Toile de Jouy Fabric

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Toile prints were originally produced in Ireland in the mid-18th Century and quickly became popular in Britain and France. The name Toile de Jouy originated in France in the late 18th century and means “cloth from Jouy”, a town near Paris.

Christophe-Phillipe Oberkampf set up business in Jouy-en-Josas outside Paris in 1759, where he joined with engraver and designer Jean Baptiste Huet to design idyllic pastoral scenes for their fabrics.

The designs on toile de jouy vary greatly, but they all have detailed scenes scattered over the fabric. Originally the scenes were carved on woodblocks or engraved on copper then printed in only one colour (often red, black, or blue) on to a white or cream background.


Les Traveaux de la Manufacture (The Activities of the Factory), 1783–84, designed by Jean-Baptiste Huet



Toile fabrics are a fascinating record of the times both past and present, often depicted historical events, such as the pattern above c. 1784 based on two etching made shorly after the Montgolfier brothers successful ascent in hydrogen-filled hot air balloons


Detail from a more modern toile fabric  by Ashley Wilde.



Even more recently, Mike Diamond from the Beastie Boys designed Brooklyn Toile (above) as a wallpaper. Together with designer Vincent J. Ficarra he created a toile depicting his favorite Brooklyn scenes.

toile de jouy ALL

 Toile has come to be used for interiors, both wallpaper and soft furnishings in this vibrant room.


Here Toile de Jouy is being used for clothing  in this 1950’s style Bernie Dexter dress.




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Artist Textiles.

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The early 20th century saw the rise of artists having their designs  printed on fabric to be used in the house or as pieces of clothing. This meant that their art was accessible to the masses rather than being owned by galleries or the very rich. After the war a movement called ‘a masterpiece in every home’ became popular and saw many great artists such as Salvador Dali, Joan Miro and John Piper having their designs printed and used widely.


Rare vintage 1920’s cotton fabric by french textile artist Raoul Dufy who was one of the first to have his designs printed on cotton fabric. This piece was originally used as a pair of curtains.


This wonderful Picasso print cotton fabric made into 1950’s style dress. By the 1960’s  Picasso was allowing many of his art work to be printed on to dress fabric, he apparently wouldn’t allow his work to be used for sofas or chairs “Picasso may be leaned against, not sat on” the curator of the 2014 exhibition of textile art  was quoted as saying.


The piece above printed on soft rayon material, originally curtains is now being made into a skirt.


Northern Cathedral – a 1960’s work  by John Piper screen printed on  cotton fabric.






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20th Century Rayon Dress Making Fabric

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Considered the oldest manufactured fabric, rayon is made from cellulose ( often wood pulp), and thought of as semi-synthetic. There are several different ways of processing the cellulose each producing slightly different fabrics such as viscose, modal, lyocell and tencel.

Known as artificial silk when it was first introduced in the late 1800’s early 19o0’s, it soon became very popular as a cheaper alternative to cotton and silk.  By the 1950’s the versatility of rayon meant it was being used extensively often printed in a great variety of fashionable designs and colours.



1960’s Walric rayon shown above is a heavier dress fabric which has a stiffish linen feel.


this lighter silk crepe like rayon is perfect to dresses and blouses


Cold satin rayon in great 1950’s geometric design

blpray1950’s silky rayon


Rayon brocade fabric which could be used for dress making or interiors


1960’s 70’s interiors fabric in a rayon and cotton blend


Check out the excellent blog  by Emileigh of Flashback Summer – The History of Rayon and how to care for it  Rayon blog





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David Whitehead & Sons Fabrics


The Lancashire textile company David Whitehead & Sons originally set up in 1815, came to prominence in the 1950’s having exhibited at the Festival of Britain in 1951. The company produced some wonderful fabric during the 1950’s by artists and designers such as John Piper, Marian Mahler, Jaqueline Groag, Terence Conran and Henry Moore. Many can be found in the V&A collection.


‘solstice’ by Cliff Holden


abstract painterly design in barkcloth cotton

Eye catching and popular these fabrics were the height of mid 20th Century fashion and used extensively in interior design. Interestingly the company also provided specialist fabric for the Scott’s 1957 polar expedition.

