Personalize Your Pad with DIY Toile!

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!

What fabrics or finds do you use to personalize your place? Let us know your interior design opinions and pointers on Facebook, Pinterest, or in the comments below!

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  1. Megan (ModCloth) 10/27/2011 at 10:40 am #

    OMG. Great post, yinz — totally inspired by this. You could even embroider over the transfer marks on fabric. Reminds me of the Commander’s Palace in New Orleans where the toile wallpaper is embroidered in excellent colors! Love it!

    • Ariel 11/10/2011 at 8:30 pm #

      That is such great idea! I’m definitely going to try this. I love embroidery. Thank you for such a good inspiration (christmas presents here I come!).

  2. Lee 10/27/2011 at 11:08 am #

    Holy! I love this post – so all we need is tracing paper, charcoal pencil, and fabric ink. This is totally doable!

  3. Lyn 10/27/2011 at 12:05 pm #

    Oh I love this idea. You can take you’re memorable moments with you without being so obvious.

  4. Lori Lynn 10/27/2011 at 12:47 pm #

    This idea is beyond adorable! I sorta feel like I might not be talented enough to pull this off but I think I’ll give it a go anyways! Thanks for the awesome post! XoXo Lori

  5. Victoria 10/28/2011 at 1:15 am #

    I cannot wait to have some fun with this! So adorable!

  6. Sunita 10/28/2011 at 3:09 pm #

    This post is wonderful. Thank you for the ideas!

  7. Cassidy 10/29/2011 at 9:05 am #

    Love this so much!!!! Going to try it right away! Thanks!

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