Saturday, April 28, 2012

Timeless ticking ...

Traditional blue and white ticking fabric covered the feather mattress on the guest bed at my grandparents's house. As a child, I relished sinking into that bed and drifting soundly to sleep. To this day, vintage ticking still reminds me of my grandmother's sweet embrace.

Image of Greyhound Daybed via Howe London.

The very tight woven cotton or cotton and linen blend of vintage ticking was used to keep pillow and mattress feathers from poking through the fabric. But, I do remember that the fabric itself felt stiff, much like a new pair of real denim jeans (no, not like the soft, pre-washed versions we find today).

Well, it didn't take long before craftsmen began to appreciate the durability of the tough ticking fabric and used it to create other goods that needed to wear well with heavy use. Totes and duffle bags, dish towels and book covers are just a few of the items. The list goes on and on.


Images above via Neutral Heaven (left) and Toast (right).

True vintage ticking was woven with naturally colored cotton and sold only with thin stripes dyed Indigo Blue. This iconic fabric is both practical and reassuringly familiar, so designers began to use it in home decor, too.

Image via Desde My Ventana.

Ticking moved out from under the covers to bed linens and upholstery use.

Image via House and Home.

I would have loved to have seen the reaction when the first designer reupholstered an ornate canape (with a flawless pedigree) in oh-so-humble ticking. No doubt, someone had some explaining to do. Louis XVI would turn in his grave if he only knew. But, the novelty soon inspired countless imitations.

Image via la Brocanteuse.

While ticking upholstery is trendy, it's a little too faux French at times, as are the countless pillows emblazoned with copies of every French historic document, postcard image or city name. Really people, 'les francais' do not stamp 'Paris' on their pillows, nor should you. In my humble opinion, it's like a tacky theme park imitation ... 'mauvais gout', as the French would say.


Images above via Trouvais.

But, there are subtle, yet inspiring ways to incorporate ticking that adds just the right touch to interiors. It is a beautiful companion to other natural linens and rustic furnishings.

Image above via She Moves the Furniture.

A bit of 'tongue-in-cheek' playfulness is at work in the photo above. Here, vintage ticking has been crafted into a brassiere that adorns a stone wall - truly clever. Under the artful bra, modern ticking material is used for a casual back pillow on a classic Bergere chair and natural cotton duck is simply draped over the seat. Hey, I'm all for the whimsical approach used here - this vignette is a design masterpiece because it doesn't take itself too seriously. 

Image via Everything Fabulous.

Modern ticking fabric comes in a rainbow of colors, which makes it perfect for so many applications. I'm really fond of the way it looks on a table for casual dining.  I picked up some remnant yardage with sunny yellow stripes and can't wait to assign it duty at a summer al fresco dinner.


Diane said...

What a really great post and beautiful pictures. I've always loved ticking too. Even sewed a little pair of baby overalls from some for our son years ago -- still have them somewhere. Even the bra is cute, though I don't know that I would display it, although maybe it will catch on as a trend!

Alamodeus said...

Thanks, Diane. I love to scour the remnant lots in fabric stores. Over the years, I have collected a number of yards of ticking fabric in traditional indigo blue, green and yellow. I hang on to these for dressing my outdoor tables when we host casual dinners or barbeques. The indigo stripes make a great tablecloth, and I pare it with red, cotton paisley-printed bandanas for napkins!

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