10171153_762102430474967_987201945_n“After Halfeur” by Pamela Kay



“Eduardo” by Terence Conran design dated 1952


Like so many textile firms in Britain the company almost died out, but in 1996 Bernard Laverty bought the company name and now he and his wife Jill Worrall are bringing the company back to life producing the same fabulous 1950’s designs in Lancashire mills once again, just six to begin with, but hopefully more in the future.



When Jill bought a length of David Whitehead fabric from me for her ever growing fabric achive, it was so exciting to hear her story of the relaunching of these iconic fabric designs. Check out their website and facebook page below to find out more.

David Whitehead website

David Whitehead facebook page

More information about Vintage Fabric can be found by following these links



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Vintage Curtain Finds from 2015

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I have been looking back over the last year at the vintage curtains I have found.  Most of my treasure was from junk shops, charity shops and flea markets though some from people who got in touch via the internet. I have bought 1960’s barkcloth curtains by Heals and wonderful designers such as Collier Campbell.


Heal’s barkcloth curtains ‘garland’ by Mo Sullivan


‘kasbah’ by Collier Campbell


1960’s rayon curtains in Barbara Brown like design

There have been some  other more modern curtains from excellent Swedish designers at Ikea.


and some with unusual and interesting children’s designs


Bart Simpson playing football


Twinkletoes in pink for little girls.

I am looking forward to more treasure hunting in 2016 seeing what other fabric  I can find whether  in the form of curtains or smaller pieces.

Further information about Vintage Fabric can be found at the links below.



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Bernard Wardle Fabric Design


The company Bernard Wardle started in the 1930’s and  by the late 40’s were producing a wonderful variety of designs in cotton chintz and hand & roller printed linen for interiors from their base in Stockport, Cheshire.



Above picture shows the bee logo on the selvedge of a piece of 1930’s /40’s linen.


‘french garden’ an early design from the 1930’s or 40’s on cotton.

After 1950 Bernard Wardle  introduced colourfast dyes which enabled them to use vibrant colours in new popular patterns.

By the 1960’s the company Bernard Wardle had became well known for producing high quality fabric and printing for Heals and using designers such as Robert Dodd, Colleen Farr, Elizabeth Tuff, Janet Taylor and Natalie Gibson. Edward Pond was design director from 1962-65 introducing a series great designs.

Vintage Textile Wall Art (5)-500x500

‘cathedrals’ by Edward Pond



‘guinevere’ 1960’s abstract floral design.


Edward Pond’s ‘malaga’ produced in a variety of colours .


‘vanessa’ by Hilary Rosenthal 1966


‘barbican’ by Robert Dodd

The Wardle Pattern Books were presented to the Whitworth Art Gallery in 1962.

Everflex was an offshoot of the main Bernard Wardle company becoming famous for making fabric for car interiors and soft tops. Rolls Royce, Bentley and Jaguar being some well known customers. The main branch of Everflex opened in 1948 in Caernarfon, Wales and closed in 1980.

Further information about Vintage Fabric can be found at the links below.



Laura Ashley and the Bloomsbury Group

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The Bloomsbury set were group of artists and writers of the early 1900’s that included Virginia Woolf, her sister  Vanessa Bell, Maynard Keynes, Duncan Grant, Lytton Strachey, T S Eliot and E M Forster. They were considered both bohemian and intellectual and had a great influence on art and philosophy of the 20th century.

NPG Ax140432; Lady Ottoline Morrell; Maria Huxley (nÈe Nys); Lytton Strachey; Duncan Grant; Vanessa Bell (nÈe Stephen) by Unknown photographer

by Unknown photographer, vintage snapshot print, July 1915

Lytton Strachey, sitting, Duncan Grant standing and Vanessa Bell on right.

The group moved to Charleston, their wonderful house in Sussex in 1916, filling it with works of art and decorated with their paintings, sculptures and fabric designs.


Laura Ashley is not someone you would immediately associate with the Bloomsbury Group, but in the 1980’s she produced a series of  fabric designs to celebrate the saving of Charleston  ‘West Wind’ and ‘Daphne & Apollo’ by duncan grant were faithfully reproduced by Laura Ashley in 1985 as well as a series of patterns some now quite familiar and widely used, other much harder to find.


‘west wind’ (above) &  ‘Daphne & Apollo’ (below) Laura Ashley 1985, after original by Duncan Grant.



‘Queen Mary’



Further information about Vintage Fabric can be found at the links below.





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