (clothing)</span> West African dress

The wrapper, lappa, or pagne is a colorful garment widely worn in West Africa by both men and women. It has formal and informal versions and varies from simple draped clothing to fully tailored ensembles. The formality of the wrapper depends on the fabric used to create or design it.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Linsey-woolsey</span> Coarse woven fabric of linen and wool

Linsey-woolsey is a coarse twill or plain-woven fabric woven with a linen warp and a woollen weft. Similar fabrics woven with a cotton warp and woollen weft in Colonial America were also called linsey-woolsey or wincey. The name derives from a combination of lin and wool. This textile has been known since ancient times; known as shatnez (שַׁעַטְנֵז) in Hebrew, the Torah and hence Jewish law explicitly forbade wearing it.

The textile industry of the city of Ahmedabad in the state of Gujarat in India dates back to the 19th century, when the city and the industry was established under the British raj. Textile mills employed thousands of people from across the state, and the cotton garments manufactured were exported around the world. The prosperity of the industry was the mainstay of the city's economy. It is called the "Manchester of India". Thus, the Ahmedabad is officially famous for cotton textile works.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of clothing and textiles</span> Study of fashion and clothing by period in time

The study of the history of clothing and textiles traces the development, use, and availability of clothing and textiles over human history. Clothing and textiles reflect the materials and technologies available in different civilizations at different times. The variety and distribution of clothing and textiles within a society reveal social customs and culture.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf</span>

Christophe-Philippe Oberkampf was a French naturalized German industrialist. He became famous for founding the royal manufacture of printed cottons of Jouy-en-Josas where the toile de Jouy was manufactured.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dress</span> Garment consisting of a bodice and skirt made in one or more pieces

A dress is a garment traditionally worn by women or girls consisting of a skirt with an attached bodice. It consists of a top piece that covers the torso and hangs down over the legs. A dress can be any one-piece garment containing a skirt of any length, and can be formal or casual.

Sewing is the craft of fastening or attaching objects using stitches made with needle and thread. Sewing is one of the oldest of the textile arts, arising in the Paleolithic Era. Although usually associated with clothing and household linens, sewing is used in a variety of crafts and industries, including shoemaking, upholstery, sailmaking, bookbinding and the manufacturing of some kinds of sporting goods. Sewing is the fundamental process underlying a variety of textile arts and crafts, including embroidery, tapestry, quilting, appliqué and patchwork.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">History of clothing in the Indian subcontinent</span> Aspect of history

History of clothing in the Indian subcontinent can be traced to the Indus Valley civilization or earlier. Indians have mainly worn clothing made up of locally grown cotton. India was one of the first places where cotton was cultivated and used even as early as 2500 BCE during the Harappan era. The remnants of the ancient Indian clothing can be found in the figurines discovered from the sites near the Indus Valley civilisation, the rock-cut sculptures, the cave paintings, and human art forms found in temples and monuments. These scriptures view the figures of human wearing clothes which can be wrapped around the body. Taking the instances of the sari to that of turban and the dhoti, the traditional Indian wears were mostly tied around the body in various ways.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mughal clothing</span> Clothing of the Mughal Empire

Mughal clothing refers to clothing developed by the Mughals in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries throughout the extent of their empire in the Indian subcontinent. It was characterized by luxurious styles and was made with muslin, silk, velvet and brocade. Elaborate patterns including dots, checks, and waves were used with colors from various dyes including cochineal, sulfate of iron, sulfate of copper and sulfate of antimony were used.

Bafta is a kind of calico, initially made in India.

Delaine was a kind of mixed cloth with cotton warp and wool in the weft. Delaines have many variations such as made of undyed yarns, and also printed or piece dyed. Delaine was a type of cloth used to manufacture women's dresses that was traded in the nineteenth century under many names to suit importers and traders. Moreover, it appeared that the plaintiffs' goods differed from delaines in various other respects.


  1. Alfons Hofer: Textil- und Modelexikon. 7. Auflage, Band 2, Deutscher Fachverlag, Frankfurt am Main 1997, keyword “toile”, ISBN 3-87150-518-8
  2. Oxford English Dictionary: "toile"; earliest citation from 1561.
  3. Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary of Current English ISBN 019 431 5339, 2000, page 1367
  4. (fr) Museum Toile de Jouy near Paris, retrieved January 20, 2022
  5. (de) Bitte, was ist eigentlich Toile de Jouy? Retrieved January 20, 2022.
  6. "toile de Jouy". Art & Architecture Thesaurus. The J. Paul Getty Trust. Retrieved April 17, 2012.
  7. "American Toile". Retrieved 2012-08-26.
  8. "Colonial Williamsburg Official History Site". 2009-11-05. Retrieved 2012-08-26.

Further reading

See also