It’s always fun to brighten up your decor, especially as colder weather drives you indoors. One simple way to spice up your space is by incorporating toile de Jouy (toile, for short) into a room. Traditional toile fabric features romantic, French pastoral scenes illustrated across a white or light background, but designers are updating the classic patterns with modern personality. From vintage pin-up gal portraits to city park scenes, today’s toile patterns are cute, quirky, and totally fresh.
Commissioning your own toile pattern can be costly, but if you’re working on a small scale, making one yourself isn’t too tricky! Here’s how it works…
1. Pick out a few pictures that inspire you. You could use pictures from parties, graduations, family reunions, magazine cutouts — whatever floats your boat.
2. Using tracing paper and a charcoal pencil, trace one of the images. Toile tends to be intricate, so do your best to capture details, but don’t worry if you can’t capture the stripes on someone’s shirt, or the exact outline of someone’s eyes. You’ll be able to add in tinier details later.
3. Flip the tracing paper face-down onto a light-colored piece of relatively smooth fabric. Using the side of a pencil or marker, rub the tracing paper against the fabric. Rub firmly and evenly for about thirty seconds, making sure to address the entire image — don’t forget the edges!
4. Remove the tracing paper to reveal a mirror image of your picture imprinted on the fabric. Again, don’t worry if any details got lost in the rubbing — you’ll add them in momentarily!
5. Pick a colorful fabric pen (the higher quality and thinner tip, the better!), and trace over the transferred image. Keep the original photo or picture close by, so that you can use it as a guide. Feel free to make the drawing as detailed or as simple as you’d like. Once you’ve done one image, try transferring and tracing a few more, scattering them across the swatch of fabric. You can also fill in any empty-looking spaces by tracing images of flowers or tracing a paper doily to frame each vignette.
6. Give your fabric ink some time to thoroughly set, then toss your fabric in the wash to clean away the charcoal marks. Once it’s dry, you’ve got your very own personalized toile pattern!
This transfer technique works great on paper, too! Just rub your charcoal tracing onto a sheet of paper, trace using permanent marker, and erase the charcoal lines. Whether your designs appear on pillowcases and cloth napkins or gift wrap and greeting cards, you’ll love using this technique ‘toile’ over your home!